Round 11 – Port Adelaide v Geelong: Boris

Corey Enright and JTH

As I was packing my bags for my trip to Adelaide I had one of those moments of extreme doubt. As the scarf went in, the Cats PJs went in, the Cats tie went in, just in case I needed one for the Port show in the McLachlan Room, a wave of concern surged through me.

“I don’t think we can win this,” I thought to myself.

And then I started to wonder: how long since I’ve thought that? How long has it been since a team with Joel Selwood and Johnno and Kel and Hawk and Andrew Mackie and Harry and Tommy Lonergan and Stokesy have looked to be really up against it, their old legs likely to be tested by the brilliance of Port Adelaide. And Boris. How long since is it since I doubted a side with Corey Enright conducting the orchestra from the lectern of half-back?

Yet, such was my view of Port at that moment, and of our aging side, and knowing the open spaces of the Adelaide Oval, I thought we could quite easily get blown away here.

What was I thinking? Where was the faith?

The Cats came out humming. Blicavs and Stanley were jumping over the top of a must-be-ginger Matthew Lobbe, and then ran him off his feet. Both were outstanding. Blicavs had presence and leadership and was giving direction and taking responsibility. He’s novel. He’s like a new species in the animal kingdom found in the upper reaches of the Amazon, so unique there isn’t a name for it yet. What should we call his position? How should we describe his role? Or are Blicavs and Stanley merely the modern representation of Fred Fleiter and Roy Cazaly.

The mid-fielders were hard at the footy and even though Josh Caddy wasn’t so sure-handed, he had an impact on the game (three goals helped). Cam Guthrie didn’t shirk the issue at all and his burst during the third quarter was influential. Had the fend-and-accelerate shot been straighter it would have been in the mix for goal of the year. Harry Taylor marked everything. Tom Lonergan was solid. Hawk battled and, even though he couldn’t break free of Atipate Carlile, he brought the ball to the ground. Andrew Mackie looks sprightly again, likes he’s discovered prune juice. The skipper just kept putting his body on the line. Corey Gregson has poise for a tiny bloke, and was dangerous in the first half especially. And then there was C. Enright in his 299th game, the boy from the Eyre Peninsula, as South Aussie as a SAPSASA cap, racking up the touches and using the footy beautifully. The Cats got on top, and there was no coming back for a disappointing Port Adelaide.

The Cats defeated Port. Beat them. They were stronger. Used the ball better. And matched them for pace.

It was a great win.

One of those fist-pumping, glove-tapping, cork-popping, I’ll -call-the-rellies classics. Memorable.

One of those wins when all travelling fans become brothers and sisters, ready to embrace, ready to re-live the many highlights like kids coming out of a Disney movie.

One of those wins that, when spotting Corey Enright talking with relatives in the Gate 14 lounge at the Adelaide Airport on Saturday morning, you have no choice. You feel you have to say hello. You hesitate. You can’t do that to the poor bloke. Then something takes over and you are loitering, slightly nervously, and before you know it there’s been a handshake and you really are in a conversation with Boris. Your mate Boris. Whom you’ve never met but have known for a decade.

“Great win, last night,” I say.

“Yeah. Really good win,” says Boris

“You had a blinder,” I say. “Magnificent.”

Corey Enright smiles. It’s a modest smile. Maybe because he’s has had game upon game upon game just like it. Maybe because he’s just a ripping bloke.

I make some stupid remark about Cam Guthrie and the fend-off almost-goal. Then we talk about Corey being a Croweater and that I know his old English teacher from Kimba High School, Mickey Randall, who writes for the Footy Almanac. Which I try to explain.

And then it happens: I ask Corey Enright if he minds if I get a photo. I am a middle-aged man, (just) intelligent enough to get by, (just) balanced enough to remain in a state of holy matrimony, (just ) old enough to be his father, and I am asking Corey Enright for a photo.

“It’s for the kids,” I say (feebly). “Yes, the kids will love it.”

And after releasing my grip of his shoulder, I wish him all the best. Then I hide behind the Gate 15 divider and look at the photo. He’s pulled up like a pup. I have pulled up like a tired old bastard. But I cannot type fast enough to sms the photo home to Mum and the kids.

Our oldest is seven, the two girls a little younger. How will I explain Boris to them, in time? How Boris plays happy; with a smile. How he plays intelligent. How he has read the game so well for so long. How there is an area of the MCG that should be called Enright’s Paddock. How the modern game has suited him because smart players do well in it and he’s so skilful. How he is the best mopper-upper since Bruce Doull.

He’s such a player. A three-time premiership player. The boy from the Eyre Peninsula. Who was a fringe player for a while, when the club was working out who to keep and who to trade. But Bomber and co’s judgment was spot on. He was a keeper. And how glad we are for that (forever).

Corey Enright was probably best on the ground last Friday night which, considering the performance of a few other Catters (and Chad Wingard), is high praise

It was such a good night to be a Cats fan. Such a good night at the superb Adelaide Oval. Such a good night.

It was one of those wins that has us all looking to Boris’s 300th game, and beyond. We’ll celebrate with him this Sunday afternoon.

 

A version of this story appears in this week’s Inside Football.

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About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.

Comments

  1. Super stuff. Not getting a photo with Boris would be like not getting one if you met Vladimir Putin. I’m really jealous.

    Sadly I felt that Port were the bet of the round. Oh yee of little faith. Boris is my mate too. One of my best mates. But I’ve never met him. More power to you C. Enright.

  2. Peter Flynn says

    Looking in good nick J Harms.

    A very enjoyable evening well told.

    M Rucci’s match report in the Addy was hilarious.

    Wingard BOG. Umpires crucified Port. Anybody with SA lineage played well.

    C Enright no votes. WTF as they say.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Lucky you packed the selfie-stick, in club colours, JTH

  4. Neil Anderson says

    Terrific story showing how someone like yourself who is currently interviewing some of the greats of the game can be hesitant and awkward about approaching one of your heroes. Boris.
    Good to know you’re like the rest of us mere mortals.
    I had that same feeling when I saw Leon Cameron outside the Whitten Oval on match-day in the early nineties. Someone else was bending his ear so the old feeling of ‘ he doesn’t want to be bothered by anyone else’ and what will I say to him anyway’ flooded over me.
    I was living and working in the same district ( Caramut north of Warrnambool ) where Leon came from so I made my move to tell him.
    Of course he was polite and friendly as yet another fan approached him. No selfies in those days which wasn’t a bad thing as it saved me the embarrassment of being seen as a short-arsed middle-aged guy up against a very tall athlete in his twenties.

  5. JTH. One to frame and display proudly in the poolroom I reckon. Hero worship is allowed.

    What a champion Boris has been for the Cats. Took him quite a while to get a regular game early on as I recall. Talk about persistence paying off.

    How about the physique (Enright’s that is). That vein on his arm has got Martina Navratilova’s forearm and David Parkin’s neck covered, and that’s saying something.

    Looking forward to seeing Boris run around for the 300th time on Sunday. Hope he plays on next year. One of the all-time Geelong greats.

    Cheers, Burkie

  6. I love the story telling in your pieces John, even when I am indifferent to the topic. The yarning, like “a call the rellies” win. And you are right about the band of brothers (and sisters) quality of an unexpected interstate win. The win over Port Adelaide earlier this season was exactly the same for AE and I (and 500 of our “closest” friends for a night).
    I thought Enright looked gawn in the first few games, but he is like the old stayer that needs a few hit outs and getting out to a mile and a half, then he is set for the rest of the preparation.
    I watched this game on TV and Enright was BOG by a mile. MRucci – what the? Wingard is brilliant – but spasmodic even on a good night like this. Flashes in and out. Port have not had a forward structure all year, and that affects how they run the ball out of defence – always going wide to try hit midgets on the lead. A lot of their elite midfielders like Hartlett and Boak, who I really rate, are only going half pace.
    Any explanation for the Subiaco/Adelaide difference in the Cats? Were we that good? Port that bad? Or have you stepped it up a fair bit?

  7. Dave Brown says

    It’s been years since anyone’s taken the Rooch seriously, hasn’t it. When we can uncover his bunker deep under Alberton Oval, Adelaide’s sports journalism might be able to move forward.

    Love that camaraderie of happy strangers. Decidedly lacking amongst Crows people in Melbourne a couple of weeks back – a lucky escape rather than a good win. Compare that to Norwood’s premiership win last year. Brother Brown got hugged by a security guy at the airport because he had a Redlegs top on – an initially disconcerting experience…

  8. Skip of Skipton says

    I see Blicavs as a supernatural creature like the Bunyip or Yowie. Something you don’t believe in until you see one.

    “I saw a Blicavs today, Daddy”

    “You’ve read enough Dr. Seuss for one day, Missy!”

    Blicavs is a basketballer who is playing basketball under football conditions. Pendlebury is similar. Jim Stynes played 264 games of Gaelic Football for Melbourne. The Krakouer brothers and Adam Goodes marn-grooked it.

    Cheers and thanks to Corey Enright this weekend. I never saw it coming, then again I’m not the master Stephen Wells.

    I remember that skinny punk when he first came to Geelong and used to frequent the tote in Ryrie St. There was an old dame who worked there that used to fuss over him, in a grand-motherly way ( I hope). That’s the only reason we knew who he was.

    300 games? of pocket billiards perhaps. Unbelievable!

  9. In a serious world where all the shit made sense ballplayers would be sidling humbly up to writers at airports and asking for photos for their kids.
    On a more serious note, does anyone want to see my photo with Stevie Motlop?

  10. Loving this discussion.

    Skip, very funny. And I agree re C Enright. I suppose there was doubt about all those young blokes: Joel Corey, Jimmy Bartel, James Kelly, even G Ablett et al. It seems ridiculous to say that now. Testimony to the judgment of recruiters and coaches, and to the determination of the players themselves. Geelong of 2000-2015 is a terrific story.

    PB, as an average form analyst I’d say West Coast are many lengths better than Port and the Pies are somewhere in between. I think Port have more improvement in them the Pies. Pies struggled to cope with Geelong’s spread. Port looked worried about their own skills – no confidence.

  11. AJC

    Please send.

  12. “It’s for the kids…”

    Brilliant !!

  13. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great stuff JTH,you cat folk are privileged to have watched that whole group grow and play together and all the success you have had.On the defensive side of things to have had 2 of the all time greats in Enright and Scarlett and a more than capable support cast is incredible.While there will always be debate over which teams era was better etc as a non cats man they have been the most watchable.JTH on the man crush side of things having gone to the Norwood hall of fame night last night sitting next to M Aish and yes I did get a photo taken with the great man,John Wynnd I relate to that side of things as well.!

  14. Andrew Weiss says

    Great story once again John. Not to sure why you were nervous asking for the photo. I could not think of one AFL footy player that would knock back a request for a photo from one of their supporter wearing a white skivvy !!!

  15. Kiss of Death.

  16. Most appropriate to get a picture of Corey the champion from TGTOA & Kimba.
    Even better that you have shared it. Thxs JTH.
    Corey Enright has been a joy to watch.
    One of SA’s best exports along with Coopers Original Pale Ale.
    Bravo!

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