AFL Round 19 – Adelaide v Port Adelaide: The Chad is dead, long live the Chad

This story begins way back on Saturday the 18th of September in 1999 at Gipps Road Oval in Greystanes, a western suburb of Sydney. It was about 1:45 pm and Sydney University was assembling for the three quarter time huddle in the SFA reserve grade Grand Final. Down by less than a goal to Macquarie University our coach, David Gage, gave one of the most inspirational speeches I have ever heard. He ended his rant with something like “we are going to fight hard and win just so we can go on the premiership pub crawl because the premiership pub crawl is one of the best days you’ll ever have in your life”. We all screamed like mad men, played hard solid football and won by nine points. It was to be my last competition game of football and later that night I hung my boots in the rafters of the Sydney University Grandstand Bar, never to be seen again.

But the coach was right; the Sydney University premiership pub crawl is one of the best days you’ll ever have in your life. It starts at 11 am on the day after the premiership at the New Hampshire Hotel at Camperdown and the intent is to get to the Mercantile Hotel in the Rocks by midnight. It is about six kilometres with over twenty five pubs. There are also traditions that must be maintained. The first person to utter a sound at the Argyle Hotel must shout everyone else at the next pub. The barmaid at the Southern Cross Hotel must be serenaded with a raucous version of “You’ve lost that loving feeling”. Beers must be consumed whilst sitting in the rafters of the Sir John Young Hotel and a nominated singer must do a rousing karaoke version of “Delilah” at the Covent Garden Hotel. Just to mention a few.

By the time we got to Circular Quay we were well and truly under the weather. As I walked under the rail bridge I looked back to see a few of my teammates talking to someone who looked like Terry Wallace. It couldn’t be Plough, what was he doing in Sydney? We entered the Orient and, to my surprise, it was full of AFL dignitaries. One stood out in particular. It was Graham Cornes. His hatred of Port always amused me so I wanted to spark up a conversation. I approached, introduced myself and asked him what he was doing in Sydney. He told me he was there for the Brownlow Medal count the following night and then turned his back to me. I thought, “bugger that, ask him a few more questions”, so I tapped him on his shoulder and inquired as to who was his tip for the Brownlow. He said Crawford and then turned his back to me again. I tapped him on the shoulder again and asked what he thought of his son Chad playing for Port. He simply said “It is a good opportunity for him” and before he turned his back on me again I said “well if they can get a bit of Port Adelaide mongrel into him then he should get the success you should of had” and turned my back on him.

I’m not sure if Port did install the mongrel into Chad Cornes or whether it was inherent. I suspect the latter. In the early days I expected Chad would serve out his initial contract and then ask to be transferred to the Crows. After all, his father was the inaugural Crows coach, he grew up a Crows fans and as a young teen he even ran out onto Princes Park when Modra kicked his 100th goal in 1993. As I grew to really appreciate Chad the player and the man I was surprised at how much the Crows fans hated him. Actually they detested him. It was then I realised the Crows supporters disliked Chad for the same reasons Port fans disliked Graham. They were both cut from the same cloth, but sitting on opposite sides of the fence. They were both combative competitors who never took a backward step and hated losing.

The Chad was a warrior for the club. I’ll never forget him standing on the fence cheering to the Port faithful at the end of the 2004 Grand Final. He played many great games. The last Showdown in 2006 where he really gave it to the Crows fans and a game at the SCG earlier the same year where he single handedly brought down the reigning premiers.

I was disappointed in the way Chad left the club. The rumours say Primus showed an injury riddled Chad the door in order to make way for new players. There are other rumours. Either way Chad handled himself with honour and refused to bag the club as he headed for a player-coaching role at GWS. If there was an animosity between Primus and Chad the Chad got his payback when playing for GWS he ended Primus’s coaching career. However his battered body seemed to get the better of him and a few weeks ago Chad announced his playing retirement.

The Chad is dead.

A year to the day of the famous GWS loss Port was being hosted by the Crows in Showdown XXXV. Things had changed dramatically in that year. Instead of being a club heading to the liquidators a perfect storm had arisen that gave Port a chance to cement themselves in the top eight. Carlton had lost to Fremantle and a win would put Port two games clear with four games to go. So it’s off to the pub to watch the game with the NSW supporters group. There was about twelve of us there and a lot of nervous tension.

The start was tight like so many other Showdowns. In the opening minute Robbie Gray snaps the ball from a forward pocket clearance that bounces on the goal line and then back into play. The bounce of the oblong ball can be so cruel at times. The arm wrestle continues with the Crows kicking a couple of goals before Paul Stewart is subbed out with a serious wrist injury. Port answered with two quick goals. Another goal to the Crows midterm, more tight tough football and the Crows go to the quarter time break with a seven point lead.

The second quarter was all Port lead by a rampant half back performance by Chad Wingard. He racked up possession after possession and was damaging with nearly all of them.  In reasonably open football (unusual for a Showdown) Port kicked seven goals in the second term. Late in the quarter Port had a twenty one point lead and the supporter group’s resident optimist, Jeff, came up to me and said “We can’t lose it from here”. I promptly told him to sit down and not to say anything silly like that again.

With a twenty one point lead at halftime we were all feeling a bit more relaxed. However the start of third had us worried again. This time it was the Crows answer to Hayden Ballantyne, Jared Petrenko. Two quick goals to Petrenko and the Crows were back in it. The Crows revival was lead by Dangerfield and his young guns. Dangerfield had been shifted to the midfield and Crouch, Grigg, Brown, Johnston and Wright were all playing well. The Crows dominated the third quarter and by the final break were up by twelve points with seven more scoring shots. If not for Kane Cornes and Chad Wingard the damage would have been worse.

Other than the opening goal to Chad Wingard the final quarter had Crows playing the slightly better football. Boak was battling manfully and tried to lift the team by winning many clearances. However the Crows edged further and further ahead. When Grigg set up a Henderson shot for goal, which he slotted, the Crows were twenty points up with about six minutes to go. If not for the fact that I still had half a schooner of beer I probably would have walked out of the pub.

Whether the Crows stopped or Port took Henderson’s goal like a massive slap to the back of the head is still unknown. Port put their big name players, Boak, Hartlett and Gray, in the middle and pushed Wingard up forward. For some unknown reason Jacobs back taps the ball which leads to a Port clearance and a quick goal to Gray. A couple of minutes later Colquhoun passes to Wingard who kicks his fourth goal from forty five metres out. With two minutes to go the Crows crumb the ball from a marking contest in their defensive fifty and swing the ball to the grandstand side. The ball moves quickly to the half forward flank where Lewis Johnston gets the ball fifty metres out. Instead of passing short to Dangerfield all on his own in the forward pocket Johnston goes for goal, shanks it and the ball run out of bounds.

Now I’m not sure whether the Football Gods were making up for Robbie Gray’s goal line bounce in the opening minute of the game or whether peptides can make you kick the ball with off spin but something miraculous happened next. The ball was cleared from the Crows’ forward pocket to Trengove who kicked long to Monfries. Monfries went one way, then the other and rushed a long kick with his left foot. The ball landed near the behind post and then inextricably bounced at right angles and rolled through the goals. Port were suddenly within a kick of the most unlikely victory.

At the following centre bounce the ball is cleared by Boak again and Port manage to scrap it forward to the pocket where Monfries gets possession. Instead of going for goal Monfries kicks a high ball to a spot about twenty metres from goal. There was a pack of about eight players under the fall of the ball where Chad Wingard runs fifteen metres with the flight of the ball and takes a courageous mark. With the pressure of the whole season on his shoulders he goes back and kicks truly.

Chad Wingard was awarded the Showdown medal with daylight coming second. Chad has had an outstanding season. Port has had five wins by less than ten points this year and Chad has been instrumental in all of them. Without Chad, Port would probably have five or six wins and sitting in the bottom six.

Long live the Chad.

 

 

 

ADELAIDE                         3.2   5.6    12.10    15.13    (103)

PORT ADELAIDE              2.1   9.3    11.4      17.5       (107)

GOALS

Adelaide: Dangerfield 4, Johnston 4, Wright 2, Petrenko 2, Grigg, Brown, Henderson

Port Adelaide: Wingard 5, Hartlett 3, Gray 3, Schulz 2, Monfries 2, Butcher, Colquhoun

 

BEST

Adelaide: Crouch, Dangerfield, Wright, Mackay, Grigg, Johnston

Port Adelaide: Wingard, Boak, Hartlett, Gray, Schulz, Monfries

 

Umpires: Stewart, Ryan, Jeffery

 

Official crowd: 43,368

 

Our Votes: 3. Wingard (PA), 2. Boak (PA), 1. Crouch (PA)

 

Comments

  1. Great article. The tale of two Chads. It is great to beat the Crows.

  2. My early nomination for Title of the Year

  3. Richard Naco says:

    This was one of the best games of the season, and your report certainly did it justice (all the more so for the intro about Cornes, G).

    I was a mad Glenelg fan back in the 70s, so Graham Cornes was always one of my heroes. And after GWS won their first game last year, Pamela & I had our happy snappy taken with The Chad (Mk I). So there is a fair degree of resonance for me flowing throughout your tale. The name Cornes will always hold a special place in this old Bay fan’s heart.

    Wingard was enormous, and that bold brave manner in which he kicked the winning goal was the stuff of legends. The Chad (Mk I) was quite awesome, but The Chad (Mk II) has the word STAR written all over him.

  4. Kerry Smith says:

    Terrific write up Dan. A great read for a long time Power fan especially. I still can’t quite believe they won it. Have you heard the rumour that Chad 1 is coming back to the Power next year? In some kind of coaching / fitness role.
    Regards
    Kerry Smith

  5. Ben Footner says:

    Bloody Chad’s. Grrr.

  6. Harry Balzac says:

    Great article Dan, must have been a great atmosphere at the Royal Exhibition Hotel

  7. Dan Hansen says:

    Thanks Harry, if you’re ever in Sydney come along and join us at the Royal Exhibition Hotel. It’s at 86 Chalmers Street in Surry Hills near Central Station.

    The more the merrier.

  8. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Very Well written article Daniel

  9. As the great man said during the 2004 Grand Final, “the bounce of the ball can kill you some days”. My my, what a sweet, sweet victory. Go the Chad, of whatever variety!

  10. Basket case says:

    Love your work handbag

  11. Disgraced Former Premier says:

    The new Chad could be our first Brownlow winner in years to come. Remarkable season.

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