FOR 24 years Adelaide legend Mark Bickley refused to accept it.
Never denied it, but also never publicly accepted that his flatulence cost his team the 1993 AFL premiership.
Finally, on Wednesday night, the former Adelaide captain finally cracked.
As told by Fox Footy’sNineteen Ninety Sevendocumentary, Bickley, now 48-years-old, has finally told the full truth on one of the most famous farts in football.
The “bomb” was dropped at half time of the Crows’ preliminary final against Essendon at the MCG — and popular history shows few gas leaks have had greater implications in Australian sport.
Leading 12.12 (84) to the Bombers’ 6.6 (36) at the main break, the Crows clomped into the dressing rooms at half time just two quarter of football away from a grand final.
Coach Graham Cornes has ordered his players into a tight huddle to hear his final instructions before the second half.
Cornes has previously said the main focus of his half time pep talk was simply about telling his players to keep doing what they did right in the first half.
He told The Adelaide Advertiser in 2013 he was cautious of telling his players to expect Essendon to make a comeback in the second half after a bad experience during his playing and coaching career at SANFL club Glenelg where he believes he triggered a “self-fulfilling prophecy” by telling his players their opposition will make a run in the second half.
His words are lost on the players.
As Cornes’ intensity is building during his speech, the players are suddenly distracted by a heinous stench that blankets the entire playing group.
Bickley has previously been fingered as the culprit who dealt it. Now he’s admitted that he who denied it, supplied it.
“Graham Cornes called us into a tight bunch and was talking to us and I had a bout of flatulence,” Bickley said in the special Fox Footy doco celebrating the Crows’ breakthrough 1997 premiership win over St Kilda.
“Is that the difference? Is that the reason we lost that game? I’m not so sure.”
His teammates are sure.
“I think the guys will all attest that ultimately it was Bickley’s fart that caused us to capitulate in the second half,” former Crows tall David Pittman said.
“It was outrageous. You would try to keep a straight face, but even Graham was trying hard to ignore it, but no one could.
“It was too pungent. The huddle was trying to move as one away from it.”
Crows legend Mark Ricciuto said the smell completely de-railed their focus.
“Everybody just could not concentrate,” he said.
“Blokes were looking around trying to see who had done it.”
Crows great Nigel Smart said: “It had an impact”.
Former Adelaide ruckman Shaun Rehn described it as “a bomb”.
The Bombers would go on to execute one of the most famous comebacks in the history of the game to win 17.9 (111) to 14.16 (100).
The Dons would then go on to win the flag, defeating Carlton on grand final day.
The Crows kicked just two goals in the second half on that famous day.
The documentary also sheds new light on Crows star Andrew Jarman’s famous set-shot spray in the second half.
Having come from behind to take a strong overhead mark in a big pack just 15m out from the big sticks, Jarman went back, lined the Sherrin up and missed one of the most painful set-shots of his career.
“Being around the block a few times, I know that if I kick this it will stop momentum and give us momentum back,” Jarman said.
“I was 25m out. I’ve kicked a thousand from there. I had (Essendon stars) Mark Harvey, Bomber Thompson, giving it to me. When you teach young kids to kick set shots for goals you have to kick through the ball, you use a three iron and punch it.”
He didn’t. And it still haunts him.
“It’s probably one of the toughest things I’ve had to go through because I was that far away from getting our footy club to a grand final,” he said.
“So that’s something I have to live with for the rest of my life.”
Jarman’s miss was never going to save the Crows that day if these other witness accounts to Bickley’s half time crop-dusting are anything to go by.
MARK BICKLEY (midfielder, Adelaide): This has become footy folklore. I play it up a little bit. Greg Anderson was working for Musashi at the time and he had us on all these powders and mixtures which did play havoc with everyone’s gas. Just before we went out after halftime Cornesy pulled us into this tight pack and someone let one go. I don’t think it was me to be quite honest. But I haven’t denied it because I can’t remember. Someone farted while he was trying to be serious and deliver this great speech and everyone was holding their nose. When you get in that tight huddle it’s not a great place to drop one — it’s worse than an elevator.
MATTHEW LIPTAK (forward pocket, Adelaide): It was the most ill-timed release of gas. Cornesy was in the most serious mode, trying to get us up for the second half and we’re all in the huddle. Musashi was the choice of supplement in those days and that was rumbling in Bicks’ stomach for a while. He just let out this stink bomb and not only did it sound like his stomach was falling out but the smell that reached out just changed the demeanour of the halftime break. I don’t know if that was the thing that bombed us but it changed the mood in there that’s for sure.
SHAUN REHN: If you look back it was quite funny because Graham found it quite difficult to make his last speech when the smell was so rancid. It basically emptied out the main area.