Port Adelaide recruit Charlie Dixon equalled his best goal return in Port Adelaide colours kicking five goals as Port Adelaide defeated Melbourne by 45 points in Alice Springs. The result keeps Port Adelaide’s 2016 alive with a win/loss record of 5-5. What cannot be underestimated is the impact Charlie Dixon is having at his new club and Dixon has certainly become a fan favourite along the way.
Certainly the plans Port Adelaide had when they traded for Dixon has not followed script. Planning to have Dixon work in tandem with Jay Schulz went out the window when Schulz was injured in round 1 and Schulz has not played a game since. Port Adelaide would also have expected Paddy Ryder to spend some time forward this season but his suspension for the year has also scuppered that plan.
With the team playing inconsistent football it has seen Justin Westhoff spend a lot of time up the ground and in the back half. Dixon has often been the lone tall forward battling with minimal support inside the forward 50.
Some pundits did question Port Adelaide’s acquisition of Charlie Dixon during last year’s trade period. Not because there were question marks on Dixon’s talent, but giving up a first round pick for a player who has had injury issues in the past. Between 2011 and 2015 Dixon played a total of 65 games, an average of 13 games per season. Dixon also had knee surgery in the off-season which gave the doubters even more ammunition before a ball had been bounced in 2016.
Dixon’s preparation for round 1 was far from ideal as a result. Dixon only played half a NAB game against Richmond before the season opener. Despite only kicking one goal Dixon’s attack on the ball and the opposition had Ken Hinkley excited “The boys like him. We like him and there's a lot about Charlie to like. He played 'Port Adelaide' when he first came on the ground – bash, crash, 'get out of my way, if you get in my way I'm probably going to hurt you if I have to, but my teammates matter and whatever I have to do for them I'll do” This type of action on the field is what has endeared Dixon to the Port Adelaide faithful.
It is important to remember that a key reason Charlie Dixon wanted to move to Port Adelaide was his relationship with Ken Hinkley who was previously an assistant coach at Gold Coast. Dixon made mention on this when he made the move to Alberton "Sometimes you click with people and Kenny's got my number and he can push me and drive me to be better. He can hit you between the eyes when he needs to and I think that's what I need."
The tough love from Hinkley is obviously working so far. After 10 matches Dixon is ranked 7th in the league for total goals with 26. Dixon also ranked 10th for marks inside forward 50. For all the talk about Dixon being unable to stay fit he is also ranked 19th in the league for % of time on the ground. Maybe this says just as much about Gold Coast who are facing their own critics with injury management currently.
The good news for Port Adelaide is at 25 years of age Charlie Dixon should have his best football ahead of him. Justin Westhoff may have thought he was the unanimous bearded cult hero at Port Adelaide but Charlie Dixon might have just taken the crown.