Walking into the MCG for this Elimination Final, I’m struck by how much teal there is to accompany all the black & white. The Power fans have come out in force. The Port Adelaide renaissance, led by Chairman David Koch and coach Ken Hinkley, has been a surprise and a rare good news story in an Annus horribilis for the AFL. But I’m supremely confident going into this game, despite our 35 point loss to the Power in Round 14 at Football Park.
Collingwood dominate the first 5 minutes but it’s the South Australians who kick the first major when Justin Westhoff puts one through. Not long after that Jay Schulz marks and goals. Dane Swan, after missing an easier earlier shot on the run kicks the Pies’ only goal of the 1st term from a set shot deep in the forward pocket. In a mainly Collingwood members area, there are 3 vocal Port supporters in the row behind us. They are full of praise if the decisions go their way (“brilliant umpiring” is called for all of the Power’s frees) but deride any decision against their team. They blame Eddie, Demetriou, Kevin Rudd and the Syrian conflict among other things for the terrible decisions given against their beloved Power. But they are entertaining. 6 points down at the 1st break.
Travis Boak kicks the first goal of the 2nd quarter in the 1st minute. Immediately after Heath Shaw gives away a free to Angus Monfries which results in a goal to Port before the ball even makes it back to the centre. Three goals down but you get the feeling the Pies will kick into gear soon. But then Jay Schulz jumps on top of Nathan Brown to take as good a mark as has been seen at AFL level in 2013 and then kicks the goal to give Port Adelaide a 24 point lead. Finally the Pies get their first goal of the second term as Marley Williams kicks truly on the run from 50. A Gavin Crosisca/Ben Johnson type left foot defenders goal. Williams reminds me a lot of these two club greats. Cloke and Macaffer both goal and we’re back. A late goal for Port to Wingard and the quarter ends with Heath Shaw throwing the ball in Angus Monfries’ face. It goes unpunished but Heater is losing the plot. Port Adelaide up by 12 points at the main break.
Lachlan Keefe, strangely playing up forward and in back up ruck kicks the first goal of the quarter and we are back to just 6 points down. Swanny, almost single handedly keeping us in the game, marks, plays on a goals. Scores level. The Cooooolllingwood chant goes up. The fans can sense victory now and the atmosphere has lifted markedly. Two minutes later and Swan kicks another goal. This is the Collingwood we came to see. But that’s it from the Pies in this quarter as they start to kick the ball straight to Power players far too often. Wingard and Wines goal for Port who lead by 8 points at the last break.
Beams and Cloke both goal to start the last quarter and we’re back in front. We will win this now. Or so I and every other Pies fan at the ‘G thought. But the errors continue. For the rest of the game. We don’t score another goal while Port kick 4 more. Collingwood’s disposal is shocking. Usually skilful players like Steele Sidebottom are unusually unskilful. Even the great man Pendles kicks one out of bounds on the full. He’s strangely out of sorts tonight. The crowd, myself included, are numb. We weren’t meant to go out in the first week of the finals. We’re used to losing Preliminary and Grand Finals, not elimination finals. The Port fans loudly enjoy the last 5 minutes of the match as many Pies fans start filing out. I stay until the bitter end. I shake hands with the three Port supporters behind me who, despite wearing Port beanies and scarves and barracking loudly for the Power, reveal themselves to be West Coast fans from Perth who are just here to “barrack against Collingwood”. Good on them, they’ve had a great night.
An inconsistent season ends. The brilliant performances against Geelong and Sydney aren’t where we are at it seems, just a teaser. There will be change after this effort. I’m a believer in Buckley and am sure he will get this club back where we should be.
Just when I thought the night couldn’t get any worse there was one final insult. Outside the ground we walked past a busker absolutely murdering AC/DC’s “T.N.T.”. Really didn’t want to hear the line “T.N.T. I’m a power-load” being sung well after losing to the Power let alone being butchered by a terrible busker. He received no coins from me.
PORT ADELAIDE 2.4 6.6 8.9 12.15 87 def.
COLLINGWOOD 1.4 4.6 7.7 9.9 63
PORT ADELAIDE: Ebert, Lobbe, Logan, Wines, Wingard, Schulz, K.Cornes
COLLINGWOOD: Swan, Beams, Williams, Sidebottom
PORT ADELAIDE: Schulz 3, Wingard 3, Boak 2, Wines 2, Westhoff, Monfries
COLLINGWOOD: Swan 3, Cloke 2, Williams, Keefe, Beams, Macaffer
UMPIRES: Donlan, Dalgleish, Jeffrey
CROWD: 51,722 at the MCG