Showdown XXXVIII

Port Adelaide Showdown 2015

Oh hey there, I know you. You’re Port Adelaide.

It’s a comforting feeling watching your football team and recognising them by the way they play. For the first few rounds of this season it feels like something has been slightly off kilter at the Power. Last year’s dominance and accuracy appeared to be MIA, even in the win over North in which the team struggled to hold the lead at the end. It wasn’t until that awe inspiring first quarter against the Hawks that I thought we might still have it in us, but the insipid final term left lingering doubt. Tonight though, I recognised us.

We are Port Adelaide. And we’re back.

Showdown is always an intensely competed game regardless of where each of the Adelaide based teams sit on the ladder at the time. There’s something about it that lifts each side to play at a level that’s almost out of place in the home and away season. It’s not just playing for four points, it’s playing for pride and local dominance. I’ve been to two Showdowns in Adelaide, both won by Port, and have fond memories of watching the great Chad Cornes absolutely give it to the Crows fans in a 2006 game at AAMI Park (which I was hung over as hell watching and seated right in the sun). Not being a native South Australian I can’t comment on what the week is like in workplaces and schools and households across the state, and I don’t have that born hatred of Adelaide that most Port fans cultivate. But I know I bloody well enjoy beating them.

Tonight’s 24-point win in the Crows’ home game at Adelaide Oval seemed to be something of a revival. Port lead at every break but it’s how we led that was impressive. This is the first time this season I’ve really seen us scrap for every contested ball – we worked our guts out tonight chasing anything and everything down. Travis Boak really played a captain’s game here and his second and third efforts seemed to lift the side and inspire them to do the same. I thought a lot of the time Port were very unlucky not to get frees for tackling the Crows players and causing a holding the ball offence, however the umpires seemed content to let it go. Our defence was strong as Adelaide repeatedly sent the ball into their 50 and to be fair, poor kicking by the Crows really let them down in the first half

One of my favourite things though was how incredible Lobbe and Ryder seem to be working in the ruck together. I reckon this is the first game where they’ve really found their groove and it was a pleasure to watch them get first hands on the ball and repeatedly tap to a hard running Port player. Schultz didn’t miss a kick and he’s such a valuable asset; when he has the ball we know we’re in safe hands. It was also good to see Gray back in the side because that man is just a Rolls Royce. Absolute class.

Tonight was nerve wracking but no damage to my hands to report this week. Instead it just kept me on the edge of my seat all night (and nervously stopped me from finishing all my chicken parma) as the Crows kept finding a way to bridge the gap to under 10 points. With the spectre of last week’s hideous fourth quarter still casting a shadow over Adelaide Oval I was slightly concerned, however the team did me proud this week and really ensured they dominated through to the end.

I don’t have Fox Footy at home so games like this that aren’t shown on free to air TV are always tricky for me. I could have stayed back an extra two hours at work and watched the game there but it probably would have been annoying for my colleagues to have on and I’m not sure my reputation can take the battering of having them all know what I’m like when I watch football. Plus I don’t really want to be hanging around at work in case it gets busy. I could have listened to it on the radio but it’s just not the same. In the end I went down to a local pub in Camberwell only to find the Essendon v St Kilda match was being played on the big screen and we’d been relegated to the back of the bar. Never mind, I ordered a pint of Carlton Draught and settled in next to the bar flies. Lucky they all seemed to be going for the Power. Later when the Victorian game had finished, I switched to watching it on the big screen and ordered some dinner, plus I ended up sitting next to another lone Power fan so it was nice to have a chat to one of my people. There was also two blokes nearby who were just keen to watch a good game of footy and commentated what was left of the game. I nearly lost my shit when Boaky grabbed the ball and ran around in the pocket, trying to bounce one though on a tight angle before ultimately missing. “Daicos!” one of them yelled and then when the kick went astray, the other said loudly, “I would have kicked that.” I couldn’t stop laughing and then they started laughing too.

Anyone who’s talked to me about footy would know that one of my favourite sayings is that the Crows kicked five goals in three minutes to make it into the 1997 grand final. Basically that means if you don’t have a 30 point buffer and there’s three or more minutes to go, then it ain’t in the bag. A couple of friends and my dad told me they thought we had it midway through the last but I can never relax – until that siren goes I stay on edge. Watching Kane, Robbie, Chad and Jay kicked those last ones was an exceptional relief. I’m feeling good about playing West Coast at home next week, who are sitting fifth on the ladder but are 3-2 the same as us, and I know it sounds cheeky but a percentage booster would be much appreciated.

Tonight Port gave a nod to it’s heritage by wearing the white back jumpers. I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed them. It was good to see that not only di we look like the Power of old, we got back to playing like them too.

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