Dangerfield proving his worth
AND to think the Adelaide media questioned the Crows' drafting of Victorian Patrick Dangerfield in 2007.
The reaction at the time was akin to the shopkeeper from cult British skit show The League of Gentlemen: "We're a local club, for local players".
The 'locals' were outraged that an outsider was chosen - with the No.10 pick - when they deemed Brad Ebert, the son of South Australian footy legend Russell Ebert, more worthy, and still available.
'Dangerfield had better be good', screamed the Adelaide Advertiser after the Crows overlooked the state under-18 skipper, before adding 'Adelaide is in danger of committing a serious draft crime', highlighting the fact the club also chose the serviceable Ken McGregor over home town hero Matthew Pavlich in 1998 and problem child Laurence Angwin ahead of Shaun Burgoyne in 2000.
You can just picture 17-year-old Dangerfield rocking up to training at West Lakes for the first time and one of the 'locals' asking, "you ain't from around 'ere, are ya?"
The spotlight on the decision intensified late in the 2008 season when Ebert, making a promising start to his career after being snapped by West Coast at No.13, earned a Rising Star nomination - while Dangerfield was allowed to remain in Victoria to finish his VCE and play in the TAC Cup under-18 competition with the Geelong Falcons.
Dangerfield would play just two games with the Crows during that first year. But over the next three and a bit seasons, he has gone well beyond justifying his selection.
Ebert has since turned out to be a very good player, and since made it home, to Port Power, at the end of last season.
But, Dangerfield has the footy world talking with his ascension to elite status this month, after a series of breathtaking performances, which have played no small part in the Crows sitting second on the ladder with a 7-1 record, and proving themselves to be genuine premiership threats.
It's been one of those real 'star is born' periods.
Matt Rendell's time at Adelaide as recruitment officer may be remembered for all the wrong reasons - thanks to his misguided remarks about only drafting indigenous players with one white parent - but he was the man who persuaded the Crows to take the gamble and pick Dangerfield, at least 15 places higher than he was expected to go.
It has proven to be a masterstroke.
Dangerfield looks the complete package. Not unlike the man whose number he inherited, Mark Ricciuto, he's solidly built (187cm/92kg) and can win contested ball through sheer strength, while, like Chris Judd in his heyday, can burst from packs with scorching pace.
Described as a jet, he was after all the 100m and 400m champion at the Victorian school athletics championships in 2007.
Rendell recently described the selection as "a bit ballsy", saying he was under "severe pressure" to pick Ebert ... "but I just felt we needed something a bit different for our midfield... we needed some more speed and power in there, which 'Danger' could bring. Patrick has that X-factor and could well become the club's next captain."
On the back of four 30-plus disposal games in the last five weeks and leading his side to stunning wins over Sydney (in Sydney), Geelong and Carlton (in Melbourne), Dangerfield suddenly sits fourth for clearances and contested possessions.
Adelaide is bending over backwards to get the now 22-year-old to re-sign, which he is expected to do soon. It seems he's one of 'theirs' now.
THE AFL'S BIGGEST IMPROVERS
From 2011, his disposal (17.0 to 27.3), contested possession (10.2 to 15.4) and clearance (2.9 to 4.6) averages have spiked in 2012.
Out of brother Joel's shadow, the Eagle's disposal average has skyrocketed - from 18.7 to 27.9.
Finally transforming promise into performance in his ninth season, the Bomber's disposals (24.8 to 29.1) and marks (5.1 to 8.4) tallies have soared.
The Crows' spearhead has booted 23 goals in seven games in 2012 after slotting just 32 from 13 in 2011.
Pushed out of Adelaide last year when averaging 12.3 hit-outs, the mulletted ruckman is averaging 29.3 at Richmond.
The Swans' livewire kicked 16.33 in his first two seasons. He's booted 17.6 in 2012.
The big Blue's hit-out average has jumped from 20.6 to 25.3. He's also booted 11 goals in 2012- after slotting 14 in his first four seasons.
The Magpie small forward has become a midfield ball magnet, his disposal (19.6 to 28.0) and clearance (1.8 to 4.4) averages up.
Crossing from West Coast to Port has seen his disposal average climb from 13.6 to 21.5.
The quiet-achieving Dockers' disposal average has risen from 12.6 to 20.6.
The big Cat's marks inside-50 has climbed from 2.3 to 3.9 and helped push his goalkicking average up to 2.6 from 1.5.
The unheralded Swan is suffering no second-year blues, his possession (11.7 to 20.6) and clearance (1.5 to 3.8) averages spiking.