Round 9 – Melbourne v Port Adelaide: the spirit of Port’s Indigenous links continue to shine through in Alice Springs

Melbourne v Port Adelaide

May 30th, 2015


Traeger Park, Alice Springs


Port Adelaide Football Club has a long and successful history of developing and harnessing great Indigenous talent. From Fos Williams right through to little Jake Neade, Port’s Indigenous players have shone on the grandest stage of AFL football. Byron Pickett was a Norm Smith medallist in the 2004 premiership. Gavin Wanganeen a Brownlow medallist and AFL champion. Ross Agious a member of the 1980 premiership side that blitzed all before it. In more recent time’s names like Cockatoo-Collins, the Bond brothers, Fabian Francis, Danyle Pearce, man for the future Chad Wingard, Peter and Shaun Burgoyne and Paddy Ryder have all had an impact at Port. Some have moved on, some retired, but all have left an indelible mark.


What better place to celebrate AFL Indigenous Round than Alice Springs, where bare-footed kids with a footy and a glint in their eye can be seen on a daily basis. Football is the religion in the Northern Territory, and the outback is where you will find the Indigenous stars of tomorrow. They play unrestrained, the skills and pace are a joy to watch.


Port has picked up indigenous talent from across Australia, from Salisbury in the northern suburbs of Adelaide to the Mallee Park Football Club in Port Lincoln.


Wanganeen was a 16 year old when against Geelong in a trial game at Football Park in February 1990 he gave notice of what was to come. He ended that season in another Port Adelaide premiership team, and a one way plane ticket to Essendon.


Chad Wingard, a genuine star and now All-Australian barely watches AFL football, but on game day wearing the black, white and teal he burns for the two hours. He has more tricks that Dynamo.


Against Melbourne today Port had a number of indigenous players in their team, and while a slow start brought nerves of another underwhelming PAFC performance that has blighted the last 3 weeks for any Port fan, a different game emerged after quarter time.


Port, led so well by a cohesive and hard-working midfield unit stung the Demons after quarter time with a spirted, classy display of attacking football that said as much about Port’s heart as it did about their desire and skill. Three losses coming into today meant Port’s season has slipped to shambolic levels. Already with a stiff ask to make the top four, Port needed to set their sights on getting back on the winners list and advance back up the ladder leading up to the bye. The first brick in that wall was to defeat Melbourne today, and start their ascent. They did, and they did it with many individual goal kickers and a verve and spunk about them that has been missing for all bar three or four quarters all season. This was the game that could very well kick-start a stuttering campaign. Time will tell. There are hard games to come – Collingwood, Sydney and the Bulldogs are all challenges that need to be met front on. But, play as Port did today (granted against an improving but still struggling Dees side) and things may look up by bye time.


Port’s forward line was functioning at an acceptable level. The midfield supreme, and the defensive pressure led by the maligned but consistent performer Jasper Pittard was too strong and inventive for a Melbourne side that did little but play catch up football after the first 30 minutes.


Port fans can yet again smile again, at least for a week. They are far from their best, but, in AFL football funny things can happen. Sometimes one game, one good solid win can have a circuit breaker effect that propels a team. Today in Alice Springs, as Port celebrated the influence of so many great indigenous players at Alberton, Port may well have finally, and in-the-nick-of-time, found their spark.






  1. Hopefully Port are on the way back, at their best they are the best.

  2. Paul Buxton says

    Think you will find Fos Williams is not indigenous and Ross Agius did not have an “o” in his name.

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