Showdown should be a big tribute to Phil Walsh
IT WAS one of the saddest sights seen on a footy field.
Adelaide players walking forlornly from Subiaco Oval on Saturday night, some arm in arms, others wiping tears away from their faces with their jumpers.
It was an incredibly raw image, Crows stars Patrick Dangerfield, Daniel Talia and Sam Jacobs among those visibly shattered.
And the presence of family members out on the field to applaud them off only heightened the dramatic scene.
The Crows were incredibly brave just to get out there and play West Coast eight days after the shocking death of their coach Phil Walsh.
No AFL club has had to endure such circumstances.
Collingwood and Port Adelaide dealt with the deaths of current players Darren Millane (in a car crash in 1991) and John McCarthy (after falling from a roof in 2012), respectively, in the off-season. Neither club had to come out and play the next week.
But, the grieving isn't going to end there for the Crows with Walsh's memorial service to attend on Wednesday, followed by what will be one of the most emotion-charged derbies ever against Port Adelaide next Sunday at Adelaide Oval.
Their clashes are known as Showdowns, and that won't change, but in time maybe they should play for the Phil Walsh Cup. Or, at the very least, the player judged to be the best on the ground wins the Phil Walsh Medal. As of now they are awarded the Showdown Medal.
Walsh played with three clubs, Collingwood, Richmond and Brisbane, and began his off-field career with Geelong, but spent 10 seasons as an assistant coach with the Power (1999-2009), playing an integral role in its 2004 premiership, before returning in 2014 prior to taking on the Crows' job.
Though clearly still coming to terms with Walsh's death following his side's tight win over Collingwood on Thursday night, Port coach Ken Hinkley tried to sum up what he believed his friend and colleague would have been thinking.
"I reckon he would have said 'terrific, well done, got the job done. Let's get back to work'."
And back to work means trying to win a finals berth.
For all the feeling that will be in Sunday's encounter, the result could go a long way towards deciding a final-eight spot.
After being perched atop the ladder for the first three rounds, the Crows have slipped to ninth at 7-6-1, with Collingwood (8-6) and GWS (8-6) ahead and the inconsistent North Melbourne (7-7) behind, but capable of leap-frogging them all.
While Geelong (6-7-1) looks a spent force, and its predicament will only worsen skipper if Joel Selwood is (rightfully) suspended for a 'chicken wing' tackle, early premiership favourite Port (6-8) remains the rank outsider.
The Crows contesting finals would be a fairytale outcome. It's going to be difficult for the mentally-drained team.
But, just as they did against the odds against a powerful Eagles outfit, when going down by 56 points, they won't throw in the towel.
"Phil wouldn't have wanted that," Caretaker coach Scott Camporeale said.