Friday 20 October 2017 / 02:24 PM

If Jesus Was The Greatest Resurrection…

If Jesus was the greatest resurrection of all time, the Port Adelaide Football Club must be a clear second.

With Carlton losing and Port winning the Showdown last weekend, the Power seem destined to play finals football for the first time since 2007.

While their road home is a tough one, they have the advantage of a clear two game break over the other sides and with Essendon’s future in deep limbo, it seems almost impossible for them to miss out on September action.

As a Crows fan, the last four days have been incredibly hard to bear as Port supporters come out of the woodwork to remind me of their achievements.

Yet I still have a lot of admiration for them and what they have achieved in less than 12 months.

To understand Port’s season, you have to understand how bad it got towards the end of 2012 after five miserable seasons.

At the end of 2007, the Port Adelaide Football Club was a juggernaut filled with arrogance and pride.

Port had a strong membership, a good management team (Greg Boulton and John James), and a passionate coach (Mark Williams) guiding a talented bunch of players.

 

Despite losing by a record margin in the 2007 Grand Final, the Power seemed to have a bright future.

Yet, it all seemed to go wrong after their humiliation at the hands of Geelong.

From a lofty second in 2007, Port from 2008-2012 finished 13th, 10th, 16th and 14th.

Port struggled with management departures (Chairman Greg Boulton and CEO John James), a burnt-out coach (Mark Williams), and the departure of club greats (Warren Tredrea, Chad Cornes, Peter Burgoyne).

Membership stagnated as crowds in the same period fell by over 8000 spectators, which embarrassed Port Adelaide into covering bays of seats at Footy Park in sponsored tarps to reduce the emptiness.

Add to that losses of $5 million per season and Port was a basket case.

Rock bottom came in Round 16 2012 when they became the first AFL club to lose to GWS and the first established club to be defeated by both expansion teams.

They sacked Matthew Primus after the game and was once again stranded at sea without a rudder; a laughing stock along with the Melbourne Football Club.

They also had to deal with the tragic death of John McCartney who fell to his death in Las Vegas while on a player’s trip.

This is when enough became enough and Port Adelaide got aggressive.

The club asked the AFL for help and received it along with a lot of tough love.

They fixed the front office by mixing passion with business acumen.

David Koch may not be everyone’s cup of tea as host of Sunrise, but he is a passionate Port Adelaide fan and a savvy man.

While people scoffed at his appointment as he lived in Sydney, it was the fact he lived there that made him successful as he brought new investment – while teaming up with Keith Thomas to build a positive unit.

With AFL’s money, they got the debt under control and brought in Alan Richardson and Ken Hinkley as the first outsiders to run the on-field team since Fos Williams.

Renault signed up to sponsor Port Adelaide while the embarrassing covers at Footy Park were removed to encourage fans to get back to the ground.

Additionally they drafted well, picking up Ollie Wines (#7) and getting Jake Neade in a trade with GWS.

While the future was bright, most pundits expected them to win between 8-10 games.

No one predicted what happened next.

After thrashing a deplorable Melbourne in round one, they proceeded to beat GWS, Adelaide, Gold Coast and West Coast to go 5-0 and sit second.

They then lost their next five and many expected them to fall away for the rest of the season.

But they managed to turn it around with wins against Sydney and Collingwood before their remarkable win in Showdown XXXVI all but sealed September action.

So where did it all go right?

For starters the players are flying and full of potential.

While a basket case financially, Port has always had talented youngsters in the dark times; such as Boak, Trengove, Ebert and Hartlett.

The problem was they could not get them all out on the park together due to injuries, but 2013 has proved just how great their drafting department has been over the last five years.

They also found guys like Wines, Neade and Wingard (who should be an All Australian) brimming with confidence and talent.

Ken Hinkley intrdouced a game plan that suits this group of players.

In a difference to the conservatism doctrine of Williams and Primus who seemed to not trust player instincts, Hinkley has given the players a licence to take the game on.

The game plan has flair and the fans have come back in numbers with the average attendance up 10,000 on last year.

Another bonus is their improved fitness.

Darren Burgess who has had success at Port Adelaide, the Socceroos and Liverpool FC, returned with a bang.

Port has been superior in its fitness to most side and has run down quality sides like West Coast, and Sydney and bitter rivals Adelaide twice (bastards!).

All were matches they should have never won based on skill but they won them with greater fitness and vast amounts of self belief.

Under ‘Burgo’, Port never looks out of a contest an always runs the game out no matter the score line.

The players and staff are galvanised, united and fit for the first time in nearly a decade. they have managed find solace a way out of the deepest hole in their 140 year history.

The Melbourne Football Club should take a close look at how passion, commitment and a united attitude can do so much to improve a football club.

To be honest, I should be pretty pissed off at Port Adelaide this season.

While the Crows have been poor and demoralising, Port Adelaide has been outstanding.

Angus Monfries’ Shane Warne impersonation deep in the final quarter of the Showdown also cost me two cartons of Crown Larger with one mate, plus one more carton to another.

But in a season where feel-good stories are at a premium in the wake of doping scandals in the AFL, NRL and Cycling, all fans should rejoice in their efforts.

Hinkley, Koch, Thomas, Richardson and the players have been extraordinary and deserve a standing ovation from the fans.

While I’ve jumped on the Richmond bandwagon – themselves a basket case until recently- for the finals, I hold a soft spot for the Power and their resurgence this season.

But please Lord, don’t let them go too deep into September; please keep your sons resurrection the most talked about and famous of all time.

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John Hunt

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