The Footy Almanac 2007 Week 3 Finals – Port Adelaide v North Melbourne: Pain, pain and more pain

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 Kangaroos

4pm, Saturday, September 22

AAMI Stadium, Adelaide



THERE WAS PLENTY OF EVIDENCE around the world in 1975 that the long Keynesian post-war boom was dying and that the political Right was about to re-assert its nastiness. The Anti-Marx, Maggie Thatcher, took over the Tories. Here in Australia, Gough killed off the laughable Snedden only to find the then loathsome Fraser arising in his place. By the end of that year, both antipodean Labor governments had been tipped out.


Despite the abundant omens, New Zealand’s foremost election expert could not conceive that Robert Muldoon was an electable alternative to Labor. After the Pigster’s rise to inglorious power, McKerras was challenged to clear the egg from his face. His response? “No, no – I’ve got nothing to apologise for. What I wrote was that I would be very surprised if Muldoon won. And I was right – I’m extremely surprised.”


And so to North. When the Big Saveloy defected to Philadelphia and then Nathan Thompson went down for the season in the NAB Cup, I predicted the Roos would end up in the AFL’s last four for 2007. And yes, so they have – just depends on how you define ‘last’, really. (Actually, I picked them to finish in the last one, but let’s not nitpick here.)


Having lost their first three matches, North did extremely well to win 14 of the remaining 19 and take fourth spot on the ladder. But, despite all the talk of Shinboner Spirit, they were as many games behind top team Geelong as they were ahead of twelfth-placed Essendon. Could it be that the talk of a close season and rising young teams has obscured the truth that one team has bolted and left the others to fight over the scraps?


Of course, in such one-sided seasons and a comp that allows half its number to play off for the flag, some poorly credentialled teams can go a long way if they click in September. Despite a significantly better percentage than the 2007 Roos, the Swans’ bottom line in 2006 was the same – and they fell just a kick short of successive flags. So far from the wobbles we all used to love so much, Collingwood have also made bricks from straw in recent seasons. They managed just 13 wins this year and also in 2002, when they almost tackled the Lions out of the prize on the coldest, wettest day of the season. Melbourne also made the 2000 Grand Final from 13 wins – only to find that someone had to turn up for a thrashing by the Bombers. For all these over-achievers, though, there is usually another team whose apparent progress deceived its fans; think of the Tigers in 1995 and 2001 or the Hawks in the latter year.


So, which way for North? With a bare quorum of fans in tow, the AFL’s least- loved club journeyed to Adelaide to take on one of its most disliked outfits.


In the face of a four-goal northerly, North started well. Harris, Rawlings and Simpson worked hard in the middle, and Grant goaled with his first two touches. When Aaron Edwards pushed off his opponent and ran into an open goal on 16 minutes, the Roos led by a point. Hold this challenge till the turnaround, then exploit the wind, and North could control the match by half-time.


The opposite happened. Within another seven minutes, a Firrito throw gave Motlop his second easy goal, and Pearce and Travis Boak were equally unchallenged to score. From just six shots at goal, Port maxed them all and restored their wind advantage before North could take its turn in the second. When it did come, the Roos didn’t seem to appreciate it. Harris and Sinclair dominated possession and territory, but after 12 minutes, North had just five points to show for their efforts.


The loss of Port backman Michael Wilson at this point to a ruptured Achilles tendon should have mattered, but it didn’t. With Corey Jones having recently joined Thompson in the stands, North needed Edwards and Petrie to convert the chances coming out of the centre. But Petrie was nowhere to be found, and Edwards twice got on the end of long handball chains, only to bomb golden scoring chances. Soon after, Port made their second forward entry against the wind; Ebert read the spillage off a goal square pack and screwed a major over his left shoulder. Rodan scooted away from a throw-in to add to North (and Richmond’s) pain, and then Roo-reject Motlop produced his Port signature: boundary-line mark 30 metres to the right, twist around the man on the mark and goal with a banana from 15 metres. So, ten shots each: 9.1 to 3.7 – comparisons odious in the extreme.


After these stomach punches, Laidley’s team inexplicably fell back into its defensive circle work of the first quarter. Petrie finally materialised, marking on North’s back flank, where Edwards was also now to be seen helping the clueless.


This might have constituted a response to the urgent call of Malcolm Blight, commentating on Ten, to swap key North forwards and defenders – but Laidley was mute, cradling his phone receiver like a security blanket. Sinclair was now pumping the ball to a forward line as open as Antarctica, and North’s last 15 minutes with the wind were scoreless. Port defenders Chaplin, Surjan and Wakelin went to the rooms with the stats of midfielders.


Trailing by five goals and facing the gale again, North now required the defence of Thermopylae, followed by the onrush of Operation Desert Storm. Within seven minutes, such romantic notions evaporated and the bridge collapsed for good. In that time, Port followed three misses with three hits and the ball only ever made it back to the centre for a bounce. Ebert conducted a two- minute clinic for North’s forwards with two set shots from the intersection of the arc and the right boundary that both curled home on the wind. Lions reject Tom Logan roosted home from outside fifty. Et cetera, et cetera…


But for a courageous chase and tackle by Glenn Archer, North became invisible. In the end, just nine of Port’s 124 marks were contested, and their runners felt free to take 55 bounces to North’s 18. The night before, Geelong and Collingwood had bounced the ball just 21 times in total.


By the 12-minute mark of the third, Port had added 6.3 to 0.0, a crowd wave swept the stadium and commentary box talk turned to Geelong v Port in the decider. With the contest now a dead duck, all subsequent on-field actions were subject to doubt.


After an anonymous first half, Tredrea landed three goals in 10 minutes. His bow after a running curler was interpreted by many as an insult to North, but it said more to me about the captain’s ambivalent relationship with Port’s supporters (and possibly also his team-mates). These fans should stay dubious till Tredders can pull off a streak like this when a match is up for grabs. The criticism of Chad Cornes’ knees-up goal celebration near three-quarter time seems equally misplaced. His team was through to a Grand Final, and he was playing up, Aka-style, to the home crowd. So what?


The last quarter began in darkness, proceeded without injury or report, and finished in oblivion, remembered only for a tragic-comic miss from 15 metres by Archer in what was now obviously the last of his 311 AFL games. Just another of North’s 16 points, to go with the six other shots out of bounds.


There was a silver lining. Five-year-old Jackson Archer was caught on camera booing the Port crowd, recalling his father’s intervention (on Collingwood’s behalf then) as an eight-year-old in the 1980 VFL night series final. And the Port crowd stayed after the siren to witness both teams lining up in a guard of honour to the Shinboner of the Century – an act of class above and beyond the capabilities of John Howard and his Cabinet, who had boycotted Kim Beazley’s farewell speech to Parliament two days earlier.


It was now up to Port fans to secure a ticket and make their way to Melbourne.



Port Adelaide                    6.0          9.3          17.10    20.13 (133)

North Melbourne              3.2           3.7           4.10        5.16 (46)



Port Adelaide: Ebert, Motlop, Tredrea 3, Logan, Rodan, Salopek 2, Boak, C. Cornes, K. Cornes, Pearce, Westhoff

North Melbourne: Grant 2, Edwards, Harris, Lower



Port Adelaide: Rodan, Ebert, Chaplin, S. Burgoyne, Cassisi, Pearce, Thurstans, Wakelin, C. Cornes, Logan, P. Burgoyne, Lade, Brogan

North Melbourne: Harris, Lower, Simpson, Watt, Harvey



Brogan (Port Adelaide) 100 games.



Vozzo, Rosebury, Kennedy.



Chaplin (PA) 3, Pearce (PA) 2, Logan (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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