I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The team I hate most in the AFL is North Melbourne. I hate their ‘Shinboner Spirit’ bullshit, I hate their grubby way of playing, I fucking despise Boomer Harvey. I’ve hated them for many years now and that feeling really shows no sign of abating. Forget Collingwood, Essendon or cross-town rivals Adelaide, the Kangaroos is where it’s at for me closely followed by St Kilda (but that’s a story for another day).
I read somewhere today that no team in the past 20 years has won the grand final after starting the season 0-3 so it appears last night was a handy time for Port Adelaide to grab a victory. We also haven’t beaten North at Etihad in 10 years so to say Port were up against it isn’t unrealistic. To win by eight points isn’t completely comforting but I’ll take it, especially the mini come back at the end.
I went to the game and I will make a couple of initial points. Firstly, I have no clue how to dress for the weather some times. I know the roof was shut but it was still freezing and ballet flats just don’t cut it. That’s a note to self if ever I read one. Secondly, at one stage they flashed up on the screen that it was awesome that just over 8000 North Melbourne fans had shown up to the ground to watch. They must be kidding themselves, that’s a disgrace. Almost that many Power supporters showed up so I can’t see that being a stat to be proud of. Finally, to sit with my people I would have had to upgrade my Victorian membership pass to a ground ticket even though the majority of the stadium was empty. Seriously, you’d get more people at the Yackandandah Show. So there’s a heap of vacant seats everywhere but I had to sit in the nosebleeds because I wasn’t eligible to join with my supporters. I get it but at he same time when games are two-thirds unoccupied then it would be good for the AFL to look at being lenient around this. It’s not all about the hashtag cash.
I think any time you attend the game the nervousness level goes up by 1000 and already this season I’m finding it hard to keep a lid on it. One thing I am terribly sick of is neutral supporters saying how great the Port Adelaide games have been to watch, especially this one and the game where Fremantle beat us. No, they weren’t great. I’m emotionally frazzled and worn down. My hand of nervousness is bruised and ripped to shreds from two hours of digging my nails in. Just once I’d like to have a game where we come out and comfortably beat the other team so I can simply enjoy a game of footy. None of this nerve-wracking stuff thanks fellas. At least this time Port managed to get the win though we definitely weren’t certainties, even right up to the bitter end. A quarter of footy has never felt so long.
I love the way Port Adelaide play – we take risks and we’re exciting but it hasn’t totally come off this season so far. Even during last night’s game I watched us make the same mistakes that have proven costly in our first two matches. We kicked poorly and struggled to hit targets. Our favourite thing at the moment seems to be to kick to a free opposition man or a three-on-one contest which does us no favours and stops our run. I’m all for taking the game on but other teams seem to have figured out how to shut us down and take us on instead. Port doesn’t have the element of surprise any more – other teams know we’re good and head into matches ready to play. I’m also not convinced that the weight of all those expectations isn’t having an impact.
I thought Pittard was spectacular last night and totally deserved his goal. White, Monfries and Broadbent stood up and I also thought Ryder started to show a bit of what he can do. Cornes was rested and that worried me but in Ken we trust and I have to accept the great man’s decisions. Wines’ hand injury will have some kind of impact and we still miss Lobbe. Schultz’s kicking was magic. Overall though, Port look a bit tired already. My brother raised this in the off season that he was unsure about the impact all this high intensity training would have on the team and I hate to say he may be right. We don’t seem to be able to run out games like we did over the past two years and we struggled to man up across the ground in the final half. Port has the toughest draw in the AFL this season – Freo, Sydney, North, Hawks to kick off, all 2014 finalists – but to win the flag you’ve gotta beat the teams. No excuses.
Port take on premiers Hawthorn in Adelaide next week on ANZAC Day and I’m lucky enough to be going. (That will probably raise the nervousness level to 10,000.) While I’m not confident we will notch up a win, anything is possible and I’m super excited to check out Adelaide Oval and be part of the whole pre-match experience. I particularly can’t wait to be with my people and sing Never Tear Us Apart. A mate who supports Hawthorn is also heading over so there’s plans to catch up for 68 schooners of Coopers afterwards – win or lose it’s going to be a cracker. I’ll get my Hawthorn voodoo dolls out this week for sure. Carn the Power!