2015 was a failure for Port Adelaide. When you finish season 2014 by losing a Preliminary Final by less than a goal the expectation was Port Adelaide would be around the mark in season 2015. Especially when you look at all the vital key indicators. Port Adelaide still had an extremely young list, everything pointed towards a positive 2015. Port Adelaide finished in ninth position and missed the finals for the first time under Ken Hinkley. Was it simply not handling the pressure? Not working hard enough? Or was it the learning curve Port Adelaide needed to have?
Despite the doom and gloom there were still some positives in season 2015. Port Adelaide did manage to beat Hawthorn twice, as well as Preliminary finalist North Melbourne. So certainly Port Adelaide showed their best football is good enough to compete with the top clubs. Many individual players still had good years as well. Chad Wingard and Robbie Gray were selected in the All-Australian side, Travis Boak led admirably as captain and Paddy Ryder established himself clearly as the number one ruckman at the club. In the defensive half Jack Hombsch showed he is one of the best young defenders in the game. In the latter half of the season Sam Gray and Brendan Ah Chee showed they could be regular contributors at AFL level and Port Adelaide continued to get games into younger players such as Jarman Impey, Tom Clurey and Karl Amon amongst others.
But unfortunately the negatives are what Port Adelaide will be remembered for in 2015. Disastrous losses against Carlton and Brisbane would have massive consequences. It is still difficult to fathom how Port Adelaide lost these games. Injuries to Jared Polec and Ollie Wines robbed Port Adelaide of two of their most important players and many simply had poor seasons. Players such as Matthew Lobbe, Angus Monfries, Brad Ebert and Tom Jonas amongst others well down on their 2014 output and effectiveness. It potentially also highlighted the depth at Port Adelaide was not quite as strong as they may have believed.
Often it takes poor performance to analyse and facilitate change. Port Adelaide has certainly not accepted what happened in 2015 as an off year with the expectation things will automatically improve next year. The club has traded in Charlie Dixon and Jimmy Toumpas to the club. Nathan Bassett joins the club from Essendon as defensive coach, Garry Hocking relinquishes his role at SANFL level to work full time at AFL level. Favourite son Chad Cornes returns to the club as Port Adelaide SANFL coach. The club has not swept season 2015 under the carpet, the whole club has reviewed what went wrong and what needs to be done to get back to playing finals football. Did Port Adelaide get ahead of themselves for season 2015? Only the club knows the answer to that question, but the new motto at Port Adelaide “Staying in the now” is certainly apt, and a stark reminder to all at the club that they must keep their eye on the ball at all times to ensure success.
What is interesting is as bad as season 2015 was, Port Adelaide finished the year with twelve wins. This would have been enough to qualify for finals in five of the last seven years. I am sure Port Adelaide would have relished a repeat 2014 Elimination Final against Richmond in season 2015 at the MCG. It shows how tight the AFL competition is and it can be a very fine line between success and failure. Port Adelaide must make sure they learn the lessons from 2015. If they do then 2016 will be an exciting time to be supporting Port Adelaide.