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Is Saad the least boo-able player in the AFL?




Essendon fans experienced a feeling Carlton fans know all too well on Friday night.

What is the word for when you remember how good times used to be, knowing that the present is much worse? The dictionary definition could have a picture of a Carlton member. Let’s call the term “Carltonism”.

Carlton supporters may have in fact invented the concept, but currently it is Essendon fans who are feeling it most.

Good on Bombers fans, though, who saw a moment to cheer on a very disappointing 150th birthday celebration. In the last quarter, the game all but lost to one of their least-liked rivals, Adam Saad was driving towards goal. It seemed that Saad, formerly loved but now on a spectrum between tolerated and despised by Essendon, knew that kicking a goal against his former employers would really sting.

Saad did not kick his goal though. The chorus of cheers from Essendon fans when they saw their former player tackled and put off his kick was one of their loudest of the evening. As the boos rang out, as they had been for Saad all night, it made me wonder, is there a player less “boo-able” than Adam Saad in the AFL?

Saad is small, but that doesn’t stop him leaping at marks and playing with courage. He is tough in the fair sense, not the dirty sense. He is reliable, rarely missing games or getting beaten. As a back pocket, he is not thrust into the limelight.

He probably should be being spoken about as an All Australian this year, but I’ve seen minimal coverage of that. He is an entertainer, his surges out of defence a weekly highlight and lifter for Carlton.

You can understand why you would dislike Saad as an Essendon fan. He left in his prime, aged 26, and to, of all places, Carlton. The media portrayed the move as a whack against Essendon and a tick for Carlton, rightly or wrongly.

Maybe Saad’s continued excellence is what hurts most. He has saved some of his finest work in a Carlton jumper for Essendon in his two games against them as well.

For what it’s worth, Essendon arguably did well out of the trade. They got a first-round pick and managed to make a player of Nick Hind, who plays a similar role, albeit to a lower standard to Saad. Statistically, Hind and Saad are not too different. Watching live, though, it is clear the Carlton man is a much tighter defender, more team-oriented and impactful.

Bombers supporters will one day be cured of their “Carltonism” and be able to live in the present, just as Blues fans are trying to do right now. But for now, it may be that the simple pleasures of watching a former player (a fair, respectable player destined for finals action) get tackled and not kick a goal is the best they can hope for.





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