It does not matter what David Koch says in his position as Port Adelaide president. Some will always find fault when he makes public comment and that was exactly the case last Saturday night after the Power’s heartbreaking loss to West Coast.
I was present at the after match function in the Magarey room. The atmosphere was definitely one of shock among many of the Power faithful given the circumstances.
There were plenty of West Coast fans who were jovial and enjoying a celebratory drink after the game as you would expect. Conversely many Power fans were drowning their sorrows after the Power blew a golden opportunity to advance to a Semi Final.
Many pundits and some fans have questioned the validity and timing of the comments made to the gathered crowd and what effect this may have on the players and relationships within the club.
When a disappointed Koch addressed the audience no one seemed to bat an eyelid. Nothing said was particularly harsh or considered controversial at the time so it has been surprising to see some of the reaction since.
So what was said?
We have now had a few days removed from all the hysteria to analyse the tirade as some have called it. What did the channel 7 personality say that night and since that was so terrible to cause offence?
“We don’t want players who are living their dream just by playing AFL footy. We want players who want to win a premiership”
Have I missed something here? Wanting players to be successful and play in premierships. Of all the crazy things that tv man has said.
“If they’re not prepared to win a premiership for this club, we basically don’t want them. Let us know and we’ll trade them”
Is it the right forum to put players on notice? Probably not. But there is nothing wrong with the sentiment and no players or coaches were singled out for ridicule or abuse.
Many in attendance were happy to hear the mission statement “We exist to win Premierships” has not been forgotten.
"We played a young side tonight, jury's out whether we should have, but let me tell you, they learnt a bloody lot from tonight”
Was it the right time to discuss selection straight after a devastating loss? Who cares. It was certainly a discussion point with many in the Magarey room before David Koch made mention of it.
This has continued to be a discussion point since the game with many experts asking the exact same question.
“We blew it”
Playing at home and taking the lead in not only the last quarter but also in extra time. Playing the team that finished in 8th position with all the momentum and multiple opportunities to put the game away. Pretty hard to argue the Power did anything but blow it.
The harsh facts
Port Adelaide has not won a finals match for three years. The club has only played finals three times in the last decade. The 2004 Premiership t-shirts are beginning to fade as the last reminder the Power won an AFL premiership over a decade ago.
The harsh truth is that success has not been present at Alberton for a long time despite the wonderful history the club has.
The defeat to the Eagles was also the first time Port Adelaide had lost a finals match to a lower ranked finalist since 2003.
The after match function attended by many passionate Power fans was never going to be an appropriate time for Port administrators to offer congratulations and pat players and coaches on the back for a job well done. Strangely this seems to be what some people expected.
Would it have been better if David Koch said nothing that could be construed as controversial? Yes. But the media personality is someone who speaks his mind whether it positive, negative or indifferent. What you see is what you get and everyone knew this would be the case when Koch arrived at the club.
What a strange world we live in. The Chairman criticised for making mean comments. Port Adelaide lost a final that should have been won and end up with a 7th placed finish.
The day this constitutes success is the moment the Creed and the foundations the club are built on are destroyed.
The loss may be a learning curve that serves the playing squad well moving forward and time will tell. But celebrating finals appearances and not actually winning a final are standards of a mediocre football club.
Limiting the damage
Since the speech the Sunrise host has been forced to defend his comments. Koch has not retracted his words but has since praised the players for their efforts this season on multiple occasions.
“ I probably didn’t express how much I think we’ve come in the last 12 months and how proud I am of a playing group going from 11th to 5th. But I’m a firm believer that you need to have a bit of mongrel, you need to be ruthless to be elite and we’ve got to be ruthless. Being ruthless is that you’ve got to be in the game to play grand finals”
If for some reason the players do legitimately take offence to David Koch trying to set elite standards the best way to respond will be on-field next year and to improve on 2017. After all, Port Adelaide exists to win premierships.