season 2015

The $410.

monfries ah chee hawthorn

“Do you want to put a bet on?”

My brother, lying on the couch, turned to me and uttered that sentence while I was lying on the floor in front of the heater at our family home in NSW. It had been a big couple of days with illness and the emotion of my dad’s retirement taking it out of me. I’m not much of a punter by any stretch but I said yeah, OK.

“Explain to me what all my options are,” I replied.

My brother went through them but in typical fashion I zoned out halfway through and had to make him repeat them to me. And I still didn’t get it. He suggested we look at a win by a margin and brought up the various odds (that part I could understand). I’d told a couple of mates on their Hawthorn podcast that I thought the Hawks would win by about 24 points but the bookies and everyone else had this lined up to be a flogging. Good for me. I went with $10 on Hawthorn to win by between 13-24 points which was paying $8 and then $10 on Port Adelaide to win by between 13-24 points which was paying $41.

One bet with the head, one bet with the heart.

We went out for a family dinner and missed the start of the game, which was for some insane reason being played at Etihad, the home ground of neither team. I had in my mind it was starting later but no, we missed the opening. My brother brought it up on his phone and told me Port were up. Honestly, I never take that as a good sign this year.

Except by the time we got home and turned it on, they were still up. At the end of the first quarter they were still up. At half time they were still up. And at three quarter time they were still up, though the Hawks had pared the lead back to just a single point.

Once again I find myself asking, where the hell has this Port Adelaide team been all year?

We attacked with confidence, direct and up through the middle. We defended as a team and didn’t panic at any stage. Whatever kind of magic that seems to be in the air when we play Hawthorn, I want it to be there all year long. This was the Port Adelaide team I know and love, the team that plays gutsy, tough, exciting football that makes you remember just why the hell you love this game so much.

I kept waiting for the inevitable reversal in the final term when I thought last year’s premiers would push back and overwhelm us but it just never happened. Both Robbie and Sam Gray played out of their skin, Boak was solid (is there a better captain in the AFL to lead by example? I think not but I’m supremely biased), and Chad was just, well, Chad. Brendon Ah Chee had a brain fade that I thought might cost us the game when he handballed over the top from a close mark to a waiting Monfries, who then scored a behind, however he made up for it with a late deserved goal. Love that kid. Jasper turned defence into attack in the backline and Broadbent and Hombsch were their usual calm, reliable selves. It’s such a cliché but the Power was absolutely on.

I love that next to no one predicted this. The fans just quietly believed, though I’ll admit my head kept telling me something different to my heart.

As the game wound to a close, the scoreline was set just right for me to win the bet. The seconds ticked down and Port sat 22 points in the lead. Tick… Tick… Tick… I’d told my brother that I didn’t care about the bet, I just really wanted the win. But at a minute and a half to go he looked up at me, surprise and delight on his face, and said “I think you’re going to get this.”

Let me tell you, no one has cheered harder for either a Hawthorn goal or Port not to get a goal than I did for that 90 seconds. Every stoppage, every out of bounds, saved us.

They probably heard us screaming from Etihad when that final siren went.

At the end, I was $410 richer. But beating Hawthorn twice in a year that will be better known for the disappointment and heartache it has brought? Well that’s just priceless.

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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.

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

The let down.

power

I think it’s fair to say that any game which finishes with you leaving the venue you’re watching it at before the final siren goes and then Tweeting, “Fuck this shit” isn’t going to go down as one of your all time greats.

After last week looking like the team I know they can be, Port just reverted to the same mistakes we’ve been making all year and let the West Coast Eagles back in to win by 10 points. Again, another game we lost rather than the opposition getting the better of us and possibly one that’s going to hurt for a while yet.

I started work at 5am this morning after only about three hours sleep so a nap was in order this afternoon. I woke up to realise I’d missed the first quarter, checked the score and then headed down to the local pub I seem to have become something of a weekend fixture at. Side note: these 4.40pm Sunday games are shitting me.

Anyway, we went into half time with a decent lead and then came out for the third quarter and promptly dropped the bundle. It’s been noted quite a few times now but the discrepancy in inside 50s is just doing us in. Because we’re letting the other team have a greater level of attack, Port are having to rely on a) our defence continually holding us up (which it has and has been the only thing keeping us in games at times) and b) ensuring we score a goal off every inside 50 we get. It’s no way to live.

I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again; we look tired. For a team that has so publicly talked about the work put into our fitness regime in the off season, Port just don’t look like they’re up and about, at least not in the way we have in the past two years. I don’t know if we’re just holding on and going to show our cards in the area as the season wears on, but right now I don’t see a team that looks fresh.

Something else that someone on social media questioned – which I hadn’t thought of – is the influence of Michael Voss. Unfortunately our midfield hasn’t looked as effective under his tutelage. Clearly Phil Walsh was excellent in this area, hence why he now has a job as a senior coach at a different club, but I’m not yet convinced Vossy has made a positive impact at Port Adelaide. I’m going to hold fire on blaming him just yet but it certainly is food for thought.

Stunned is probably the best way to describe the feeling after this loss. I think it was definitely a game all Port fans thought we would win, especially given we were playing at home. This season has been one of the most topsy turvy in a while and we’re all starting to expect the unexpected, I don’t expect the Power to keep playing this way. To be the best then we need to be more consistent – and sort out those inside 50s.

For a team who’s motto is ‘We never ever give up’, Port Adelaide have spent more than their fair share of games this season simply rolling over. Enough is enough. If we don’t put some massive percentage on next week against Brisbane then I’m going to be very unhappy.