I don’t like the scarf, Luke…


by Joseph Walker

Remember 2004? The year that Port won? Well, it was the first time two teams that weren’t Victoria-based went head-to-head in a Grand Final. Brisbane were set to win four in a row, an equal record, when Port, the minor Premiers of the past 2 seasons but the crumblers in September, just scraped into the Grand Final and smashed Brisbane, bringing the run to an end. Do you remember? I do.

It was the night before the Grand Final of 2004 when our cousin Luke from Adelaide arrived in Melbourne. Both mum and dad lived in Adelaide during their childhoods and moved to Melbourne in March 1993. Dad barracked for Sturt in the SANFL and when he moved to Melbourne he took a liking for St Kilda. I followed his lead and now I’m a die hard Saint.

Anyway, Luke came to our house bearing gifts. I was pretty excited, as any five-year-old would be. He pulled out 5 Port Adelaide scarves, one for each of us. There was an awkward moment for all 6 of us before my sister Claire remarked ‘Uhhh… We go for the Saints.’ Keep in mind we’d lost against the Power by a kick the week before, in the Preliminary Final. Luke seemed a bit shocked before replying ‘Well… I guess they could be your second team?’
We obliged, at least for Grand Final week.

The next moment I remember is Luke getting into dad’s car and driving off to the MCG, with his Port Adelaide scarf hanging out the window, flapping in the wind. He looked adamant that his team would win.

It was a close first half and Brisbane went into the break a solitairy point to the good. The Power ran away in the second half, eventually becoming 40-point winners. Pickett, Wanganeen and Burgoyne starred.

I regret this next moment. Port had just won their first flag. As Mark Williams pulled his tie high above his head, I, draped in my teal, black and white scarf (no matter what they were I liked to use the presents given to me) chanted ‘Port Adelaide won, Port Adelaide won!’ in a teasing manner.
In my defense I was happy for Luke as he celebrated at the game.

Alas, since then St Kilda have come devastatingly close to a premiership twice and Port have been smashed by many record margins in the 2007 Grand Final. Now the Power are the cellar dwellers of the competition and if it wasn’t for Gold Coast set to gain the wooden spoon. They’ve even lost to the Suns and most people pity them. St Kilda have dropped form but are still in the hunt for the eight if they can string a few together and not drop their bundle.

Let’s be honest. Power v Saints. This game didn’t promise much. The Saints were always going to win, right? The channel Seven commentators tried to make it as exciting as they could, asking the questions ‘will the win-loss ratio at AAMI get Port over the line?’ and also ‘can Riewoldt kick a bag of goals today?’ trying to turn the skeptics into believers but the former question was banished as we had 2 goals on the board in the first minute. The latter, though, lingered in everyone’s minds as Riewoldt kicked a goal before the first bounce and at quarter time had two goals to his name. I was a bit too excited and decided to check the live scores. I then noticed that the game on TV was being screened live. That right there is a first for channel Seven.

As I said, this game didn’t promise much and I’m not going to bore you with a goal-by-goal analysis. We raced away in the second and third quarters but the fourth was even as the Power got a couple of goals back. Chad Cornes looked ominous whenever he got the ball but seemed to be more excited in starting fights. There were a few throughout the game and some players were burning inside even though it was a cold and wet day. Gamble and Riewoldt kicked four each and Milne bagged three but, as usual, was involved in every fight. We raced away to 56 point win and there were no injuries to speak of (for the Saints, anyway.)

Port will probably finish 16th if they can only hit form during derbies. They are a weak side with no real memorable players in the team anymore. A reinvented list isn’t working and injuries weigh them down. There are, most likely, some bad (and possibly worse) times to come for the Port Adelaide Power.

Luke now lives in London, a city where AFL is unheard of but soccer rules supreme. We haven’t seen him since September 2009 when we went on a holiday to Europe and met him there. A week later the family and I watched in horror in a Parisian bar as Chapman scored that ever-famous goal. Sad memories linger, but probably less sour than Luke’s memories of 2007 and the years afterward. And I still have that scarf, sitting in my wardrobe, unlikely to be worn again.

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