AFL Round 1 – Melbourne vs Port Adelaide: The Power to Boo

Failure was the buzzword for both of these clubs for some time. Melbourne have struggled for relevance long before Jim Stynes began his battle with cancer, whilst Port have had nightmares related to the number 119 since they last scored an invite to ‘the big dance’. Most of the headlines either club has generated have been off the field, whether it has been the inability of Melbourne to convince their high profile media personality to lead them or Port finding a way to convince their equivalent that there is a life before during and after Brekky Central.

For me it was an agonising decision over which game to go to on Easter Sunday, something that I didn’t have 12 months before when there was only a single match in Melbourne. Figuring that it would be more difficult to gain access to the higher profile North Melbourne vs Collingwood battle across town later that afternoon, the decision was made to head to the Southern home of Australian sport to see a pair of clubs representing tradition in their own states (history in the case of Melbourne, success no matter how you spin their entry into the big time for Port).

Plus I was also keen to see some of the new talent on display that was getting rave reviews. For the home side there was a sense of familiarality with the son of a gun in Jack Viney, given that we at the Bulldogs have at least 3 on our list in the same boat (although some may say Mark Hunter was better on the punt than football given the drafting of his son Lachlan). There was the youngster who had grown amongst men in Jimmy Toumpas, whom thinking back to when I attended the draft on the Gold Coast last year got the warmest reception of any player picked. There was also a bevy of older players drafted in to add wisdom to some of the youngsters, although their impact on the day was as useful as mixing Diet Coke with Guinness. On the other side there was Ollie Wines who also looked as though he grew up amongst men, the young whipper snapper in Jake Neade who would have probably got a ride over the jumps at Oakbank if he wasn’t a good footballer (heck they were using female flat jockeys to ride in a hurdle on Saturday, nothing against that but interesting choice), and the Sandover Medallist from the previous season who in reality isn’t suited to being substitute….OK, I have him in Supercoach so I am biased.

The performances of Viney and Wines on their respective sides may have given a glimpse into the future, but where Viney was virtually a one man band with his support cast either blanketed or inept; Wines at least could have afforded to take a middle row seat as Port dominated throughout. Port’s dominance in the engine room was replicated in their front half, with their main recycled recruit in Angus “WantMonfriesWiththat” leading the charge both on the scoreboard with a trio of majors but also in the defensive pressure from their forward line. Jay Schulz upheld the honor for the old guard kicking goals and getting serious hang time irrespective of whether he marked it 15 metres from goal to the Punt Road End in the 1st term, or where they sold the pies in the Ponsford Stand in the 2nd (glad they paid it though, clubhouse leader in Mark of the Year by some distance). Their second year players in Hamish Hartlett and Chad Wingard were also showing signs that the often referred to syndrome of second year blues would not be mentioned in the short term, and Paul Stewart basically ruined my Supercoach score even further when he didn’t give Jack Watts a sniff.

I’m not sure if this is a cliché that has ever been used, but the Dees had more passengers on a mini bus than the Queensland State Labor Party, meaning more than 8 players were flops on the day. In trying to remember what some of their players did, recruit Cam Pedersen took one mark trying to channel David Tyree (difference being Pedersen used a post for a Round 1 mark, Tyree used his helmet to take almost the greatest Super Bowl catch ever) and not much else. David Rodan started like Asafa Powell at Stawell and finished like me after an 11km training run, Jordie McKenzie’s contribution was the first of a handful of bench infringements for 2013, Shannon Byrnes went missing, and even Mark Jamar was well beaten by young Port ruckman Matthew Lobbe. The list could go on for pages and could take me hours to describe.

The ultimate embarrassment came after the siren to conclude the Premiership Quarter. No there were no signs that either side would get close to September let alone the final Saturday of the season based on what I saw. But I cannot recall a crowd showing their displeasure for a teams’ performance as early as three quarters into a season at the ground. I’m sure that many, myself included, that have not been happy with how a team has played during the pre-season and has voiced their opinions throughout the social media spectrum. But given all the hopes and aspirations I have never heard a chorus of booing at such an early stage in the season ever. The answers can only be found in each and every player who could potentially wear a red and blue jumper, after all they have the power to win over the fans.

About Mick Jeffrey

32 Year Old, Bulldogs Member and tragic. Reserve Grade coach after over 225 combined senior/reserves appearances for Brothers AFC in AFL Capricornia. 11 time Marathon finisher, one time Ultra Marathon finisher and Comrades Marathon competitor 2017.


  1. Richard Naco says

    The booing at three quarter time was really savage and saddening, especially for Round 1!

    Shagga Byrnes is a lovely bloke, and despite being forever treasured at The Pivot, his move to the only older club was logical and understandable.

    But, tragically, the contrast between his what was and what is can only accentuate the fact that he has truly entered footballing hell.

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