AFL Round 8 – Port Adelaide v Fremantle: Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut Beat Age and Guile



It was a big weekend of football, to paraphrase the old campaigner.

It started with a Friday night sojourn to Olympic Stadium to watch the unveiling of the Buddy-Goodes-Tippett show. At quarter time I was thinking to myself “Shit, what have we allowed them to create”. Tippett was marking everything, Buddy was peppering the goals and Goodes had set up a goal which only a class player could. The Swans should have been seven or eight goals up and the game should have been effectively over. By three quarter time my sense of fear had dissipated as Franklin had seven behinds to his name, Tippett had gone missing and Goodes was wearing the red vest. Buddy kicked two important goals at the start of the last quarter but in the end it was the Swans small brigade who played well up forward and delivered them the victory. Hannebery, McVeigh, Kieren Jack, Parker and Kennedy were the ones who got them over the line.


The next day was all planned out. I was to go the Sydney Uni past player’s day to play in the “Old Boys” game at 10:30am, get to the Royal Exhibition Hotel by 1:30pm to watch the MUA Cup with the NSW Port Adelaide Supporters Group and then be home for dinner. Unfortunately the best laid plans of mice and past footballers often go awry. At about 7 I get a call from my wife asking if I’m on the train yet. Oops, I should have been but unfortunately I was still at the Grandstand Bar at Sydney Uni. I had missed the live telecast of the Port Adelaide-Fremantle game, preferring to regale myself in stories of past glories with my former team mates. Straight after the “Old Boys” game we were all talking about the pains in our calves and hamstrings. Five hours later we were embellishing each other with lines like “Do you remember the time I kicked a ninety metre left foot drop kick from the wing which sailed through the goals at post height”. Just like Andy Roddick rising up the ATP rankings after retirement we also had improved in our post playing days.

On the train home I passed the time by reading stuff on my phone. On Facebook I stumbled across a picture of my brother, Tonny, and his family taken in their backyard just before heading off to Adelaide Oval. His father-in-law was from Fremantle and his wife, Jody, stayed true to her heritage and became a Fremantle supporter. My brother managed to indoctrinate their daughter, Tayla, to the virtues of being a Port Adelaide supporter. However their son, Aaron, who grew up a stone’s throw from Alberton Oval, played juniors for Port Districts and even went to Alberton Primary School, had joined his mother on the dark side.  St. Francis Xavier once said “Give me the child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man”. Likewise they say the impressionable age for a child picking a football team is from seven to twelve. Unfortunately for my brother Port Adelaide was little better than shit warmed up when Aaron was in this age bracket and one of his favourite players, Aaron Sandilands was delivering us the man.


I arrived home just in time to have dinner two hours late and sat down to watch the replay of the Port-Freo game. Whilst watching the game I noticed an uncanny resemblance to the Old Boys game I had played nine hours earlier, except our game had a little less skill, pace and a complete lack of defensive structure. The Old Boys game is played after the reserves and before the first grade and consist of two twenty minute halves. This is long enough to let you know why you used to love playing the game and also long enough to remind you why you retired. The teams pick themselves and somehow I ended up on the Red team with the guys who retired in the late nineties and early noughties. While the other team, the Blue team, had guys who had all recently retired. There were about fourteen on each team leaving plenty of room to lurk on the wings.


In both the Old Boys and the Port-Freo games it was the younger team started with all the running but as the first half drew to a close age and guile took over and by half time the older teams had a well-earned lead. The early part of the second half was an even affair with neither team taking control. Then, in the Old Boys game, a couple of guys on the younger team went off with slight niggles and the umpire asked one of us older guys on the Red team to turn their jumper inside out and play for the younger team. Sensing an impending slowdown in the Red team I was quick to join the younger team. This is akin to Matthew Pavlich putting on a Port Adelaide jumper at three quarter time. It’s not like I am a gun centre half forward, nor do I have a huge schnoz but I was the oldest guy on the team.


The last quarter of both games had the younger team doing all the running to take out the game with relative ease. Port Adelaide had pulled off a ninety one point turn-around on the last time the two teams met and both games ended up with the younger side winning by about three goals. Before leaving in the morning I was questioning the wisdom of someone in their late forties pulling on the boots again. Just like Domenic Cassisi I only picked up two kicks for the day, and one of them was an absolute shank. On top of that I also had my right archilles tendon tighten up and have been hobbling around like an octogenarian for a week. However shortly after changing sides I took an intercept mark on the half back flank and kicked a lace out pass to a team mate on the half forward flank. Two kicks later the ball was flying through the goal posts and the momentum change had started and remained unabated. This made it all worth it. Now all I have to do is relay this story to my nephew Aaron and convince him that jumping on a younger team’s bandwagon is a good idea … and the natural choice for him is Port Adelaide.




PORT ADELAIDE                                2.4          4.8          8.10        13.16     (94)

FREMANTLE                       1.3          6.6          9.9          11.10     (76)



Port Adelaide: Wingard 5, Mitchell, White 2, Schulz, Wines, Young, Pittard

Fremantle: Clarke 3, Suban, Fyfe 2, de Boer, Pavlich, Hill, Mayne



Port Adelaide: Wingard, Gray, Mitchell, Ebert, Wines, Trengove

Fremantle: Fyfe, Mundy, Sandilands, Mzungu, Barlow, Neale


Umpires: Rosebury, Kamolins, Harris


Official crowd: 38,234 at Adelaide Oval


Our Votes: 3 Wingard (PA), 2 Gray (PA), 1 Fyfe (GWS)



  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Enjoyable read Danny and the Sydney Uni grandstand bar is a hard place to leave nothing better than past players day ( I still owe you re 86 Premiership reunion re the stairs in Adelaide )Ports pace continues to trouble all opposition , they are a genuine flag chance

  2. Hi DV,

    From one “Hard Man” in Football to another, I’m not too proud to admit that every time we (Port) beat a “good” Team, I get all misty eyed ;-)


  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Love the Andy Roddick line. 14 a side sounds like leaving far too much space for retired players. 28 a side might save some of those calves and hamstrings! Great read Dan.

  4. Nice write up. The Power are a force to be reckoned with as are the Swannies. Could be another all interstate GF.

  5. Nice yarn Dan. I’ll take the section in which you pull on the boots, and, er, have a less than glorious time as a cautionary tale. This will ensure I continue to not pull on the boots! Be careful with the two hours late for dinner form! I caught the final quarter on tele here in Singapore and Port made a mess of Freo. They’re looking good.

  6. Wren Thomas says

    Its was a good game in the end – my first at the new Adelaide Oval. Except for the $20 spent on not much food! I attended with a former work colleague – one of my very few Power friends. But Cathy and I always have a good catch-up, chat and a laugh.
    Rulebook – cannot believe you said something nice about the Power last time we caught up – first time for everything!

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