By Natalie

What we’re talking about this week – Round 12.

hawks power ranger

1. Bye, bye, bye – Why is the bye spread over three rounds this year? Why are they playing a Thursday night game this week? So many unanswered questions.

2. Power Rangers are go – Yep, we’ve all seen the comparison shot with Hawthorn’s shiny shiny away jumper displayed next to the white and gold Power Ranger. Even Titus has had a crack at it. I cannot believe that was the end result and everyone in charge went, “Yep, we’re happy with that one.”

3. 41 seconds – The poor Dees can’t take a trick at the moment, going down to the Saints right at the very end. Alan Richardson’s reaction in the coaches’ box was a ripper though – skip to the last 30 seconds of this video to see what I mean.

4. President’s Round Table – I finally got around to watching the President’s Round table on Fox Footy with David Koch, Eddie McGuire, Andrew Pridham and Peter Gordon and it was one of the most interesting football segments I’ve seen in a long time. Honestly, I was riveted. Nice to hear from these guys for a change and I thought the questions were really well moderated. I can’t find a link online but the synopsis is here.

5. Origin record – 91,513 at the MCG to watch NSW beat Queensland in game two of the rugby league State of Origin. Cracking night and pretty happy to have seen the mighty Blues get up. The yelling out during the one minute’s silence for Ron Clarke probably wasn’t the highlight (or necessary) though.

You can take the girl out of NSW but you can’t take the NSW out of the girl.

MCG state of origin 2015

Friends origin

That moment when you sit with the good mates you’ve made since moving interstate 10 years ago and you’re watching your home team play the game you grew up with and they defeat the old enemy in front of a record crowd at one of the best sporting grounds in the world and some bloke you don’t even know sitting in front of you turns around and high fives you and life is just great.

91,513 at the MCG for game two of the 2015 State of Origin. Go you mighty Blues!

Bringin’ on the heartbreak.

wingard v geelong

These are getting harder to write every week.

On Friday I will admit I nearly cried all the way home after the game – or, I should say, during the final quarter of the game. I was working afternoon shift and not due to finish until 8pm. This meant if we were busy and I had to work all the way though, I’d make it home some time in the third quarter. So a colleague and I ordered pizza and settled in.

I suppose both my offsiders got an unexpected glimpse into what kind of supporter I am. I turned the sound down to almost mute because I couldn’t take the commentators. All the non Victorians will know what I mean when I say they always tend to try and ride a Vic team home. I grabbed a wooden ruler and twisted it repeatedly in my hands because otherwise I’m going to end up with scarring across my knuckles from digging my nails in. And then I paced. And paced. And jerked around. All while being totally silent in a mostly silent room. Nah, that wouldn’t have been odd at all.

The first quarter was good. We looked like we might have this one and even pushed out to a five goal lead at one stage. It felt like we were just getting the car warmed up and were waiting to accelerate off down the road. Then the Cats got a couple of lucky ones – that Robbie Gray handball kicked mid-air by Motlop springs to mind – and it was closer than I wanted.

Second quarter was alright but not as promising. Third quarter I waited for that acceleration to kick in and it just never did. Every time we grabbed a goal I expected the tide would start to turn but Port just didn’t want to put the effort in. It’s like they were doing just enough to stay in it and give me hope without actually wanting to win.

At three quarter time I packed my on call gear up and headed to the car. It was the vibe… And I was right because by all accounts we were hideous in that final 30 minutes. I just couldn’t bear to see this happen again and be forced to stand there while the Cats belted out their song. So I drove home, mostly in silence, and wanted to cry. The next couple of days I struggled to shake off the glum feeling because that was a win we definitely should have grabbed. It was a Friday night game at home FFS!

Wingard was sensational, the one shining light on an average night. The thing that pleased me most is that he played such an unselfish team game despite his individual brilliance. Shows to me how much he’s maturing as a player. Carlisle also tried hard and pretty much kept Hawkins right out of the game. Hombsch continues to improve each week as well; right now it’s our backline holding us up because out forwards don’t seem to be able to find a kick anywhere. Our game plan has stalled and we struggle under pressure. The fitness just doesn’t seem to be there or maybe it’s the willingness.

This is getting harder and harder and more heartbreaking each week. I want that side who kicked 60 God damn points in a quarter against last year’s premiers to run out again. Because the way we’re going, we’re not going to see September, not one tiny little bit.

 

 

What we’re talking about this week – Round 11.

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1. #Thank5 – In a perfect world, champions reach 300 games and leave the field chaired off by their team mates after a grand final win. Of course that rarely happens though if it’s anyone who deserved otherwise it’s Chris Judd. The Carlton and West Coast great ruptured his ACL against Adelaide and has subsequently retired from football. He’s a man who said pretty high standards not only on the field, but in his behaviour and professionalism off it. Enjoy retirement, Juddy – you will be missed.

2. Ryan Crowley – Probably one of the game’s most disliked players, the little shit from Freo has copped a year’s ban for taking methadone. It’s also been back dated to last September because yeah, we get so much consistency in decision making. They should have given him two.

3. Sam’s backside – The Freeze MND fundraiser at the G on Monday was sensational except for one thing: when I saw Sam Newman go down the slide in a mankini I had to call the police to report that I’d been eye raped.

4. The circle of parity – Love the graphic above, demonstrates just how close the 2015 season has been.

5. Ooh snap! – Ben Ross and Wendell Sailor arm wrestle on the NRL Footy Show. Once you hear it, you can’t unhear it. You’ve been warned. Have a watch here.

On the grind.

matt white

I remember watching Port Adelaide’s first game this year against Fremantle and feeling very disappointed at the end of it. As the team many were tipping to win the flag this year, I was gutted that Port led all game only to fall short at the end. Of course, that’s before Fremantle won their first nine games in a row and started having the season the Power were expected to have. While the Dockers have blitzed nearly everything in their way, Port’s season has turned into a slog.

The problem is, of course, that when we’re good we’re very very good (v Hawthorn – that opening quarter!) and when we’re bad we’re horrid (v Brisbane). Sitting at 9th on the ladder with five wins from 10 games is not where we’d hoped to be. We absolutely have the toughest draw in he AFL but whinging about it won’t change anything and at the end of the day, you’re pretty much gonna have to beat everyone if you’re gonna win the flag. But I switch on a game every weekend and rather than sitting back, relaxing and enjoying it, I’m always nervous and concerned – which Port Adelaide is going to show up?

Last weekend wasn’t much different. The 38-point win over the Bulldogs belied what a tough, close and grinding game it was for the first three quarters. While Port led at every change, the highest quarter break margin was only the 16-point lead we had at half time. I never had the ability to settle in because I was always a few seconds away from panicking we were going lose this. Nothing like living on the edge, right? Most of the contests involved hard tackling and subsequent stacks on of players jostling for the ball until the game looked like nothing more than a series of throw ups from the umpire.

Port aren’t back at it’s best but to use the key word again, we’re grinding there. I think the loss to Brisbane was particularly damaging for our confidence and often we seem to forget that we know how and are capable of playing good footy. Sure, other teams have probably figured us out a bit this season and we’ve lost the element of surprise, but we’re just not looking as consistently free flowing and assured as we have been in the past couple of seasons. The last quarter we regained a bit of that, kicked straight, and did the requisite damage on the score board. It was nice to see a bit of percentage added on and the boys run out eventual clear winners.

Wingard had an absolutely magic game and was best on ground for mine. I liked his effort all night and he competed well, tackling, setting up other players and kicking a couple himself. He’s just got the cliché silky skills. Wines had a cracker, as did Westhoff and Boaky did well even with two Dogs tagging him. Robbie Gray again, man… Just a pleasure to watch. I’m not sure I’ve ever appreciated him so much as I have this year and what he brings to our team is almost immeasurable. I’ve called him the Rolls Royce before and honestly, sometimes it’s like watching a race where the Rolls is lining up against the Datsun 180Bs. He’s just that good.

We play Geelong this Friday night in Adelaide and are favorites with the bookies, though the churning in my gut hasn’t subsided. Still nervous. I’m not sure you can take much from the Cats’ 69-point demolition of Essendon as an indication of how they’ll come to play against Port but clearly they’ll be feeling OK going in. And will both teams sitting at five wins for the season this will be a crucial scalp for Port to capture – all the while I’ll be shredding my hands to pieces and hoping for the absolute best.

What we’re talking about this week – round 9.

guthrie

1. Indigenous Round – What is it about themed rounds that brings out all the flogs? Every year, whether it’s Indigenous round, women’s round, the anti-homophobia games, social media gets clogged up with tossers who demand to know when it’s white straight male round. Some of the comments want to make me cry when I realise how much ignorance still exists in the community.

2. Mick’s gone – So, anyone surprised that Malthouse didn’t see out the season at the Blues? Nah, didn’t think so. I think it’s pretty tough to blame just one man for the mediocrity of 50 and there’s no doubt that at the end the club didn’t pay him the respect he richly deserved. Enjoy retirement Mick.

3. The great jumper swap – When Geelong’s Cam Guthrie played against his childhood hero Chris Judd last Friday night, he made good on a promise to himself that he’d one day ask for the Carlton great’s jumper. I think it was a very sweet moment and shows that doesn’t matter if you’re playing at the highest level, you still have heroes to look up to.

4. Boooooo – So why do they boo Goodesy? That seems to be the biggest question of the week. Hawks fans have come into question (though they are certainly not the only ones who do it) and claim it’s not motivated by race. Colour me sceptical. This is still one of the best pieces I’ve read on the subject.

5. One point – To divert from AFL for just a second because it’s Origin time aka most important time of the year for a New South Welshperson: one fucking point. You’re killing me NSW. You better bring it in game two, that’s all I’m saying.

300.

kane retirement

I’ve waited nearly a week to post this because I wanted to marshal my thoughts and not fire off simply based on emotion.

I’ll start by telling a story: at the end of September I’m taking three months off my job to travel across the US, Canada, Cuba and Mexico. It’s the absolute trip of a life time and I’m very much looking forward to it. I’ve been on a couple of overseas trips over the past few years and each time I’ve made sure to go after the footy season is over. I adore finals footy and grand final day is even better than Christmas in my mind. This year I wanted to take my extended trip and there wasn’t really a way to do it that allowed me to see out the season.

So I opened up my calendar and requested three months off starting on the 29 August. That would mean I’d been away for around five weeks before grand final day. Given Port Adelaide’s amazing ascension over the past two seasons I was certain this was going to be our year and I’d be destined to miss out on it. I’m not sure I could bear it. I also have a membership that gives me access to the ticket ballot for the GF meaning it was not only likely we’d be there but that I could go. So I made the executive decision that if Port made the grand final, I’d fly back. I’d throw $1500 at the problem and make sure I was home for that last weekend in September (or first weekend in October as the case may be).

Unfortunately my dad has decided to retire this year after 39 years in the New South Wales police force and his retirement function has been set for 19 September. Which then necessitated pushing my holiday back by three weeks and with it being too close to the grand final weekend, I’ve come to the sad realisation that I won’t have been away long enough to make it worthwhile to come back, nor is the time frame short enough that I can just push my holiday back until after the game.

The other sad realisation has, of course, been that Port Adelaide don’t look to be half the team they were in 2014 or even 2013 and are less likely to make the grand final than I assumed. We’re showing flashes of brilliance but the consistency, the determination the excitement and the run just don’t seem to be there. So no matter what my holiday planning looks like, it may not even matter.

The loss against Richmond last weekend was disgraceful, particularly given we were sending club stalwart Kane Cornes off after 300 games. Unlike some of our earlier losses this season Port never ever looked to be in the game. The Tigers had it all over us from the first bounce and at no stage did the Power even look like we were going to win. It was sloppy, indecisive football punctuated by kicks out on the full, kicks to opposition players and a total lack of options. Cornes was valiant and Gray tried hard, but we were like a Rolls Royce with a dead engine and no GPS.

God I wanted to smack the smile off that smug prick Riewoldt’s face.

On the day we were beaten by a team that played better and wanted it more, but we weren’t beaten by a better team. Port Adelaide are still the same side that fell short in a prelim by only three points last year, we’re still the same side that put on 60 points in a quarter against last year’s grand final winners, still the same side that can play exciting, dynamic and most importantly, winning, footy. This Port team is an incredibly talented team. We just need to step up and show that and I don’t know why we seemingly can’t.

I was at my best friend’s house watching the game with her family and to be honest, I was dying to leave with about 10 minutes to go but we hadn’t eaten our dessert yet. And I didn’t want to act like too much of a petulant child. And the dessert was lemon meringue pie, so… I stuck it out. I won’t lie, it really, really, really hurt. How dare they let someone like Cornes, someone who has given us so much for so long, go off with that type of insipid performance? I’m not sure why we couldn’t dig deep enough to show him the respect he deserved.

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I was pretty flat that night and through the next day. Then I saw the above picture on social media and it kind of jolted me back to reality. Because it’s true, we’re only a short way into a long season. While we may not look like immediate premiers, we still have 14 rounds in which to prove ourselves.

It’s not over and we’re not done, not by a long shot. So let’s do this.

And thanks for the memories Kane. As Kenny said, “Kane Cornes is Port Adelaide.” Go well mate.

 

The anticipation.

MCG at night

I love seeing the MCG lit up and ready to go.

I love seeing it when I leave work late on a Friday and am inching through traffic on Flinders Street, the lights shining on my right and the sky turning pink as the sun goes down. I love seeing it when I go through Richmond on a chilly winter night, the light poles stretching into the dark. I love seeing it in the distance as I walk down Punt Road to go to a game, the anticipation surging through me and the excitement stating to build.

I also love seeing it super early in the morning against the backdrop of a sunrise, wondering what exhilaration and heartbreak have been experienced there only hours before.

Nothing beats those moments when you walk up to the ground and everything seems ready to go, calling you closer and closer and closer… You figure out which gate you need to go through and there’s that first glimpse of the green grass on the field.

You’re here. It’s on. Let’s do this.

Why would you want to be anywhere else on a Saturday night in Melbourne?

(Cracking win by the Swans tonight too in the grand final replay against Hawthorn. Just sneaking home there at the end makes it even sweeter.)

What we’re talking about this week – Round 8.

brion the lion

1. Fyfe’s still in it – Say what you like about Nat Fyfe’s trip, I actually think the tribunal made the right call on this one. $1000 fine seems about right and it wouldn’t have sat comfortably for me if he was wiped out of the Brownlow running over what looked to be incredibly minor.

2. Old man Crawf – So I’m a bit late to this one but this week someone put me on to the Footy Show‘s Old Man Crawf segment with Melbourne players Bernie Vince and Jack Watts – I’ve watched it three times so far and each time I’ve cried with laughter. As in, had to wipe genuine tears from my face. It’s absolute gold and poor Bernie tries so hard, what a good kid.

3. Power failure – Everyone (myself clearly included) had them pencilled it for grand finalists at the very least and we knew they had the worst draw out of all the teams, however Port Adelaide’s start to the year has everyone wondering just where that side that fell only three points short of making last year’s GF has gone? They look tired and ineffective and getting flogged by Brisbane won’t go down as one for the highlights reel. Hopefully they lift this week and send Kane Cornes off in style.

4. Concussion, what concussion? – Nick Riewoldt’s head injury put concussions back on everyone’s list of talking points. How many is too many? What is the impact on life post footy? In the end concussions forced Lions’ great Jonathan Brown out of the game and given Riewoldt’s history of head knocks it might see him go the same way.

5. Brion the Lion – I’d say Brisbane can’t be serious but hey, they beat Port. Also you know you’ve made it when someone creates a fake Twitter account for you.

I can’t even deal.

lions win

That was probably the most insipid performance by the Port Adelaide football club under the Ken Hinkley regime. An absolute disgrace. I couldn’t even bear to stay to watch the end. To be beaten comprehensively by the team at the very bottom of the ladder is disgusting.

I think that sound is our team collapsing under the weight of this season’s expectations.

toddlers and tiaras no