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“We will never give up” A Port Adelaide catchphrase that should be put away while the club fails to live up to its values. The Port Adelaide players have done a lot of talking this year and maybe it is time to let performance do the talking. Many fans still recall the Port Adelaide marketing campaign “Live the Creed” which was thankfully short lived as it was difficult to convince fans you were living these values while getting thrashed on field most weeks.
Marketing slogans are something all clubs use. Port Adelaide rightfully should be extremely proud of their history and heritage. But the here and now is what counts the most and the best measure of performance is results. The current results with the messages the club continue to spruik is making the club look foolish in 2016.
All year we have heard the club talk about playing “Port Adelaide Football” The obvious question is what is Port Adelaide football? What does it mean? The club has not won a Premiership since 2004 and will miss finals for the second consecutive year. It will mean since Port Adelaide narrowly went down to Geelong by 119 points in the 2007 Grand Final the club has missed out on finals 7 of the last 9 seasons. Do these results represent what Port Adelaide Football is? If the previous 10 years’ worth of evidence is Port Adelaide Football then I think the supporters would prefer to play a different brand, ideally one that involves consistently winning games.
As we reflect on 2016, what has been the most disappointing loss of the season? Unfortunately there are plenty to consider:
Round 2: Adelaide Crows
Losing to arch-rival Adelaide is never a loss Power fans enjoy. Especially when that loss is by a margin of 58 points. Thankfully for Port Adelaide the Crows took the foot of the pedal to ensure the margin did not hit triple figures. The Crows dominated kicking 6 of the first 7 goals. Adelaide managed to blow the lead out to 10 goals only 10 minutes into the second quarter. The Crows forwards had a field day with Lynch, Jenkins and Betts combining for 15 goals. It was an awful day for Port Adelaide and they were effectively out of the contest 15 minutes into the match. Ken Hinkley was hopeful the performance was a one off when he said “We had a poor day, but we’ll bounce back”
Round 4: GWS
If Port Adelaide hoped round 2 was a one off they only had to wait a fortnight to see that it wasn’t. GWS absolutely embarrassed Port with an 86 point thrashing. Port Adelaide was never in the match and was already 10 goals down at halftime. Very few Power players contributed, emphasised by the fact 14 players had less than 20 touches and only 4 marks inside forward 50. Port Adelaide demonstrated why they were one of the worst teams in the league for disposal efficiency. It was the second time within three weeks the opposition kicked over 20 goals.
Round 8: Carlton
Carlton has certainly showed signs of improvement this year but when the Power faced the Blues in round 8 it was a match the Power should have won. The loss to Carlton in 2015 was one of the worst of the season and did contribute to Port Adelaide just missing the finals. It should have been all the motivation needed to ensure no repeat. Going into the game Carlton had won 2 games from 7 so Port was not facing a powerhouse. The match started poorly for Carlton as they lost Levi Casboult to injury early in the first quarter. Patrick Cripps and Matthew Kruezer also struggling with injury throughout the match.
When Port Adelaide opened up a 17 point lead midway through the last quarter then it should have been game over. But if any team can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory it is Port Adelaide. Port completely stopped letting the injury ravaged Blues run over the top to claim win number 3 of the season and an opportunity for the Power to move to 5-3 and set up their season was destroyed in the process.
Round 13: Fremantle
The stats leading into this match confirm just how disgraceful this performance was. Fremantle went into the game with a win/loss ratio of 2-10. The victory over the Power still remains the last win the Dockers have had this season. The match saw Port miss multiple easy shots at goal as they kicked 9.15 and again disposal efficiency of 66% was a major issue. The Power players simply did not work hard enough with 18 players failing to reach 20 disposals.
With Fremantle still ranked 16th on the ladder it remains the lowest ranked opposition Port has lost to this season.
Round 20: Sydney
The most disappointing aspect of this loss was that Port knew what was on the line. They had to win to keep finals qualification alive. Instead we saw a soft and insipid performance as Sydney ran out 67 point winners. Again, Port Adelaide was uncompetitive when the game was on the line. A scoreless first quarter tells you all you need to know. Port only kicked four goals and they were smashed in contested possession and clearances.
Port Adelaide did manage to have one victory during this game. The clanger count of 70 was the highest amount of turnovers for any AFL club for the round. Maybe some skills work can be done next pre-season in between the Olympic running training program the club appears to be implementing.
So where to for Port Adelaide in 2017? The simplistic conclusion is that Port will get some players back and everything will be fine. Certainly players such as Paddy Ryder and Jack Hombsch will significantly help. The importance of players such as Matt Lobbe, Tom Jonas, and Alipate Carlile is debatable given their lack of form in the last two years.
No doubt we will see squad changes, coaching changes and all operations of the club will be reviewed. But please don’t spin more tales to supporters that the team will be looking to get back to playing Port Adelaide football and we will never give up. Actions speak louder than words.