50. SHOWDOWN 43 – BANNER TALES
Port Adelaide’s first Showdown banner in 1997 – until club chief executive Brian Cunningham overruled the cheer squad (and chief Crows agitator Barry Curtin) – was to have asked the Adelaide fans: “Which SANFL club did you abandon to barrack for the Crows?”
By 2017, they were more brazen at Alberton — particularly after reports of the Crows complaining of the noise from the West Adelaide SANFL cheer squad that used the fence at the northern end of Richmond Oval as a drum set to salute its team for scoring a goal. The Port Adelaide banner was loaded with barbs about Chardonnay, knitting needles, rule books, apricot slice and banging on fences. The Crows won the derby …
You won’t hear me mention it much, but in 1997 – the year Port entered the AFL — Adelaide won the Grand Final.
Now while that fact alone is intrinsically splendid, the proverbial cherry on top was one deliciously bloody-minded supporter who turned up at the MCG with a large banner that read: “Port: Wish you were here?”
Yep – Port hadn’t even made the finals, and we were still trolling them as we watched our team make history. Even before we knew what trolling was.
I think this says a lot about the intrastate rivalry: even in our finest hour, we couldn’t let it go.
(Also, God bless that bloke.)
49. SHOWDOWN 4 – DOUBLE AGENT
Six players have crossed the great AFL divide between West Lakes and Alberton — Brett Chalmers and David Brown returned to their Port Adelaide roots while West Australians Ian Downsborough and Billy Frampton and South Australians Matthew Bode and Magarey Medallist Brad Symes moved to the Crows. The first player to play for both Port Adelaide and the Crows in the derby? Chalmers. After playing for Adelaide in the second derby of 1997, Chalmers defected to Port Adelaide in 1998 and played in just one more Showdown, the fourth. The first to cross the other way? Bode. After playing for Port Adelaide in three consecutive Showdowns across 1999-2000, Bode created history in the first derby of 2002 playing for the Crows in an eight-point loss at Football Park. He played in another six Showdowns against Port Adelaide, losing four of them.
You’ll notice that since the two Magpie mainstays who gravitated back to the Port once their team got its act together licence-wise, the traffic between West Lakes and Alberton has all been one-way.
There’s a reason for that (which rhymes with ‘vulture’) but far be it from me to point out the Power’s retention problem.
And besides, we did give them back Scott Hodges, they just never actually played him.
(Incidentally, it kinda shows how far we’ve come that Hodges was dropped for the final time after kicking five goals in two games: that’s the kind of return we can only dream of from most of our key forwards these days.)
Anyway, Matty Bode is clearly the standout of ex-Power players to don the tri-colours (I’m giving Billy time to usurp him — but not much). Just bet not to mention the player Port picked up with the draft pick we traded for him (hint, he played his 400th game a few weeks back).
Incidentally, that run of three eight-point losses to Port in the early-2000s stands as one of our most annoying Showdown losing streaks, but I suspect it will be overtaken by a new contender shortly.
48. SHOWDOWN 19 – TRUCK STOP
Adelaide eagerly ended Port Adelaide’s 2004 premiership defence in the 2005 AFL semi-finals, the only Showdown played in the major round. The match — that had been billed as the “Ultimate Showdown” — became the ultimate disappointment for those wanting to see the greatest derby of all time with the richest prize, a preliminary final booking.
Adelaide rewrote the record (that stood until 2017) for a Showdown winning margin with the 83-point win. Of the 18 goals scored by the Crows, none is more celebrated than the “Rutten 1, Tredrea 0” moment in the 14th minute of the third term. Adelaide full-back Ben “Truck” Rutten out-pointed Port Adelaide key forward Warren Tredrea with his fourth career goal while holding the Power premiership captain to one behind.
In our previous loss to Port, Choco Williams pulled a coaching masterstroke by moving Tredrea to the wing and forcing Rutten to follow him up the ground.
Proving that lightning doesn’t strike twice, he tried it again as Rutten again blanketed the Power spearhead — except this time it helped create one of the most satisfying goals a full-back has ever kicked.
My favourite memory of the game, however, was seeing an irate Port fan bundled out of Footy Park by security after the dawning realisation that there was to be no back-to-back flag all become a bit much for him.
Fortunately, when the 83-point Showdown margin was finally bettered, it was also by us — and by a mere point – in 2017.
Though to be fair to Port, they probably would have beaten us by more again in their Round Two mauling last year if it weren’t for the COVID-shortened quarters.
So that’s a shame.
47. SHOWDOWN 44 – YOU SILLY, CRAZY IDIOT
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley entered the first Showdown of Season 2018 having lost five consecutive derbies — and tiring of those keeping count, as noted with his finger gestures after Geelong recruit Steven Motlop kicked the winning goal late. Hinkley’s wife Donna was not impressed when he returned home from Adelaide Oval: “I think she used words like ‘silly, crazy and idiot’ but she understands too the emotions are crazy in the game we play and sometimes they’re out of control. Even for a coach I look back on that and think exactly that ‘what was I thinking?'”
“But that’s what footy does to you, that’s the emotion of the game. I just got wound up in it too much and I suppose at some stage you’re going to let that happen, and well that was the game for it to happen.”
I agree with Mrs Hinkley on this one.
46. SHOWDOWN 12 – HE GOT ME A GOOD ONE
If tensions were not already heavily strained across the short divide between the Crows’ West Lakes base and the nearby Port Adelaide headquarters at Alberton Oval after the second derby of 2002 ended with Power defender Darryl Wakelin needing surgery to mend a cheekbone broken by Crows captain Mark Bickley, the resulting tribunal hearing set off an explosion.
Bickley copped six matches and took his medicine. But the powder keg for future Showdowns was triggered by Crows forward Brett Burton’s testimony before Port Adelaide defender Brett Montgomery was banned for one game for striking. Burton told AFL investigations officer Rick Lewis: “He got me a good one.”
Port Adelaide coach Mark Williams responded: “We’re disappointed. Montgomery is out based on an Adelaide player’s evidence. But that’s the way they want to do it.”
There was a simple rule in footy in those days: what happens on the field stays on the field.
But there was naturally a caveat: unless you could somehow annoy Port. In which case it was fine.
Anyway, I understand this is all water under the bridge now and I’m sure if we asked Burton he’d tell us: “There are no lingering issues.”
So that’s good.
45. SHOWDOWN 36 – THE STARE
Showdowns are just as much about the mental games as the football.
Port Adelaide went to redeveloped Adelaide Oval for the first derby in the city in the autumn of 2014 determined to make Showdown 36 a “statement game” to match what became of Showdown 1, won by the Power at Football Park in April 1997. After Port Adelaide had spent so much of the build-up promoting its rich story on Adelaide Oval, captain Travis Boak went to the toss of the coin for choice of ends and, after winning the call and being subjected to a stare down by Crows skipper Rory Sloane, pointed to the northern end with greater gusto than William Light shows on the nearby Montefiore Hill. Port Adelaide opened with a five-goal term and closed with a 54-point win.
I have no memory of the coin toss whatsoever, and as far as I’m concerned it didn’t happen. But I’m glad Rucci is so happy about it.
In fact, about the only thing I remember of this game is that Adelaide actually hit the front late in the third, at which point I shot off to grab a round of drinks from the bar on the nearby hill.
By the time I came back with a loaded tray a few minutes later, we were somehow down by five goals.
Anyway, it was a good introduction to the bars at the new Adelaide Oval, with which I was to become increasingly familiar over the ensuing years.
The other incredibly noteworthy thing about this match was that it pre-empted the first-ever Touch Of The Fumbles column in InDaily. Historic.
44. SHOWDOWN 37 – WHITE ON
Matt White came from Richmond to Port Adelaide as a free agent after 104 AFL games, with speed in his legs and a penchant for kicking goals that had the fans jumping out of their seats. He scored the AFL “goal of the year” in 2014 (against his former Richmond teammates) and had another contender in the first term of Showdown 37. Reacting to Port Adelaide defender Jack Hombsch’s rebound kick from the back half of the field, White used his blistering pace to leave Brodie Smith and Brent Reilly in his wake while taking two bounces on a 50-metre run before scoring on the goal-line.
Matt White may sound like a popular shade of bathroom tile, but he sometimes played with a flair belying his plain, unpolished namesake.
We won this game, so I can forgive the fact he briefly made us look flat-footed.
43. SHOWDOWN 24 – DONUTS
What iconic South Australian product could be associated with the Showdown?
When local baker Balfours signed a three-year sponsorship agreement in 2008 before Showdown 24 many had hoped the Frog Cake would become the derby staple. Alas, Balfours developed the “Showdown Donut” that was sold in red for Crows fans and white for Port Adelaide supporters with blue, yellow, teal and black sprinkles to further distinguish the treats. There were baking Showdowns between the players in Rundle Mall… and that eternal question as to which donut tasted better?
Look, I have a confession to admit here.
The Port ones do taste better.
That thick red Crows icing was just too sickly sweet, while the Port ones sensibly made the plainer white icing ‘the hero of the dish’, as they say on Masterchef.
However, in general, the only acceptable ‘Showdown Donut’ is Port’s final quarter score in Round 19, 1997.
42. SHOWDOWN 1 – GODRA
Of the two big upsets in derbies — Port Adelaide in Showdown 1 and the Crows in Showdown 15 — there are two phenomenal goal-kicking performances on the losing teams that are repeatedly glossed over despite remaining records.
Legendary Crows key forward Tony “Godra” Modra kicked seven of Adelaide’s 11 goals in his team’s nine-point loss in the augural derby in 1997, the year he won the Coleman Medal as the league’s best goalkicker in home-and-away games.
Tredrea did similar with seven of Port Adelaide’s 13 goals in the 32-point loss in Showdown 15 in 2004 — when he finished the season as the AFL premiership captain.
I’d also give honourable mention here to Mark Stevens and his five behinds in the last of our run of eight-point losses in late 2002. He also nailed three goals (including one after the final siren, which wasn’t particularly useful by that point except to bring up our then-traditional final losing margin) but those five fluffed kicks kind of summed up Adelaide’s ‘so near yet so far’ vibe of the early millennium.
41. SHOWDOWNS 36 to 45 – SURE BETTS
From 2014 — when he arrived from Carlton as a free agent on a four-year, $2 million contract that was repaid again and again — Eddie Betts tormented a Power side that could never find a reassuring match-up for the specialist forward who was busy having Adelaide Oval pockets named in his honour.
From Showdown 36 to 45 (2014-2018), Betts scored goals in every derby — 35.18 in total, including five goals in each derby of 2016. Only in 2019, when he went without a goal in both Showdowns, did Port Adelaide not have nightmares with Betts.
When I think back on his halcyon days, the first thing I think of is that play-on goal-of-the-year from the boundary against GWS.
The second thing, though, is his five majestic majors in the second Showdown of 2016 in his 250th game.
He kicked our first and last of the match, both of them Eddie par excellence: a spoil, a shimmy through traffic and a toe-poke in mid-air to open our account and a ridiculous snap from the boundary-line to ice the game.
All of this should have been talked about for days thereafter but, sadly, in the aftermath all that was talked about was a Port supporter throwing a banana skin at him — and the way he stood up to condemn that act was as strong and forthright as any of his on-field heroics.
I miss Eddie.
Unfortunately, our year kinda went downhill after that game, but hey, it was good while it lasted!
The countdown continues next Thursday…
RAA proudly supports both Port and the Crows – and hopes that bringing you the Showdowns’ 50 greatest moments doesn’t cause too many arguments amongst family and friends.