While the AFL is on COVID-19 hiatus, David Schout is reliving some of the most notable upsets and bad beats over the years. This week, an Adelaide Oval thriller from back in 2014.

Adelaide and Melbourne were due to face off this weekend, in what would have been Round 9 of the 2020 AFL season. And while we’re still waiting to hear word on when the season might recommence, we’re sifting through the archives to find clashes from the past that surprised both bookies and punters alike.

Pretext

In the years leading up to 2014, life as a Melbourne fan was a tough gig. The competition’s whipping boys (alongside AFL newcomers Gold Coast and GWS), the Dees had finished in the bottom five for seven straight seasons. But 2014 was supposed to be the fresh start fans had craved. With a developing list and – most importantly – premiership-winning coach Paul Roos at the helm, things were looking up for the red and blue. They had also traded in Bernie Vince (Adelaide) and Dom Tyson (GWS).

Years of underachievement meant they (understandably) started many games as outsiders. But this didn’t deter the Dees. In Round 4 they started $5.23 outsiders against Carlton (with a 33.5-point head start), yet claim a comfortable 23-point win. But by Round 7, that remained their only win on the board. And at 1-5, they were languishing in 17th.

Odds

Travelling to the Adelaide Oval, a venue they had lost their last 17 encounters at, the Dees were rank outsiders. The Crows (sitting 3-3 at that stage of the AFL season ) started as $1.07 favourites while Melbourne simply weren’t fancied at $9.26. Further, such was the apparent disparity between the teams, the bookies gave Roos’ side a 48.5-point head start in line markets.

Early running

After the Crows booted the game’s first goal courtesy of Patty Dangerfield, it was all Melbourne. Four-straight goals to quarter-time game them a handy 17-point buffer at the change of ends. And it didn’t stop there. Big man Chris Dawes imposed himself on the AFL clash, booting two goals early in the second quarter and by the time he’d kicked his second, the Dees had a most improbable 35-point lead. Crows’ inside midfielder Scott Thompson stemmed the flow but by the main break the underdog Dees still lead 44-16. Prior to the game, Melbourne were $19 to lead at both half-time and full-time.

Fightback

Unsurprisingly, the Crows didn’t give up without a fight. They made all the running in the third term and, if not for poor kicking (3.6), could have squared the ledger. By the final minute of the quarter, the Dees had managed just 0.2 but a clutch set-shot from Dawes, his third, maintained a two-goal buffer.

Holding on

While Melbourne had worked tirelessly to gain a lead, they knew they’d have to step it up a notch in the final term if they were to notch just their second win of the AFL season. When James Podsiadly kicked truly to kick things off in the final term, the lead was just six. A clutch goal to Nathan Jones was cancelled out by Dangerfield’s second, but majors to ruckman Mark Jamar and young-gun Dom Tyson extended the lead to 16. Two quick Crows goals (to Jared Petrenko and Podsiadly) made for an unbearably tense final 30 seconds for Dees fans.

But finally, FINALLY, they would hold on by three points, sealing a famous win.

Final Score

Round 7 of the 2014 AFL season, May 3

Adelaide:       1.1 (7)     2.4 (16)  5.10 (40)  9.13 (67)  def by

Melbourne:  4.0 (24)  7.2 (44)  8.4 (52)   11.4 (70)

ADEL: Jenkins 2, Dangerfield 2, Podsiadly 2, Thompson, Crouch, Petrenko

MEL: Dawes 3, Bail, Kennedy Harris, Salem, Watts, Viney, N. Jones, Jamar, Tyson

Brownlow Votes: 3 Patrick Dangerfield (ADEL), 2 Chris Dawes (MEL), 1 Jeremy Howe (MEL)