MCG

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.

Advertisements

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!

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.)

Port Adelaide proud.

MCG

I wrote this after Port Adelaide lost the 2014 preliminary final to Hawthorn by three points at the MCG, a game I attended. It’s been a big two years for the club and supporters definitely have something to get excited about. However losing a prelim always aches and I was feel pretty down for the next couple of days – writing definitely helps.

One of the questions I get asked fairly often is why do I barrack for Port Adelaide. I’m not South Australian; in fact, I’ve only been to Adelaide three times in my life. I grew up in country NSW in a family that supported rugby league teams and played rugby union. AFL never even factored in our lives until the Sydney Swans made the 1996 grand final and we started to show an interest.

The reason I support Port Adelaide is simple: I just do.

I’m honestly not entirely sure how it came to be. They were the new team in the competition in 1997 and for some reason I picked them. I picked them over the team that represents my people and my home state, I picked them barely knowing a single player, I picked them with no SANFL Port Adelaide Magpies background. I think a friend at the time had shown some interest in them and I simply went along for the ride – new team, new football supporter.

It’s probably fair to say that when people pick a team to support in any football code, they choose the one with qualities they identify most with. They want to feel like a winner so they choose a team with recent success, they feel like an underdog so they choose the battlers, for bravery and toughness they might find a team with a player who signifies this. Even those who choose a team based on family loyalties or physical location are choosing to be part of something greater than themselves, something that unites them with the people they love best.

Yesterday I watched my team – the team I have chosen – lose by three points in a preliminary final. The same team that two years ago finished second last on the ladder, broke and hopeless. The team that sacked it’s coach mid-season and had to cover the sea of empty seats at home grounds with teal coloured tarps to disguise the lack of interest. The team that was in such financial strife it seemed hard to believe it could keep going. The team that lost one of their own in a devastating incident on an end of season trip.

Somehow, at their very lowest point, Port Adelaide found a reason to keep fighting. They picked a coach who was effectively the last man standing, a man who had to be convinced to even apply for the job. They found an underrated captain who could lead by example. They propped up their young list with recycled players that found a niche in a  new home. And they recruited a president who could reinvigorate supporters’ love for the silver, teal and black and white.

There is a massive amount of belief both in and at the Port Adelaide Football Club these days. It’s that kind of belief that in two years has taken us from that spot at the bottom of the ladder to effectively finishing third this season. And with one of the youngest lists in the competition you can only feel that things are going to get better and better for us. Our self belief – for both players and fans – is back with a vengeance.

Three points. Three fucking points. But from 30-points down mid-way through the final quarter I watched my boys give absolutely everything they could out there on the MCG. I watched them attack the game and kick goal after goal until the final siren put an end to their efforts. It absolutely hurts to lose and so it should but I couldn’t be prouder of their efforts. We are a team that could walk off that ground with our heads held high knowing that on any given day, our best is going to be enough.

I cannot wait for 2015. Yes We Ken indeed.

What Hinkley, Boak, Koch, Thomas and everyone else at Port Adelaide has achieved in just two years has been unbelievable. They’ve united the club and it’s supporters, created a brilliant new home for us in Adelaide Oval and reinvigorated our spirit. The right people at exactly the right time.

I last watched Port Adelaide lose a preliminary final in 2003 to Collingwood and I went to the toilets and cried. Last night there were a few tears as well, especially when my family called me. Today a friend called me to check I was still going to an event we had on today and she asked how I was going. “Great,” I said. “Don’t lie,” she replied, “I saw the game yesterday.” “OK then, shithouse.” And I meant it. Today I have been sad in that kind of way you feel on the day after your birthday or the 27 December. All the fun and excitement is over for another year.

One of Port Adelaide’s mottos is ‘We never give up’. And we haven’t. We didn’t give up at any stage during this finals campaign, fighting as long and hard as we could against Fremantle and Hawthorn. We didn’t give up after simply making the finals last year, when no one respected us enough to believe we could do it again this season. We didn’t give up when our club was at its lowest point ever – no coach, no money, no support, no hope. Instead we chose to collectively believe, a decision that has infinitely paid dividends.

When we unite to sing Never Tear Us Apart we mean it.

Respect. Pride. Determination. Courage. Commitment. Belief. If I was picking a team today I’d choose one that had all those qualities.

Lucky I already do. And that’s the reason I support Port Adelaide.

#weareportadelaide