Adelaide Crows grand final 2017: reflections on sports fandom

Psyched: The Standard's Dylan Hogarth, Emmalie Balnaves-Gale and Peri Strathearn get into the spirit of grand final week. Not pictured is Port fan Nick Grimm. Photo: Nick Grimm.

Psyched: The Standard's Dylan Hogarth, Emmalie Balnaves-Gale and Peri Strathearn get into the spirit of grand final week. Not pictured is Port fan Nick Grimm. Photo: Nick Grimm.

We're the pride of South Australia, we're the mighty Adelaide Crows.

I was a shy boy, not much into football, but the Crows roared into my memory in 1997. The Bay to Birdwood route was lined with supporters the day after the decider. A club-coloured truck rumbled down the Anzac Highway with us, making a hullaballoo.

We're courageous, stronger, faster and respected by our foes.

I'm not sure when I got into footy; maybe when I met my mate Tom, working as a shelf-stacker. Red, gold and navy blue threads have run through our friendship over the years. Sport is like that: a measure of our lives, a backdrop to the mundane.

Admiration of the nation, our determination shows.

We used to dread the trek to AAMI Stadium, especially by bus; I was glad to see the back of it. Our last game there was the Showdown where a young Chad took a pack mark and goaled to put the Power ahead late, right in front of us. Then we won some tickets and had to go back a few weeks later.

We're the pride of South Australia, we're the mighty Adelaide Crows.

The Crows gave Geelong a shellacking on my birthday in 2012. I was in the Riverbank Stand when Eddie kicked his goal of the year against the Kangaroos, too.

We give our best from coast to coast, where the story will be told.

Phil Walsh's death made us all realise sport is much more than sport. It is an expression of the rivalry between cities pretending warriors from rival cities are engaging in combat; it can be a distraction from dark times, personal or national. It provides a stage for compelling triumphs and, as we have seen in the US this week, protests heavy with symbolism.

As we fight the rugged battles, the flag will be our goal.

Sport brings us together and gets us talking in pubs, grandstands and around radios and TVs. You don't have to be into it to appreciate its value.

Our skill and nerve will see us through, our commitment ever grows.

I took my eldest daughter to see the first AFLW match at Thebarton Oval last summer. Gender equality is a fine concept; but holding my little girl, pointing and saying "when you grow up, you can play AFL if you want", makes it much more meaningful.

We're the pride of South Australia, we're the mighty Adelaide Crows.

Peri Strathearn

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