Round 8 – Port Adelaide vs Richmond: A ticket for the long way round

Port Adelaide versus Richmond

4.10pm, Sunday 24th March

Adelaide Oval

By Cathryn McDonald


I realised it on a Monday evening at the cinema, during Pitch Perfect 2, as the Barden Bellas sat around a campfire singing about a ticket for the long way round and how you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone. By Thursday morning it was official. Kane Cornes’s Port Adelaide story was ending.

Kane’s seen a lot in his time. The climb to the top, the finals chokes, the premiership. The false dawn, 2007. The dark days, the miracle renaissance, right up until the moment we realised that the fairytale wasn’t real and we still had a long way to go. Without him. He’s leaving to become a fireman. Fourteen years on the Port Adelaide rollercoaster hasn’t dulled his selflessness, nor his perfectionism.

There’s no better way for him to end his career than today at the Portress, with 300 games next to his name on the scoreboard that’s carried the names of a century of sporting heroes. Against Richmond, a great modern rivalry built on mutual respect between two great fanbases (and a little bad blood between players). Given Port’s recent form, Not Giving In becomes a vulnerable acknowledgement of where we stand right now. Our “rockstar club” tag has evaporated like a puff of firework smoke, and the near-sellout crowd’s rendition of Never Tear Us Apart becomes the warm embrace of family and wrongs-turned-to-rights that it was meant to be. No matter what others say, we are doing right by Kane.

Ken Hinkley said a few weeks ago that we never get the same things wrong every week, but there’s always something wrong. It’s clear what’s wrong today from the first five minutes. The lackadaisical approach of our last home game has been replaced by panic. Patches of fast, slick play end all-too-often in a dumb turnover, or a missed shot. A few umpiring non-decisions put the crowd on edge, sapping morale. We go goalless in the first quarter.

In the second quarter Port come out to play, as Chad Wingard scores within the first minute. But AFL in 2015 is an inscrutable game, much more so from the outer. The stats on the big screen seem even, but they don’t reflect that all Richmond need to do to blow the game open is to get the ball to Riewoldt a couple of times. Port are kicking to the Riverbank end and the fans are winding up… until Chad and Schulzy both miss from 20m out. They’re our two most trustworthy big-moment goalkickers. On a day when Chad and Schulzy can miss those shots, all the stats in the world won’t help us. Richmond end up extending their lead by a goal.

The third quarter is all Port Adelaide. The players seem desperate to do it for Kane, intercepting and smothering every Richmond play. Richmond go scoreless and Port lock the ball inside their forward 50. But they’re shaky, panicking at every turn. Nothing is going right for us today. A quarter of domination, and a measly 1.4 to show for it. There’s this feeling that as Port get some composure, or even some luck, the dam will break.

The dam breaks in the other direction. Three minutes into the final quarter, Jack Riewoldt finds the ball in the goalsquare at the Hill end. An injured Jackson Trengove makes one last desperate attempt to stop him. He concedes a free, and the big screens can’t explain why. The margin is out to three goals and it feels like it’s over.

The fans stand to attention amid the sea of casual observers heading for the next train home. As A Sky Full of Stars plays, Kane gets one last standing ovation and disappears down the race. Just like that, our last premiership player is gone.

Much as this week – and the last few years – seemed like it, this isn’t the movies. Football doesn’t always follow a narrative, and it takes more than a montage and campfire singalong to relearn how to be a team. There is no fairytale for us, no silver bullet. We’ll make it to the top, but we’ll have to take the same route as Kane always did. The long way round.


PORT ADELAIDE                 0.3       3.6       4.10       5.12 (43)
RICHMOND                         3.4       7.5       7.5       11.10 (76)


Port Adelaide: Monfries, Wingard 2; R. Gray

Richmond: Riewoldt 4; Batchelor, Ellis, Deledio, Martin, Griffiths, Menadue, Edwards 


Port Adelaide: Hombsch, R. Gray, Cornes, Wingard

Richmond: Deledio, Riewoldt, Ellis

Umpires: Bannister, Hosking, Chamberlain

Crowd:  45,268

My votes: Deledio 3, Riewoldt 2, Cornes 1

About Cathryn McDonald

One-eyed Port Adelaide supporter, music geek and appreciator of the "match day experience".


  1. Peter Schumacher says

    Don’t know about making to the top, Port will be lucky to make the eight the way that they are traveling the moment,. Still, my crowd are going even worse.

Leave a Comment