Round 15 – Carlton v Port Adelaide: Port spoils 300 game milestone; remembering another

Carlton v Port Adelaide

1:45PM, Saturday June 30




Port Adelaide did what they needed to on Saturday against Carlton, but it was far from convincing. Playing two quarters against very good opposition will also not be enough as the season heads towards September finals action. On a wet and cold Saturday afternoon in front of a poor Carlton crowd, those brave souls thats did turn out helped mark a terrific milestone for Carlton’s Kade Simpson, playing game 300 and joining one of Port Adelaide’s finest exports Craig Bradley as a Blues 300 game player.



Bradley’s always been one to shy away from any media attention but did turn up for a photoshoot leading up to the game to help Simpson mark such a rare feat. Bradley started at Port Adelaide in the league side in 1981 and played in a premiership that year. It was just the start of a remarkable, brilliant career at both Port and Carlton. At the time he was just seventeen.



A love of cricket meant Bradley missed a part of the 1983 season as he was in England with youth Australian cricket team. While he never considered letting cricket become his main sport of choice, Bradley continued to play both. He represented South Australia and Victoria at Shield level and played grade cricket with both Port Adelaide and the Melbourne Cricket club until the early 1990s when it was clear AFL was changing and becoming more professional. He simply didn’t have the time for both anymore.



At Port Adelaide in the early ’80s he was unstoppable. A fitness freak long before time, he wouldn’t stop running all day – playing a pivotal midfield role as Port’s dominance that started the decade began to wane. That 1981 premiership would be his only at Port – if he had stayed and rejected the lure of the-then VFL he could have won eight or nine. Such was Bradley’s dominance at SANFL level that during his five season stint he won three Port Adelaide best and fairest awards, and finished runner-up in the Magarey Medal in 1985. He was a match winner, gun, and fantastically smart/polished player who gave Port so much drive. He reached 98 games at the end of the 1985 season (missing the two he needed to have his name permanently etched on a locket at Port) but his future lay in Victoria.



Bradley was joined by Stephen Kernahan and Peter Motley at Carlton for the start of the 1986 season and all three ex-South Australian stars made an immediate impact with a grand final spot against Hawthorn on offer at the end of the season. Carlton lost that game but made amends the year after in sweltering conditions at the MCG winning the flag he so craved at the highest level.



His stocks continued to rise. Reliable, a great reader of the game and an exceptional outside midfielder, Bradley dominated games and brought others into them. When Kernahan retired at the end of the 1997 season Bradley became captain and led with distinction until retiring himself at the end of 2002. He was 38. He could easily have kept playing.



Port and Carlton share a bond built on the mutual love, respect and admiration of Bradley and his feats both in South Australia and Victoria. A sure sign of Port’s respect for the man was that he was rarely if ever booed once Port entered the AFL and games against Carlton came around; unlike Buckley at Collingwood for example who was admired more than loved at Port.



Bradley could do anything. He was an exceptional footballer; a once in a generation player who defied age and the high-demands of two professional sports to excel at both, and then some. He was a joy to watch and an honour to say I was at games when Craig Bradley played.



Simpson as a footballer may not be in Bradley’s league, but 300 games is a tremendous effort, and luck more than anything meant he played his milestone game against Port Adelaide on Saturday and thus reminded all long-time Port Adelaide people of Bradley’s fine achievements and lasting memories over two decades and more ago.

Twitter – @chrismwriter


CARLTON                   5.0   6.2   8.7  10.9 (69)
PORT ADELAIDE        3.6   8.9   8.9  13.12 (90)

Carlton: C. Curnow 4, Murphy, Cripps, Pickett, Phillips, Dow, Kennedy
Port Adelaide: R. Gray 3, Westhoff 2, Marshall 2, Wingard 2, Thomas, Motlop, Dixon, Boak

Carlton: C. Curnow, Simpson, Cripps, Murphy, Rowe, Jones
Port Adelaide: Westhoff, Wingard, Rockliff, Powell-Pepper, Houston, Hombsch




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  1. george smith says

    In his seminal book “Life the Universe and Football” (1989) Hawthorn fan Jon Orchard mentions Craig Bradley in the same breath as john Elliott.
    “he receives.. (tautology)”

    He represents corporate Carlton. Like Motley, Kernahan, Dorotich, Naley, Dennis, Sartori and Madden he came to Carlton on top dollar when every other club was struggling with a salary cap. As well, his reputation as a seagull and umpires pet made him hated by all outside Showponyland. As for Port, Williams and Ebert were far better players in the centre.

    Your club did a bad bad thing and now they are paying for it. Poor administration can’t be overcome by
    throwing money at it any more, particularly when the Cardinals have new toys to play with, like GWS and Brisbane.

  2. chrism76 says

    Respectfully disagree totally.
    Bradley was a brilliant player at Port, and as good at Carlton.
    And I’m not a Carlton fan.

  3. Chris,
    I recall an excellent piece by Dwayne Russell (no, really), when he wrote articles for the Sunday Age many years ago. It was a tribute to Craig Bradley. He talked about how he and a large group of former Port Adelaide players would catch up in Adelaide every Christmas time, and over beers they would engage in endless debates over whom was the greatest ever Port Adelaide product. Until one year they realised that the debate was superfluous – there was just no argument any more because they all agreed one player was head and shoulders above all the rest.
    And as someone who has no love for Carlton, I also respectfully disagree with George: 375 games of AFL/VFL footy? Just that stat alone makes you a champion.

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