AFL Round 2 – Port Power v GWS Giants: Sometimes there are more important things than footy

 

By Peter Argent

Throw the clichés out with the bath water, football was not about winning and loss, this was more important than that.

The pre game tribute to fallen team mate John “J-Mac” McCarthy was a sombre reminder that just sometimes there are more important things than kicking around the “pig skin” in anger.

On the two big screens at AAMI Stadium, Power players including Justin Westhoff, Hamish Hartlett, Paul Stewart, new captain Travis Boak and Brad Ebert spoke emotionally about the man that arrived at the club at the end of 2011 and quickly won the hearts of his team mates with a radiant smile.

For those of us old enough to remember there were hints of the great EJ Ted Whitten final appearance at the MCG, when with his loyal son EJ junior by his side Mr. Football took his final “curtain call”.

Like Victoria did against the Croweaters that day, there was no way the AFL arm of the Port Adelaide Football Club was not going lose this contest.

From a parenting aspect, being in the front row, watching this contest with my nine year old son, Isaac, the message he hopefully received, and I spoke about on the way home, is the football world is a great community that supports each other, whether in good times or on tragic occasions like this.

To be fair to a Greater Western Sydney side they were competitive for two and a half quarters and certainly gave the Power a run for their money in the opening term.

Kicking towards the late Bob Hank or Port Adelaide end of Football Park, the Giants had the first two goals of the game through the Dylan Shiel and the “son of a preacher man”.

Let me digress here for a second.

Jonathan “Joffa” Giles, the 200cm ruckman from Kapunda is the son of Lutheran minister from Moonta, Ian Giles.

Like Australian 1950s test cricketer Johnny Martin was the selectors “Little Favourite”, so is Joffa one of mine.

For those of you into the “Dream Team” phenomenon, he was a must have in 2012 fantasy football season.

His journey is one of perseverance, self belief and finally affirmation he was good enough to play at the top level.

From a working class Light District township, just over an hour north of the city, Giles was plucked by Port Adelaide out of the Central District under 17s with the idea he’d replace Matthew Primus, without even playing senior football in 2006.

Not playing a senior game on the Power’s list, and after a pair of flags with the Bulldogs in the SANFL, he turned his back on his state league club, going to Sturt and winning a best and fairest, the PT Morton Medal in 2010.

Still after this and now regarded the best ruckman in any competition outside the AFL, Giles only rookie listed in 2010 by the 18th franchise. He then needed to play a season in the NEAFL before being elevated to the Giants senior list.

Back to the game.

Two goals down at quarter time, as expected Port arrested the ascendancy in the second quarter and handy couple of goal gap at the long interval.

During the third term Dandenong lad Lachie Whitfield in just his second game dragged the GWS boys back into the contest and gave them a sneaky outside chance of an upset victory.

Then a pair of aboriginal lads, Jake Neade, who could have been a jumps jockey the previous weekend’s Easter Country thoroughbred and jumps racing carnival at Oakbank in the Adelaide Hills, and Murray Bridge talent Chad Wingard, who still dreams of a NBA basketball career, sealed the contest with a mixture of precise team work and sublime skills.

There was also a tick for second game coach Ken Hinkley.

Finally a coach understands, after 111 games at this level, the best way to use best on ground Justin Westhoff, who was on that fateful September 2012 trip to America with J-Mac.

Having seen two generations of the Westhoff play, Justin, like his father “Rowdy” (Danny) is an old fashioned ruck rover, despite being 199cm tall.

Aerobically strong, having a good grasp of the nuances of the game and showing more than adequate skills, Westhoff, while looking laconic in movement is a match winning as this effort against the Giants showed.

After a couple of good wins, the Power is on the top of the ladder.

Still in Hinkleys’ initial year as senior coach another six to eight wins will be a strong achievement.

More game time is the critical component for many of the young Giants, but there are glimpses of momentum building and a strong combination forming.

Whitfield displayed signs he could be a high decorated player by the end of his tenure.  There was also a leap into the stratosphere by Liam Sumner that would have excited the most hardened purist in the opening term.

Finally and of little or any significance Port Adelaide also won its inaugural annual Transfield Services Shield which is awarded to the winner of the first game of the season between the two clubs.

 

 

Port Adelaide   2.5   8.9   12.17 19.20 (134)
GWS Giants      
4.4   6.5     8.9    11.12   (78)

GOALS
Port Adelaide: Westhoff 5, Wingard 3, Broadbent, Neade 2, Schulz, O’Shea, Boak, Hartlett, Stewart, Ebert, Mitchell
GWS Giants: Cameron 3, Shiel, Giles, Coniglio, Patton, Whitfield, Treloar, Brogan, Smith

Best

Port Adelaide: Westhoff, Wingard, Neade, Pittard, Stevenson, Cornes

GWS Giants: Whitfield, Ward, Shiel, Coniglio, Cameron, Treloar

Official crowd:

Our Votes:  3 votes – Justin Westhoff (PA), 2 votes – Chad Wingard (PA), 1 vote – Lachie Whitfield (GWS)

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