Just what lies ahead for the Adelaide Football Club, its’ players, staff and supporters?
Just what can we ask of a club that has gone through so much in recent times? First death to cancer of mentor Dean Bailey, still fresh in the minds of players who learned so much from him, and now, the raw, gut wrenching loss of coach Phil Walsh.
Has any sporting organisation had to endure so much?
Nothing compares to the pain the Walsh family are suffering and will continue to suffer. We cannot begin to comprehend their grief. They will deal with it as best they can with the support of family, friends and the entire Adelaide Football Club.
What of the Club itself? A game against Geelong has been cancelled, while we come to terms with it all, the AFL family has come together to share in the grief.
But as in all facets of life the show must go on. There’s another game to be played in the West next weekend, the coaching staff has been re-jigged. In a masterstroke former Eagles coach John Worsfold, Walshy’s mentor has come on board as Director of coaching. Everything that could have been done has been done.
Now what can we expect? Everyone is different, some players will handle it better than others, there’ll be peaks and troughs. Emotions play a powerful role in sport, as in life.
Supporters may expect the players to ‘do it for Walshy’ but that is easier to say than to do, rightfully opponents will give no quarter and will do their best to win.
So how do we assess the players? At the end of the season when it’s time to de-list, will the shadow of Phil Walsh’s death force the hierarchy to think twice before passing sentence on fringe players who’ve been battling far more than just football opponents.
And what of Danger? Patrick Dangerfield has put off contract talks with a growing feeling he’s heading home to start a family. Where’s his heart? How tough will it be to leave his football ‘family’ in their time of greatest need?
What of Taylor Walker? Handpicked by Walshy as the best man to lead the Crows to success. The appointment, among a short list of wonderful candidates, surprised many but so far Tex has proven to be a worthy leader.
Now Tex’s leadership skills will be put to the test in so many ways that no footy skipper has had to consider. Thankfully former captain Nathan Van Berlo is nearby, VB is the perfect ‘elder statesman to lend support and offer advice.
What of the supporters? We’re totally understanding now, but what if we lose every game ‘til the end of the season? Can we accept that it will take a long time for players to recover, some may never get over it.
This is unchartered territory, plenty of theories but nobody knows.
We’re all going to have to suck it up. Phil Walsh started something wonderful at the Adelaide Football Club and now it’s up to others to try to make it work amid a sea of unbridled grief.
Eventually, the pain will ease and life will return close to normal, but the AFC has been changed forever.
In spite of a long history in football as a player and coach, it’s difficult to comprehend the impact Phil Walsh had on the AFC, its supporters and the entire football community in less than 12 months as a senior coach.
Walshy started something very special, now it’s down to others to complete the job.
Just be patient.