AFL Round 21 – Port Adelaide v West Coast: The End Hunger/Hungry Jacks Cup

Port Adelaide versus West Coast

12:40 pm, Sunday, 19th August

Football Park, Adelaide

 

DAN HANSEN

 

I have a major dislike for the early Sunday starts. By the time you’ve slept in, lazed around watching Offsiders and finished breakfast you have to make tracks to see the game. I usually watch the game with the NSW Port Adelaide supporters group at the Royal Exhibition Hotel in Surry Hills, near Central Station. Colloquially known as the REH, they have provided the supporters group a venue for years, so that now all I have to do is swagger in and ask for the usual. Five years ago there would have been about thirty people turning up to watch the Port games, fifty for showdowns. Nowadays we are lucky to get ten.

 

As it is a nice sunny day I decide to catch the train so I can have a few beers whilst watching the game. It’s a tactic that makes watching the current Port Adelaide team far more palatable. It had been two weeks since I was last at the REH and that was for a pre-match talk by the Port Adelaide CEO Keith Thomas before the GWS game. Thomas gave us the usual “appease the angry horde” speech. Apparently the staff are doing everything they can to rebuild the club and the team, and we are going to hit Adelaide Oval running. The supporters have to be patient. He then said two memorable things. Firstly he said we would beat GWS and, secondly, Travis Boak would sign a new contract on Monday or Tuesday. By the following Tuesday we didn’t have the four points, we had no coach, no president and the only place Boak’s signature appeared was on the subscription form for the real estate section of the Geelong Advertiser. The GWS loss was just another day in the club’s long spiral into the abyss that started on that last day in September back in 2007. Every time I think we hit rock bottom our players bring out a newer and stronger diamond tipped drill bit and bore even deeper. The Earth’s molten core can’t be too far away.

 

As I was sitting on the train I was trying to work out where it all went wrong. What happened to the Port Adelaide I used to know? The club that won premiership after premiership in the SANFL. The club that attracted 35,000 people to a trial match against Geelong in early 1990. The only traditional non-Victorian club to earn the right to be elevated to the AFL. The club that in their early days in the AFL overcame setback after setback to win the 2004 premiership. Where was that club?

 

Crows supporters would be quick to tell you that the fault lies with our management, our marketing, the colour teal, the fact that we don’t have an angry bird or a furry animal as a mascot, the creed, 1870 and the bay covers. I blame our recruiting. In the good years of the early noughties the SANFL took all the money from the matchday takings and threw us a few peanuts. With these peanuts the only recruiters we could get were monkeys. Our last two recruiting managers came from a cricketing back ground. We now have a very diverse and potent bowling attack and we bat down to number nine. Just as we tried to leave the SANFL in the early nineties to join the AFL maybe we should try to leave the AFL and join the Big Bash league instead. We should be more competitive.

 

As I enter the REH shortly before the start of the game I notice there were only four of us. Nathan, the supporter group’s president, Alison, his better half, Adam, a young Royal Australian Navy crewman and myself. We started with the customary pre-game “if only” optimism. If only we can break even in the ruck. If only we win the contested ball. If only we tackle hard and hit targets. Half way through the second quarter we had been smashed in the ruck and contested possessions, were barely laying a tackle and our disposal by foot was as efficient as a Hummer H2 limousine that had last been tuned in 2007. We were 34 points down and goalless. By halftime the damage was 43 points.

 

Even Nathan, who is usually optimistic, realises this is another loss and the game is simply going to go through the motions. However Nathan likes a bet. If there were two flies walking up the wall he would bet on the one with a teal tinge, which would no doubt come second. He does point out that our third quarters are usually our best and then disappears into the sportsbet lounge. With twenty seconds to go in the third quarter we had outscored them by 13 points and Schulz was lining up from 35 metres out. Nathan leans forward as Schulz kicks the ball out on the full. He then pulls a betting ticket out of his pocket, slams it on the table and says “All you had to do was score a point”. I looked at his ticket. Ten dollars on Port to outscore West Coast by 14 points or more in the third quarter at $14.

 

At the end of the game there was no milling around, no post match analysis and no optimistic banter. We all said we’ll probably see you next week and headed off. On the way home I called the wife to let her know I was on my way. I asked her what she was doing and she said “I was watching another episode of Good Chef, Bad Chef”. I replied “Well I’ve just finished watching another episode of Good Team, Bad team and I think you spent your time more productively”.

 

 

 

Port Adelaide    0.5    1.7    4.10      6.14 (50)

West Coast        3.4    8.8    9.10    14.14 (98)

 

Goals

Port Adelaide: Schulz 2, Brett Ebert, Wingard, Westhoff, Pearce

West Coast: Darling 3, Naitanui 3, Masten 2, Hurn 2, Kerr, McGinnity, Hill, S. Selwood

 

Best

Port Adelaide: Pearce, Cornes, Broadbent, Westhoff, Brad Ebert, Trengove

West Coast: S Selwood, Priddis, Naitanui, Masten, Cox, Darling

 

Umpires: Leppard, Fila, Jeffery

 

Official crowd: 13,683 at AAMI Stadium

 

Votes

 

3 votes: Scott Selwood (WC)

2 votes: Jack Darling (WC)

1 vote: Justin Westhoff (PA)

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Entertaining as always Danny V Ironic how much Port have turned it around in 2013 iMind you it is important that you batted down to 9 and had a varied bowling attack
    I wonder how you would go in The Big Bash ?

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