The Pride and Fall of South Australia

At the end of the bye rounds, last season the Adelaide Football club were favourites to take out the 2017 premiership. They were sitting comfortably on top of the ladder with an enviable percentage of 141, and a reasonably comfortable run home to the finals. A year and one week later, they sit eleventh on a four-game losing streak and making the finals would take nothing short of a miracle. So where did it all go wrong?

Sure, you could argue injuries have cruelled the team. However, with so many of these being soft tissue injuries, that alone would have been enough to ask questions about the preseason that the club offered its players. What kind of training were they were doing that left so many players in a fragile state? Now though, the question has become “were they doing enough physical training at all?”

There is no secret that there is disharmony within the Adelaide Crows camp – much of which stems from a controversial offseason camp held by Collective Mind, a group of mind training specialists, with reportedly no psychiatric or psychological certifications, in order to build mental strength and connection within the team. While this camp is all the news at the moment, with some players strongly defending it, and reports of others being strongly against it, it was the first course of action the club took at the behest of Collective Mind that may well be where it all started to go wrong – the now infamous power stance.

The power stance marked a moment where the Crows decided that mental strength and mind games were what was going to give them the edge in this finals series. When that went all awry in the Grand Final, and power stance or not, they were dismantled by a ferocious Richmond Football Club, they searched for answers as to where it all went wrong and decided that mind training and the mental edge was again the answer.

Now I’m not going to deny that much of football is played between the ears, and if a player isn’t playing with confidence or complete focus, they certainly won’t play at their best. Yet, their opposition in Richmond showed why football and intent is certainly more important. Any interviews with Richmond players after the Grand Final tell you that their grueling and fast-paced preseason was the reason for their success and self-belief. The fact that they trained the way they wanted to play – a piece of football wisdom handed down by every junior coach you ever had.

The Adelaide Football Club were one game off a premiership in 2017. In fact, they went into that game hot favourites to win their first flag in twenty years. There weren’t too many issues to fix. Had they returned in 2018 a reinvigorated, and now more determined team, they wouldn’t have been the first team to turn the anger and bitterness of a Grand Final loss into a premiership the following year. Why did a team that survived the loss of a coach in such tragic fashion, only to make a Grand Final the next year need any more resilience in the first place?

As of now, the Adelaide Football Club have severed ties with Collective Minds, calling a bizarrely timed press conference to do so, but the damage is done, and many Crows fans who would have come into this season with a sense of optimism have already written off 2018. But if any positive can be taken from this, it is that the Adelaide Football Club now serves as a warning to others as to what happens when you try and complicate football too much.


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