AFL Round 14 – Port Adelaide v Collingwood: PORT (Pretender Or Real Threat?) answer smacks Pies in the face

When my daughter Holly suggested at the start of the year that we head to the Pies/Port game, which would serve as a memorial game for the late J-Mac, it seemed a good idea.  A few days in Radelaide and a match between a predicted top four team and a predicted bottom four team which the Pies could reasonably expect to win comfortably.  How lovely.

 

Roll forward to the last Saturday of June and we are at Footy Park watching seventh play eighth, with the Power having just knocked off the reigning premiers. We have looked somewhere between shaky and second-rate against the good teams other than the Cats, and at their best the Power have been good.  Are we a contender or pretender?  We can’t prove the former by beating the eighth placed team but a loss will provide even more evidence to support the latter proposition.

 

As we take our seats after a sardine-like trip on the Footy Express bus, I feel like I have entered a time warp and we are back at Vic Park in the 1980s.  This time however, the boot is on the other foot.  Although we are familiarly surrounded by black and white, ALL of the rest of our bay also wear teal (surely a club born in the working class part of town would call it green).  WE ARE SURROUNDED !!

 

Actually the Port crew are pretty friendly, and we discuss the pre-AFL unofficial alliance that existed between the South Australian and Victorian Magpies.  A few Port fans inform me that we are lucky we are not at a Crows game. Civilities cease as the game starts.  The Pies kick the first two goals of the game and the Port crew begin booing the umps and voicing conspiracy theories. Very Vic Park.

 

The pre-game banter and first ten minutes of the game were the best bits of our day, which quickly turned to crap.  After a bright start the Pies were mauled by a team which ran harder, tackled harder, rebounded better, had multiple forward targets and a better game plan.  Port’s first two goals came from us butchering the ball going forward and being burnt on the break.  Nathan Brown was content to amble along five metres behind Schultz and concede a mark on the boundary 45 metres out in the “black hole” pocket and had to watch as the ball sailed over his head straight through the middle.  Patterns were set for the evening.

 

We looked structurally vulnerable at each end.  Defensively we rely heavily on Reid and Shaw, and with the former missing through injury, we were short one tall. Port successfully dragged Shaw back to be the last defender for much of the game and he gave us nothing, putting in one of his worst games for the club.  In attack we were also one tall short, and with Lynch again looking like a lumbering fumbling B-grader, we resorted to our usual plan of sticking it high in the air for Travis to compete with two, three and sometimes more defenders.  Utterly predictable and utterly impotent.

 

Port were very impressive, doing to us what we did to teams in 2010 and 2011.  Most of our possessions were under considerable harassment and they rebounded and spread well when they won the ball.  There are a few things we used to do in those years that are now distant memories:

  •  win contested footy (we are 13th in the table for contested possessions)
  •  kick to a spread of forward targets (Cloke, Dawes, Brown and the midsize Macaffer)
  •  move the ball down the field through a chain of uncontested possessions by blokes working hard to get into space
  •  travel well (we have now dropped 4 of our last 5 interstate games).

I could go on but it’s too demoralising.

 

At half-time we trailed by 16 points, with our only reason to smile being Elliott’s screamer and resultant goal in the second quarter.  It must have been a great mark because a fair percentage of the Port crew applauded.  Not very Vic Park.

 

The third quarter was a tug of war.  Swanny was moved forward after having no impact in the first half. When we kicked the first goal we were close enough if good enough.  When Travis had a good grab on Swanny’s long bomb into the goal square midway through the quarter, my heart leapt.  Alas he couldn’t hold on to it, Port took the ball the length of the ground for their only goal of the quarter, which matched our solitary major, and that was pretty much it.

 

The game predictably opened up in the last quarter and unfortunately the home team made all the running, being deserved winners.  A text from my brother Paul midway through the last quarter suggested that the early bus was a good option. I wouldn’t have been game even if I had wanted to, as the Port faithful around us made the most of a rare win against the Pies, holding on tight to their anti-umpire paranoia (“bloody Victorian cheats!”) despite the four points being in the bag and the free kick count being in their favour.  Very Vic Park!

 

There were very few positives for the Pies, but the notable one was the outstanding form of Seedsman, who played the best game of his brief career, taking on the game and providing dash and skill.  He was the Pies’ only standout, while for the Power Broadbent, Brad Ebert, Cornes, Hartlett and Wingard were excellent.

 

Ignoring Roger Federer’s 24-hour rule for drawing too many conclusions after a loss, I immediately wrote off the season.  I had previously been more fuelled by hope than expectation and what expectation did exist evaporated into the Adelaide evening air.

 

It was a very disappointing evening but we survived it.  Getting off the bus as we slunk home, I ran into a Port fan I had chatted with on the way to the game.  He told me that he was coming to Melbourne next weekend to watch Port and was also going to watch us take on the Blues.  He told me that he hated Carlton and would be barracking for the Pies.  I nearly smiled.    

 

Port                 4.2       7.3       8.6       13.8 (86)

Collingwood   2.3       4.5       5.6       7.9 (51)

 

Goals :

Port: Schulz 3, Westhoff 3, Monfries 2, Wingard 2, Brad Ebert, Wines, Boak

Collingwood:  Dwyer 2, Cloke 2, Kennedy, Elliott, Maxwell

 

Best

Port: Broadbent, Brad Ebert, Hartlett, Cornes, Wingard, Boak, Jonas, Westhoff

Collingwood:   Seedsman, Pendlebury, O’Brien, Maxwell, Sinclair

 

Crowd 31, 121

 

Umpires : Donlon, Stevic, Bannister (bloody Victorian cheats !)

 

Votes for the Malarkey Medal

3 Broadbent (Port)

2 Brad Ebert (Port)

1 Seedsman (Collingwood)

Comments

  1. Steve

    Great that you saw alot of collingwood in Port. I’ve always thought of them as the Adelaide Collingwood too and just think its a shame that they can’t play in their prison bar guernsey. As I posted elsewhere a few minutes ago, I reckon you two should play off each year for who gets to wear the back and white stripes, It’d make for an incredible rivalry.

  2. Luke Reynolds says:

    Brilliant Steve, really enjoyed your account of your Adelaide weekend. Our 2013 expectations really did evaporate in the Adelaide air on Saturday night. Somehow I just can’t hate Port, maybe its the magpies thing, maybe its admiring their struggle to get into the AL after failing in 1990, or just that they’re not the crows.

    On another note, if Port are the Adelaide Collingwood, who is the Perth Collingwood? Is there a Tasmanian Collingwood? North Hobart?

  3. PeterSchumacher says:

    I always thought that Collingwood were the Melbourne Port Adelaide. Totally agree that it is a shame that Port can’t wear the prison bar guernsey, indeed worse than being a shame it is a travesty and the fact that they don’t means to me that they are not the “real” Port Adelaide that I used to hate in my youth.

  4. Funny Pete. And yes it just aint Port without those prison bars.

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