Round 11 – Collingwood v Port Adelaide: From Little Things Big Things Grow, Misplaced Sentiment Lessons of Wet Weather Football and how to Disenfranchise 50,000 Foxtel Subscribers

 

Collingwood v Port Adelaide

June 5th, 2016

RD 11

MCG, Melbourne

 

At a drizzly and sparse MCG yesterday Port Adelaide’s 2016 season finally clicked into gear with their most solid team performance since 2014, dispatching the Magpies to the AFL equivalent of purgatory with some terrific football.

 

If a team is defined by its weakest link then Port Adelaide flew high yesterday with flying colours, for there were no weak links, no below par efforts. For the first two minutes Collingwood made the running. For the next 118 minutes Port dominated, and made Collingwood (they didn’t need much help) look not up to AFL standard. And let’s face it, they weren’t.

 

Throughout 2016 Port have struggled for consistency. They’ve played good quarters within games, but few four quarter efforts they’d be proud of. That changed yesterday, on the back of a solid win last week against Melbourne. It’s also the second time Port have managed to win two games in a row this year. And gives the side ample confidence to take into next weeks’ must-win battle with the Bulldogs in Adelaide.

 

Port out-coached Collingwood from the start. By placing an emphasis on small forwards and quick delivery in the wet conditions Port maximised their inside-50 efficiency. Charlie Dixon was like a beacon up forward, dragging opponents to him and getting the ball to ground. Once there, Jake Neade, Jarmen Impey, Chad Wingard and Aaron Young did the rest. They scored at will, as if continually playing with three extra men on the ground. It was terrific stuff, yet such a simple philosophy. Nothing fancy, no overuse of the ball; just a remarkable team-first attitude.

 

Port have been slowly building to this type of game for some weeks, perhaps all year. They are good enough to be sitting top four right now, but dropped games to Carlton and West Coast have cost them. Perhaps with yesterday’s effort there is finally a realisation that winning isn’t something to overcomplicate. And that wet weather or not, it’s basics that win football games. And perhaps no team in the AFL is as reliant as Port is on ‘team victories’, as opposed to three or four starring each week. When Port play like they did yesterday, they are near impossible to beat.

 

Defensively Port were again so well served by Matthew Broadbent, Jasper Pittard, Darcy Byrne-Jones and Hamish Hartlett coming through the centre. It’s Port’s defence this year that has progressed, added new players (either because of injury or form) and been re-born. Brad Ebert, Travis Boak (so maligned here so often this year) and Robbie Gray form a nucleus that as a threesome is as good as any in the AFL. Those three find angles during games that other teams don’t appreciate. Collingwood yesterday played like a side, injuries aside – every team has them, that needs a significant re-build, minus Travis Cloke and possibly their current coach Nathan Buckley. Great players, as Buckley surely was rarely make great coaches. And one of the reasons for that is the expectation that every player under your tutelage will be as good as you were. Few players at Collingwood would be good enough to tie Buckley’s bootlaces on a good day. Can Buckley understand why his players can’t do what he used to do? No, he can’t, and it’s obviously a source of some significant frustration. Cloke’s career is over, and probably has been all year. Whether it was deserved or not yesterday, the comment from the stands in the last quarter yesterday summed up the general feeling currently surrounding him; “Even your old man was a better player Cloke, and he was shit.”

 

And from a purely supporter point of view, yesterday’s game was one that filled the cockles with pride. Immense pride. Again, another first for season 2016. Port supporters at the match could walk away feeling genuinely proud and thrilled about the team’s performance. And there was a tangible sense of a supporter base utterly re-energised for the battles ahead leading into the second half of the season, a season as tight as any in living memory. From a purely black and white point of view, the opposite must be true. Not only did more than half of the Pies members not even bother to turn up at all for the game, weather aside, but many of those who did make the effort left early in the last quarter.

 

Is there now a case to be made for tarps being used at Collingwood games from now on when there is a crowd of less than 30,000 to cover up the countless bays of seats unoccupied throughout the Pies home ground? And weren’t they quiet. I’ve talked about myths in football before in these pages, and one of those myths was Richmond fans turning up win, lose or draw. That myth was busted some weeks ago. Perhaps the same could now apply to Collingwood’s fair weather supporters, who are a sentimental bunch on the best of days, always pining for the days of Rene Kink and Darren Milane, home games at Victoria Park and chucking docket rolls at the football. Maybe not so much a myth as a home truth; your side just isn’t up to AFL standard at the moment, and no amount of bluster, misplaced sentiment nor goal umpires wearing big white overcoats and bowler hats will change that.

 

Yesterday was Port’s day, and should be a cursory warning to the Bulldogs for next Saturday.

 

As a footnote to yesterday’s game, the great joy at watching such a great team effort was very slightly tempered by attempting to watch the Foxtel reply later on and having to get a Goon Show ensemble without the chaotic madness of Peter Sellers or the belly laughs of Spike Milligan. David King, who barely hides his irrational disdain for Port Adelaide needs to learn what the clubs’ nickname is; Dermott Brereton needs to learn that the true stars of football are out on the field, not in the commentary box, Sandy Roberts needs to hang up the microphone and with it the 1980s cliques and Eddie McGuire – oh, where do you start with Eddie… Mercifully replays of matches don’t contain the half-time debrief, as apparently Eddie’s was embarrassing. Foxtel’s commentary team yesterday was a disgrace; amateur, petty, condescending, bored, distracted, unprofessional and out of touch.

 

CHRIS MICHAELS

Comments

  1. Good stuff Chris, thanks, I am yet to watch the Channel 7 replay so will keep an eye and ear out. I think that loss to Carlton will haunt us all year, 17 points up and Polec goes unopposed for goal from 40 metres and misses. If he got that, game over about 6 minutes to play…. Agreed re David King, it has been obvious in his press comments for some time and it rather beats me why the media rush to him for comments on matters Port Adelaide, but perhaps that’s why. Wonder how Troy Chaplin is feeling now?

  2. Luke Reynolds says:

    Tarps covering the seats at Collingwood games. Ouch.

    Can’t remember our fans dropping off this much in the horror years of the late 1990’s.

    Port were good and had an ideal team for the conditions.

  3. chrism76 says:

    It was so evident so early in the game just how right Port got the conditions and how wrong Collingwoodgot them.

  4. Ross Hill says:

    Tarps over the seats.. You’ve been waiting to use that one for quite a while I think. FYI there have been 193,000 + more attend the Pies games this year than Port.. Who are you kidding.
    I agree the attendance from Sunday’s game was not up to expectation, however, please do not feed the Victorians more ammunition for us in SA to have the little mans syndrome!

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Side by side they bail together

  6. chrism76 says:

    Not really Ross. Just logic. Port’s crowds match up over the last two years or so against anyone in the AFL.
    193,000..seems like a lot..If you take Anzac Day out of that and one other blockbuster and they arent any different.

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