Suns thrashing reflects Power failure and a team in disarray

By Sasha Lennon

There’s been a fair bit of talk since Sunday afternoon (mostly by Bombers fans) following Essendon’s record-breaking 139 point annihilation of the Gold Coast Suns at Etihad Stadium.

Some will say it’s a sign of how undeveloped the new northern franchise is.  Others will claim it’s a clear indication of just how good a side the Bombers, under new coach James Hird, are shaping up to be.

But I think what it really tells us is just how broken a football team Port Adelaide is.

Port had the dubious honour the week prior of being the first side to capitulate to Gary’s Gold Coast in what was a remarkable come-from-behind win by the ‘beachcombers’ (I just came up with that).

As a ‘southerner’ living in the Sunshine State, I was thrilled to see Gold Coast notch its first win so much sooner than expected.  The Brisbane Lions showed me a few years back just how important a successful local footy side is to the general level of interest in the code in this State.

But like many others, I was brought back Earth after witnessing Essendon’s mauling of the Suns.  At times it was painful to watch.  As Fox commentator Dwayne Russell aptly said, it was like watching wings being pulled off a fly.

So the Suns certainly have a long way to go.

But, given their thrilling win against the Power last week, it shows just how far the once mighty Port has fallen.

It wasn’t that long ago (2004) that Port won a flag and a few years after that (‘07), lost a Grand Final to one of the greatest sides of the past 25 years or more in Geelong.

When things started going pear-shaped at Alberton a season or two ago, the club’s hierarchy, the press and almost anyone interested pointed the finger squarely at then-coach Mark Williams.

Under constant pressure and hyped-up media speculation, Williams eventually resigned as coach midway through the 2010 season leaving the team in the hands of former captain Matthew Primus.

Fast-forward to Round 6, 2011 and on Saturday Port lost again, this time to North Melbourne by a whopping 10 goals.  Primus reckons its all part of being a team in ‘development phase’, a phrase I think is bandied about a little too often these days by under-performing clubs with youth on their side.

The stats show just how poorly the Power is performing.  After six rounds the club has one win (against cross-town rivals Adelaide) and five losses.  It sits 15th on the ladder.  It is ranked 13th in kicks per game, 16th in handballs and 15th in disposals.

In Round 7 Port Adelaide faces Hawthorn.  The Hawks are still a little hard to read but comparing the stats, I wouldn’t expect a Power resurgence this week.  The Hawks are sixth on the ladder, are ranked 5th in kicks per game, 2nd in handballs and 3rd in disposals.  In other words, compared to Port, they’re in another league.

Primus has reportedly said that the criticism Port is copping is something the club has to deal with until it delivers on its potential.

Well there’s certainly plenty of room for improvement, that’s for certain.  With four premiership points to its name, Port has a percentage of 70.83, the Suns being the only side with a lower percentage (44.53).

In a recent article former Carlton premiership player and footy statistician Ted Hopkins said once a team drops below the 70 per cent threshold, it is in a state of ‘disequilibrium’.

Hopkins explains that while any team within this territory is likely to be on a losing streak or at least losing more games than it is winning, occasionally from the disorder this creates, something clicks, “unlocking powerful forces”.

Well I reckon Port Adelaide will need the power of Thor if it’s to defeat the Hawks this week.

But that’s unlikely and after the final siren sounds at AAMI Stadium on Friday, Port will not only maintain its state of disequilibrium, it will fall further into a state of disarray.

Sasha Lennon is a Brisbane-based Knacker whose writing can be found at


  1. John Butler says

    Sasha, what’s really interesting is how a club formed from perhaps the most dominant in the land (Port Adelaide) has had such a patchy ride since entering the AFL.

    From a perspective outside SA, the footy politics of the state, aspects of social class, parochialism and personality all seem to have contributed to the general decline since 2007.

  2. Good piece Sasha. I appreciate your general lament, as you are presumably a Port supporter.

    I am reminded of Eccles (I think) in the Goons. When asked by Seagoon – “Eccles, what are you doing here?” the rambling Milliganesque loon replies “Everybody got to be somewhere”.

    Same in footy. One team is always premier and one wooden spooner. Has the premier improved or the competition deteriorated? Vice versa for the wooden spooner?

    Think about performance pay for teachers. Should the best 10% in each school get the bonus, or the best 10% across the country? Logic to me says the best 10% in the country – but there is no meaningful or reliable method of comparison. Think of the variables – differing resources; disciplines; student capacity; isolation; social, economic and parental advantage/disadvantage; reward improvement or absolute results? I love the concept, but struggle to see a fair and productive way of delivering it. Still Julia says she’ll do it in 3 years time when the bicky barrel is full again??**!! Is Eccles available for High Office?

    Back to footy – so the supporter’s life sucks for a while. Sometimes we just have to accept what we can’t live without or do anything about. Things change – the sun (or should that be Suns) eventually rises. Shit – I don’t punt anymore but I was sure my Eagles would be bottom 4 – or bottom 6 at best this year.

    Now I think they are realistic Top 8. Watch out Bombers – we are coming for you.

    Go figure.

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