Top 50 Showdown Moments: Rooch vs Fumbles
40. SHOWDOWN 21 – THE BALL
It is generally accepted* that Showdowns mean more to Port Adelaide than the Crows (who have other deep-seated rivals in the AFL). And, at Alberton, no-one has a deeper dislike of the Crows than premiership defender and current team runner Chad Cornes (eldest son of inaugural Adelaide coach Graham Cornes). He pre-labelled the 2005 semi-final Showdown as his “dream final” (that became an 83-point nightmare). He once suggested if Port Adelaide could only win against one team in any year he would want it to be the Crows. And in August 2006 – while Port Adelaide broke its then-longest losing streak in derbies (four) with a 14-point win that damaged Adelaide’s pre-finals plans – Cornes enjoyed the moment most by taunting Crows fans in the Football Park terraces by showing them the ball late in the derby.
*By supporters of Port Adelaide, presumably.
Personally, there is no win I like more (or, more pertinently these days, no loss I like less) than against Port.
For context: I’ve spent the past week puzzling over the fixture to assess if there’s some way we can somehow beat them in Round 21 and still snag the
wooden spoon number one draft pick.
And the most convincing case I found this week for eschewing ATAGI advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine is that it’s apparently endorsed by governments in 119 countries. Well, I’m convinced!
Still, I can’t begrudge the genuine partisan hatred that resides within the Cornes households.
I still recall Graham being asked whether he’d barrack for Port ahead of (I think) the 2007 Grand Final, and he prevaricated – even though his two sons were playing in it!
He tried to explain to whoever was interviewing him that he’d spent his whole life hating Port Adelaide, but they didn’t really get it.
And that’s the beauty of the thing.
Moreover, at least one of his sons has managed to make a very successful career out of hating the Crows – and all power to him.
I read recently that Port have a sort of indoctrination period for new recruits where they have to live with Chad Cornes and get taught all about the club’s history (so, brainwashed, effectively) and made to understand why they must despise the Adelaide Football Club.
Frankly, I’m all for it and I wish we’d thought of it first.
39. SHOWDOWN 49 – THE SONG
Port Adelaide wants to take its traditional black-and-white SANFL guernsey (designed in 1902) to the AFL as its Showdown jumper to be worn in all derbies against Adelaide. This request was denied by AFL House in the lead-up to Showdown 49 that finished with Port Adelaide winning by 49 points after holding the Crows to just five goals for the third consecutive derby. In a move explained as a “show of respect” to its fans, the Port Adelaide players changed into the “bars” guernsey to sing the club song in victory. Former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire – who had repeatedly blocked Port Adelaide’s aspirations to make the jumper a regular part of its on-field look – described the moment as “a direct poke in the eye” at the AFL and league chief Gillon McLachlan.
It’s an undeniable fact that Port Adelaide complaining about wearing its heritage jumper is one of the more interesting and important debates in football, and they should definitely continue to advance it as often as possible.
And even if they don’t succeed, there could hardly be a more transgressive act of anti-authoritarian rebellion than not wearing a guernsey that you’ve been told not to wear, until after the game in which you’ve been told not to wear it – and then wearing it for a couple of minutes.
38. SHOWDOWN 48 – THE BARS
Port Adelaide had big plans for Season 2020, the club’s 150th anniversary. So much was cast aside by the changes forced with the COVID pandemic. But Port Adelaide kept home rights and its traditional black-and-white “bars” jumper for the only Showdown played in 2020 (when the usual routine of two derbies during the home-and-away season was scrapped to cram in a shorter season). With just 2240 fans allowed at Adelaide Oval, Port Adelaide held Adelaide to a record-low derby score of 5.5 (35) and rewrote its record winning margin against the Crows to 75 points while playing shortened quarters (16 rather than 20 minutes).
Look, this all sounds very bad, but there were a few positives.
Shorter quarters, for instance, which were about the only thing preventing this becoming an all-time Showdown blowout of 2007-Grand-Final-type proportions.
And the fact that hardly anyone was there to see it.
And… well, that’s about it.
37. SHOWDOWN 48 – THE MARK
Sadly, as a result of the COVID protocols that allowed just 2240 to fill the 53,500 seats at Adelaide Oval, the moment that usually makes fans rise to their feet in applause passed without a reaction from the terraces. Port Adelaide midfielder-forward Steven Motlop rose from the south-western pocket at the Oval to use Crows wingman Paul Seedsman as a platform to connect to Power half-back Hamish Hartlett high kick down the line. The chest mark taken on the way down from the leap was nominated for AFL “mark of the year” (that was ultimately won by Carlton midfielder Sam Walsh).
We’ve probably dwelled on this match for long enough now I think, Rooch.
36. SHOWDOWN 33 – THE MASTERCLASS
Sam Jacobs thrived on maximum minutes in ruck. He also has a point to prove to Port Adelaide coach Matthew Primus – a champion ruckman – for rejecting his advances to become a Power player while seeking a return to South Australia after an apprenticeship at Carlton in Melbourne. Compelled to stay in ruck after back-up Kurt Tippett took a head knock, Shaun McKernan fractured a cheekbone and Taylor Walker was in the stands serving a suspension, Jacobs finished Showdown 33 in 2012 with a derby record 61 hit-outs – and his first of three Showdown Medals as best afield in the derby.
This game was also notable for six goals to Ricky Henderson and two to debutant Tim McIntyre – who announced himself on the scene with a goal with his first kick in AFL football. And then never played again. Tough crowd.
In all seriousness, however, Sauce Jacobs was one of Adelaide’s great recruiting successes – the fact that he so enjoyed beating Port only underlines how well he belonged. The fact the club has ushered him back into the fold in an off-field marketing capacity helps make up for his unceremonious departure during the Great Exodus of 2019.
35. SHOWDOWN 19 – THE BUMP
Today, AFL football chief Steven Hocking would press for a tribunal ban of at least three matches (in line with his charge against Adelaide half-back David Mackay in the collision with St Kilda midfielder Hunter Clark in Cairns this season). At the time, many critics were forecasting a long break for Port Adelaide wingman Byron Pickett after his hip-and-shoulder bump – off the ball – left Crows ruckman Rhett Biglands concussed on the outer side of Football Park late in the second term of the semi-final Showdown of 2005. Crows players Simon Goodwin, Nathan Bock, Scott Thompson and Mark Ricciuto all took issue on the field with Pickett, but the three-man AFL match review panel decided there was no report to answer. It is a very different game today.
A different game indeed: not only was Biglands out cold, but Robert Walls on the commentary below then has a go at him for not being “a little bit smarter and knowing what was around him”.
One of the most stinging critiques of Byron Pickett’s style of play I recall came from then-Melbourne coach Neale Daniher after Port’s newest recruit had taken out a couple of his players during a spiteful match in early 2003.
A couple of years later, he recruited him.
Which probably says a bit: he’s a player you love to hate, until he’s on your team.
And either way, he’s got a hell of a highlights package.
34. SHOWDOWNS 29, 31 and 39 – THE CARETAKERS
Three times there have been “caretaker” coaches in Showdowns – and each time they have won: Matthew Primus (replacing Mark Williams in 2010); Mark Bickley (replacing Neil Craig in 2011); and Scott Camporeale (replacing the late Phil Walsh in 2015). The most emotional and dramatic “caretaker” derby was the three-point thriller won by the Crows at Adelaide Oval on July 19, 2015, while Camporeale was in his second game as interim coach after the murder of Walsh at his family home. Of the three caretaker coaches, only Primus had a Showdown win propel him to the full-time appointment as senior coach.
Look, the 2015 Showdown is in a category of its own, but Bickley’s first game as caretaker coach is one of the more surprising – and oft-overlooked – derby wins.
Craig was sent packing after a triple-figure loss to the Saints (in what was until a couple of weeks ago Adelaide’s lowest ever score), and the dual-premiership captain stepped in to helm a side boasting one win from their previous nine games.
One thing he did that Craig had refused to do for most of that time – immediately recalled a young upstart forward named ‘Tex’, who went on to kick four goals in the 32-point Showdown win. And then another four the following week in a narrow win against the Lions.
In fact, Bicks won three of the six games he coached – even if the final loss, by almost 100 against West Coast, was a genuine stinker.
33 – SHOWDOWNS 8-14 – THE STREAK
Unlike the first non-Victorian derby – the Western Derby between West Coast and Fremantle that began with West Coast winning the first nine battles in Perth – the Showdowns began with the derby trophy repeatedly travelling along West Lakes Boulevard rather than taking up residence in the trophy cabinet of either South Australian clubs. That changed from August 2000 to August 2003 when Port Adelaide win a record seven consecutive Showdowns by 47, 65, eight, eight, eight, 12 and 16 points for the Power to open up a 10-4 lead on the derby ledger… and develop a theme that if a Showdown became tight, it knew how to win while the Crows would doubt themselves.
It was almost a relief when we lost that first Showdown of 2003 – in which ageing Geelong recruit Ronnie Burns kicked three of our nine goals in his second game for the club – by a clear two goals.
At least it wasn’t eight points again.
For a while there, it was starting to feel like we were doomed to forever lose to the hated crosstown rival, twice a year, by eight points.
Still, the thing about losing streaks is that, however frustrating they are is equivalent to the exuberance when they’re finally broken.
Which we finally did, randomly, in 2004. But that’s a story for another time.
32 – SHOWDOWN 2 – THE PARTY
Peter Vardy holds the record for the most scores in a derby – 7.5 in Showdown 2 that began with both South Australian rivals in contention for final-eight berths and found the Crows needing to avenge the 11-point loss to Port Adelaide in the first battle for local bragging rights. They were singing “Let’s Party Vardy” around the terraces of Football Park when Vardy kicked his seventh to give Adelaide a seven-point win and command of top spot on the AFL ladder with a 12-7 win-loss record while Port Adelaide slipped from eighth to ninth after giving up a 29-point lead by not scoring in the last term of the rain-soaked derby.
In hindsight, I don’t begrudge Port that first Showdown (well, it would be a bit churlish to, since it was 24 years ago and we won the flag that season!). But primarily because it set the tone for what even many neutral supporters would consider the league’s most entertaining modern rivalry. As did this one, in the same season – which set the standard for the ensuing four years.
Four years, and eight games, in which the Showdown win-loss ledger remained balanced by season’s end.
And even now, all these years later, Port are still only one win ahead.
Possibly two come Round 21, admittedly.
We could probably use a Peter Vardy.
Hell, even a Lewis Johnston.
31 – SHOWDOWN 1 – THE BRAWL
When Showdowns hit landmark milestones, journeyman forward Scott Cummings and Crows premiership defender Rod Jameson know there will be a telephone call asking them to recall the moment from the first derby in 1997 when they put on their own showdown in the forward pocket at the southern end of Football Park. Strangely, for all the martial arts Jameson was practising off the field, he did not get one blow on Cummings’ big frame while the Power forward held off Jameson’s swaying arms. The tribunal still gave Jameson a three-game sentence – and insists the cameras did not catch all that happened in the incident reported by a boundary umpire.
What we really need more of in SA reportage is first-person narratives about the Ramsgate Hotel, that photo of the Bond brothers and this punch-up between Cummings and Jameson.
It’s a genuine gap in the market that should be addressed forthwith.
Anyway, no doubt Jameson cut as terrifying a figure for Cummings as he later would for prospective Crows board hopefuls who didn’t happen to have also played in a successful Grand Final for the club, albeit garnering only one kick before injury took its toll.
As it happened, both men involved in the famous Showdown scuffle went on to play significant roles in the Crows’ future – Jamo as a board member, and Cummings as the guy who kicked 14 of West Coast’s 29 goals against us in a 114-point drubbing in early 2000.
Catch the next 10 in InDaily next week.
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.
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