The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 12 – Port Adelaide v Essendon: Aggression beats Hird’s final Football Park hurrah

The first printed edition of The Footy Almanac came out in 2007, before we had a website. In the absence of a real 2020 season, we will be publishing the 2007 pieces for the first time ever on Follow the season!



Port Adelaide versus Essendon

4.10pm, Sunday, June 17

AAMI Stadium, Adelaide



SOMETIMES FOOTBALL CROWDS SUCK. At the 10-minute mark of the second quarter, James Hird gained possession of the ball for the first time in the match. Under pressure and close to the boundary, he got boot to ball and watched his clearance land five rows back from the fence.


“You’re a rose petal, James Hird,” yelled some Port moron, to a titter of shameful applause.


Unless a miracle happens before September, this was Hird’s last appearance at Football Park. Local patrons over the past 20 years have seen some amazing visitors do some amazing things and have, as a mob, remained infuriatingly silent. Gary Ablett Snr regularly turned it on at this ground. He loved showing off deep in enemy territory. I still remember one occasion when he used the pack as a series of steps, touched the heavens and came down to earth with a snowball in his hands. As the pack was scattered left and right, the dull wit behind me called out loudly: “In the back!”


Hird is one of the greatest players of all time and possibly the greatest player in the modern era. He is Australian football’s perfect blend of natural skill, unquestionable courage and unshakeable determination. A delicate flower he is not. As a lean player, he has a mind like a rabbit trap; he understands movement like an aircraft controller; he connect parts in a moving machine like a bucket of grease. He attacks the ball and the pack in a sustained reckless manner, in a way that has often exposed himself to more danger than his opponent and, in consequence, has suffered some horrific injuries. His sweetness, his delicacy, is in the quality of his disposals. They are nearly always to an advantage, and sometimes take the opposition and the lucky receiver by equal surprise.


In this, his last year, he’s still worth three or four of some of those Port dandelions running around. Thus, in a ladder-determining game between Essendon and Port, the match-ups were always going to be important.


Essendon have constructed many of their close victories against the last year’s top four around the good form of its senior citizens: Hird, Lucas and Lloyd. Port began the year brilliantly with the two Burgoyne boys and the two Cornes boys at the core of their art, and a wave of newcomers playing as if their life depended upon it. As it does. Recently, with four losses on the trot, the cracks in the Port march have become wider than their feet.


On this day, Chad Cornes gave himself the job on Hird. This brilliant utility player, and Port’s best defender and sometimes their last hope in attack, forgot about his own game and clamped himself on Hird. Darryl Wakelin and Toby Thurstans looked after Lucas and Lloyd, swapping opponents occasionally in the way of modern footy, and every other Port player was given permission to run.


And run they did. Port attacked and, not surprisingly, everything fell their way. In the second minute, Warren Tredrea kicked a goal from 50 metres, an important first kick in his 200th game, given his relationship with the yips. Salopek, Surjan, Rodan, Kane Cornes, Cassisi and the Burgoynes burnt the turf, bringing newcomers Justin Westhoff and Robert Gray into the play. And they didn’t let up. Port scored seven goals to one in that first quarter, 6.4 in the second and 6.2 in the third, with bold, adventurous, lucky football.


Football is a simple game when it’s this easy. Move it forward quickly at all costs. It’s too simple for every match and often it’s too simple for all quarters.


Twelve goals up at the last break, Salopek was off with a broken ankle and Hird was, ominously, licking his fingers. Suddenly, from the first bounce, the Bombers won possession and they began to move forwards at all costs. They slammed on two goals in two minutes through Mark McVeigh and Damien Peverill. Thirty seconds later, Lucas missed a crucial set shot at goal, 40 metres out, no angle. If it had been three goals within three minutes, something big could have happened.


But only something little happened. Port looked awful – full on for three quarters and now, in the last quarter, full off. Were they tired? Bored? Did they think that they had already earned their pay? Who knows?


Not the coach. He was happy, he said, to win that game by six goals, but he didn’t look that happy. Port will need percentage to stay in the eight. Essendon rebounded strongly for six goals from 10 scoring opportunities in that last quarter to Port’s lousy two behinds.


In the end, it was a game that told us precious little about these two teams except, perhaps, that neither of them is the genuine article.




Port Adelaide  7.4 13.6 19.10 19.12 (126)

Essendon  1.3 5.8 7.13 13.17 (95)



Port Adelaide: Gray, Ebert, Tredrea 4, Westhoff 2, S. Burgoyne, C. Cornes, Rodan, White, Wilson.

Essendon: McVeigh, Peverill, Watson 2, Bolton, Heffernan, Laycock, Lloyd, Lucas, Nash, Welsh.



Port Adelaide: C. Cornes, Westhoff, Gray, Cassisi, P. Burgoyne, K. Cornes, Ebert.

Essendon: McPhee, J. Johnson, Nash, Peverill, Davey, Watson.



Tredrea (200 games).



Boak (Port Adelaide).



Grun, Wenn, Ellis.



Gray (PA) 3, C. Cornes (PA) 2, Westhoff (PA) 1.



Rodan (PA) 3, S. Burgoyne* (PA) 2, C. Cornes (PA) 1.






For more Round by Round reports of the 2007 season click HERE


Printed copies of The Footy Almanac 2007 can be purchased here.


2007 Footy Almanac

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