AFL Round 18 – Port Adelaide v Brisbane: Behind enemy lines

For me Port Adelaide has always been the enemy, right back to my childhood. As long as I can remember, I have been a supporter of the Norwood ‘Redlegs’ in the SANFL whose arch rival and enemy was the Port Adelaide ‘Magpies’. Each team used to hate each other with the same passion as what Carlton and Collingwood supporters do. It would not matter (well maybe a little bit) if Norwood did not win a game all year as long as they defeated Port.

When I decided to follow the Brisbane Lions (or Bears back then) as my AFL team there was no Port Power until 1997 when they became the 16th team in the AFL. It didn’t take long for the Power to become a fierce rival to the Lions. In the early 2000’s they were the two top teams in the competition with the games always being close and intense. The Lions quite often had the edge over the Power especially come finals time, winning three premierships but it was the Power that stopped the Lions winning 4 in a row when they defeated them in the 2004 Grand Final. It was in that grand final that players like Damien Hardwick and Byron Pickett (along with others) used their physicality to roughen up many of the Lions players and put them off their game.  Who could also not forget Alastair Lynch and Wakelin throwing haymakers and punches at each other in the goal square?

AAMI Stadium (or Football Park as it was previously known) has always been an interesting place to go for a Lions supporter. Every time I enter the stadium I know that I will be one of a few Lions supporters at the game which usually means that I am an easy target for any Power supporters ready to fire verbal grenades. Sometimes rather than a verbal spray, it was a meat pie grenade that would come my way. This occurred when attending a Brisbane/Power game in 2006. The Lions had comprehensively beaten the Power that day. As I was singing the song (not that loudly) with Guernsey on and scarf around my neck a Power supporter was walking towards me eating a meat pie. Before I knew it that same meat pie was heading towards me. Luckily I ducked in time with the meat pie just missing me and hitting a Power supporter behind me.

With this history I head to the battlefield of AAMI Stadium for the last time to see my Lions take on the Power as next year these battles will take place at the newly renovated Adelaide Oval. Today’s battle has a lot riding on it with both teams in form and fighting for a place in the battles every team wants to be a part of – finals.  It’s a classic ‘8 point game’ with a win to the Lions meaning their chances of finals action are still alive whilst a win to Port will mean they are one step closer to guaranteeing a finals spot.

Today I am going to the game with fellow Almanaker John Proeve and his brother Brian  who are both Power supporters. We will be sitting in the members’ area so it may not be as hostile for me as if I was in the outer. As I sit down in my seat I am surrounded by the enemy everywhere as the Powers crowd numbers have increased dramatically this year corresponding with Ports success on the field. I am a very easy target if the Power gets on top and there is no real place to take cover as there are only a few Lions supporters interspersed throughout the AAMI battlefield. Let’s hope General Voss has got his troops up and about else it will be a long day for me dodging the verbal grenades that will no doubt come my way.

Port has won the toss and is going with the breeze. Does this mean that there will be some long range firing by the Power and will the Lions be under siege from the start? The game starts and it is a real arm wrestle. Neither team is really getting any clear ball as the tackles are hard causing lots of mistakes with both hand and foot. Port gets the upper hand at the end of the quarter when Westoff scores a goal after the quarter time siren to have the Power up by 12 points.

The second quarter starts off like the first but finally with the help of Daniel Rich with three goal assists the Lions finally start to respond with some shots of their own and see themselves take the lead half way through the quarter. The natives (Power supporters) are getting restless and rather than throwing verbal grenades at me it is towards the umpires and their own players. Maybe I will escape with no hits today. Just like in warfare as one team fires the next fires back and that’s exactly what happens here with Wines and the erratic Butcher scoring goals within two minutes to give the Power a 10 point lead at half time.

During the half time break the three of us discuss who has had the upper hand in the battle so far, as well as other battles that are occurring in the AFL. Then the conversation turns to how well General Hinkley has gone with his Power troops this year and what I think will happen to General Voss. Will this be the game that puts pressure on his position again? I guess only time will tell.

The siren starts the battle again and the troops from each side are fighting as if their season depends on it. It is hard and tough with neither team wanting to give any ground. Port are firing shots more often but their shooting is wayward. The have the upper hand and have the Lions defending repeatedly but cannot fire that killer blow. Finally the Lions are able to gain some territory and find some space. Zorko fires a couple of long range shots successfully. The Lions hit the main target 5 times to the Power 3 to see the Power only have a four point lead when the battle is halted for the third time.

The first half of the last quarter is like trench warfare with neither team giving away ground. There are some hard hits but none better then when the leader of the Power, Captain Boack lays a powerful shepherd on 150th gamer Matt McGuire enabling Mitchell to send the footy deep into the Powers forward line.

It is deep in the last quarter and after another barrage that the Lions are able to defend ever reliable Corporal Merret has marked deep in the Powers forward line. He sees a Lions player and goes to kick, but stops quickly. Private Monfires has snuck up and placed himself in the 5 metre protection zone. I see the umpires arms go up thinking that a 50 metre penalty is going to be paid to Merrett for Monfires being too close but instead he signals ‘play on’. For once there are no verbal grenades fired at the umpire by the Power natives as Merrett is tackled. The ball spills free and even though the Lions defenders try valiantly Trooper Wingard kicks a goal to give the Power a 10 point lead. This is the defining moment that will determine who will win the battle at AAMI.

No matter what the Lions do the Power defend strongly to win this contest. All players from both teams are weary and are tired from this somewhat energy sapping battle. The Power players have smiles on their faces knowing that having won this battle they are back in the eight and getting closer to being in the finals. The Lions players look well and truly defeated knowing that when it comes to finals the white surrender flag is virtually up.

There is no singing the victory song in the enemy territory for me today. The Power natives are happy and therefore there are no verbal or meat pie grenades coming my way either. I get back to the car unscathed and as I drive home with John and Brian my thoughts have not change that Port are the arch enemy, but realise just like the Lions players that there will come another day to battle again and hopefully defeat this enemy.



PORT ADELAIDE   3.4    5.9     8.16     9.17 (71)
BRISBANE               1.4    4.5     9.6       9.8   (62)


Port Adelaide: Schulz 2, Moore, Mitchell, Wines, Westhoff, Butcher, Monfries, Windgard
Brisbane: Brown 2, Zorko 2, Bewick, Crisp, Green, Merrett, Moloney


Port Adelaide: Boak, Hartlett, Moore, Schulz, Mitchell, Broadbent
Brisbane: Rockliff, Leuenberger, Redden, Moloney, Golby, Adcock

Umpires: Margetts, Ryan and Schmitt

Crowd: 22,631

Our Votes: 3 Boak (Port) 2 Broadbent (Port) 1 Rockliff (Bris)

About Andrew Weiss

Andrew is one of the few Brisbane Lions supporters that lives in the Adelaide Hills. He still has bragging rights over any Crows or Port supporter by mentioning the back to back to back premierships the Lions achieved in 2001-2003. After playing for over a decade for the mighty Adelaide Lutheran Football Club better known as 'The Doggies' he now spends his Saturdays running around footy ovals as an umpire, getting abuse no matter what decision is made. Coaching is probably next on the agenda as his two sons have started to play the great game of AFL. Andrew is a sports fanatic who when not watching or reading about sport is teaching secondary students about Biology, Nutrition and Psychology.

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