Top 50 Showdown Moments: Rooch vs Fumbles
10. SHOWDOWN 45 – TIGHTEST OF ALL
Two Showdowns have been decided by three points, the tightest margin of all 49 derbies. Each of the three-point wins fell in Adelaide’s favour. While the 2015 victory is without controversy with the match result, Adelaide’s 2018 triumph will always be contested by Port Adelaide wishing there was snickometer technology to answer if Crows key forward Josh Jenkins’ high kick at the northern end did clip a goalpost in the 27th minute of the last term before the goal umpire and score review called the kick as the match-winning goal. Or perhaps they should have asked Jenkins who said after the match: “My grandma raised me not to tell fibs. I think it hit the post … but I’m pretty happy they didn’t think so.”
Ironically, calling her his ‘grandma’ was itself kind of a fib, since JJ was in fact referring to his foster mum Edith Casey, who entered Showdown folklore in one of the greatest post-match interviews of all time and undoubtedly the highlight of Jenkins’ soon-to-be-soured tenure with the club.
This was one of those moments where the cruel and spiteful universe finally makes sense.
Not unlike the time in ’05 that we blew our home qualifying final against St Kilda, and with it effectively our shot at that year’s flag – but then discovered that it was all part of the Footy Gods’ Divine Plan to see us knock Port out of the finals by a record 83 points.
This time round, we’d endured Motlop’s miracle goal snatching back the lead in the same year’s previous Showdown – only to win the re-match by under a goal and effectively cost Port a finals berth.
The fact the goal was contentious merely made their supporters’ tears ever more sweet.
9. SHOWDOWN 24 – THEY WON’T BREAK
Port Adelaide ruckman Dean Brogan was the wrecking ball in the most brutal and most enthralling Showdown of them all in June 2008. The Crows had four players take heavy hits – in particular defender Nathan Bassett from Matt Thomas and forward Luke Jericho from Brogan – while Showdown Medallist Bernie Vince rebounded from his heavy hit from Daniel Motlop. The Crows kept coming off the canvas to hit Port Adelaide on the scoreboard where its six-point win – after Port Adelaide scored the last three goals of the derby – put the Showdown ledger at 12-12.
I don’t want to get all ‘things were better back in my day’ here, but one of the defining aspects of this match was that it pre-dated the various modern iterations of the substitute rule, so the fact that Adelaide was reduced to zero interchange rotations – with four injured players on the bench – made it the archetypal ‘backs to the wall’ win.
The Crows dominated the first half of the final term, kicking a string of goals culminating in future Aaron Sandilands understudy Jonathon Griffin putting us 22 points ahead from 50m.
From there, however, the Power stepped up a gear – inching within six points in the dying minutes as a reeling Adelaide held on against the desperate tide.
SHOWDOWN 29 – POWER’S GREATEST UPSET
Port Adelaide was bust. It had lost nine games in a row and had parted company with its premiership coach, Mark Williams, midway through a disastrous 2010 season. Adelaide was on a four-game winning streak after starting the season with six consecutive losses. Former Port Adelaide captain Matthew Primus was on a fruitful audition to be Williams’ successor. The 19-point upset with Port Adelaide leading at every break gave Primus his first win as an AFL coach while premiership-winning midfielder Josh Carr completed the perfect 10 – 10 wins from 10 Showdowns.
Funny thing about the 2010 season: Port started way better than us, and were actually out to a 5-2 record after seven rounds, before falling in a hole.
Even in hindsight, it’s hard to tell what happened to the Crows after that 2009 season, when they finished a strong fifth, went into the major round as one of the comp’s form sides, and narrowly lost an epic semi-final after hitting the front in the dying stages. But the next two seasons were a write-off, and our two Showdown losses in 2010 were, to recall Blackadder, the crowning turd in the water pipe.
7. SHOWDOWN 15 – CROWS’ GREATEST UPSET
Port Adelaide had won seven consecutive derbies across 2000-2003 – and was heavily favoured to win the first Showdown of Season 2004 (its AFL premiership season). The Crows were without favour, the bookmakers offering the biggest odds ($5) for a Showdown underdog in the first eight years of the derby. Port Adelaide’s prospects darkened when Showdown specialist Josh Carr could not start because of injury. Adelaide’s seven-goal second term – and Mark Ricciuto collecting the Showdown Medal and 36 touches while free of Carr’s curse – led to a shock 32-point win, giving coach Gary Ayres his second derby win from nine Showdowns. He was gone by Showdown 16.
The Crows had won just once from their first six games going into this but, as a mate noted in the bar after the game, some days you just turn up and win – it’s just your night.
And that it was, in a win loaded with symbolism.
The final margin of 32 honoured the man who wore that number on his back, and whose midfield dominance went a long way to securing the win.
Even better, you’ll notice Adelaide’s total score for this game was 119 points – but sadly, it was still three years before we’d realise how funny this was, which was too late to truly appreciate it.
6. SHOWDOWN 35 – THE LAST WESTERN
Port Adelaide upsetting the Crows in the first encounter at Football Park defined the derby along the ever-lasting theme that the unexpected should always be expected in Showdowns. Port Adelaide’s remarkable comeback – with the Angus Monfries’ right-angles goal – gave the last shoot-out in the western suburbs in August 2013 a mind-boggling finish. Port Adelaide was 20 points down – and seemingly beaten with six minutes to play – when coach Ken Hinkley called defender Jackson Trengove to ruck and positioned midfielder Brad Ebert wide to the outer side of the centre circle to repeatedly win centre breaks. Four goals later, with Chad Wingard scoring his fifth with 28 seconds to play, Port Adelaide closed the Football Park record for derbies with a 19-16 count.
I’ll be honest here: this one didn’t bother me overmuch when it happened.
I mean, I know Power supporters still go into raptures over it, which is a tad annoying, but at the time I had pretty much concluded that our season was already shot going in, and was happy just to see us put in a four-quarter effort. Or, to be precise, more of a three-and-three-quarter-quarter effort. Which was kind of the problem.
At the 22-minute mark of the final term, the Crows led by 20 points, before Port – really quite unhelpfully – piled on four unanswered goals.
It wasn’t until the end of the season though that the true folly of the capitulation sunk in.
If not for losing this most archetypal of eight-point games, the Crows would have finished up with 12 wins for Season 2013, and the Power 11. And all the respective hype and rancour would have been very different.
I’ve disliked it even more in the years since, mostly because Port folk won’t shut up about it.
Also, because it’s become part of the fabric of the Showdown mythology – almost as much as…
5. SHOWDOWN 11 – HOLD MY BEER
KH: (How do you teach a Victorian about Showdown rivalries?) You tell them about the Ramsgate #pafclive
— Port Adelaide FC (@PAFC) May 7, 2021
For all the testosterone that is carried into Showdowns, the greatest brawl between the derby rivals was 24 hours after the final siren in the first Showdown of 2002 finished with Port Adelaide as eight-point winners. The tranquility of seaside Henley was shattered as the two squads crossed paths at Henley Square and punched on in the car park outside the Ramsgate Hotel. Crows midfielder Mark Ricciuto was in the hottest flare-up with Port Adelaide rival Josh Carr, who had held “Roo” to just six kicks in the derby. Undisclosed fines were imposed by both clubs – and Crows football boss John Reid, after formally dressing down his players, closed a team meeting saying: “And I hope you won the fight!” Scorecards from ringside remain heavily contested.
One of the telltale signs that it’s Showdown week is the biannual Ramsgate retrospective – a much-loved (by the people who write it) SA media tradition wherein, like an old campfire tale, the story of the state’s most revered act of spontaneous mass violence is lovingly retold.
According to state law, this regular reflection must always include an interviewee pointing out that if the infamous punch-up had happened in the smartphone era, it would have gained far more publicity than it did but that instead it all died down and was forgotten within a day or so.
As they’ve been pointing out every year now for almost 20 years.
Still, it can’t be denied that the Ramsgate brawl has become as much a part of Showdown folklore as the Monfries goal or the Jameson/Cummings punch-up, and has given desperate football journalists a go-to slice of nostalgia unmatched by any other.
Well, apart from…
4. SHOWDOWN 2 – BROTHERS IN ARMS
Families are often split by Showdown loyalties. But among the competitors, there have been only one set of brothers who have played as rivals (after being teammates at Port Adelaide in SANFL ranks) – Troy Bond (Adelaide) and Shane (Port Adelaide). Their embrace – and smiles – after Troy Bond sealed Adelaide’s seven-point win in the rain-soaked second derby of 1997 was magnificently captured on film by photographer Phil Hillyard. The classic picture finally became the image of the Showdown trophies from 2018.
Yep, that’s the other one – the little-known tale of the iconic Bond brothers photo, which retains its mythical status despite being re-told most years since the late-90s.
3. SHOWDOWN 39 – FOR THE LOVE OF WALSHY
It remains the most emotional Showdown of all – and one of the epic finishes that would have drawn the approval of Phil Walsh who left his mark on both clubs, as a premiership-winning assistant coach at Port Adelaide and as a senior coach at Adelaide. Two weeks after Walsh was murdered at home in July 2015, his Adelaide team held off the fast finishing Port Adelaide by three points. Crows midfielder Scott Thompson won the only Phil Walsh Showdown Medal with his best-afield 36 disposals. The post-match tribute – with fans using their mobile telephones as candles in a darkened Adelaide Oval – remains the most moving moment in Showdown history.
Due to some fairly unfortunate scheduling, I had the rotten luck to be sunning myself on a Greek island when this game was played.
And it shames me to say it, but listening to the radio call via dodgy hotel wifi as I paced the room feverishly emitting the odd cry of ‘C’mon!’ was probably the highlight of the whole trip.
It wasn’t without bad omens though: having dragged our overtired then-three-year-old through customs at Athens airport, we managed to hail a cab only to discover once we settled in the back seat that an eerily-familiar tune was blaring from the driver’s car radio:
Never Tear Us A-bloody-part.
If the previous week’s loss against West Coast – that brave, surreal defeat followed by the even braver and more surreal scenes of players huddled together weeping in the middle of the ground for their fallen coach – proved that fairytales don’t always come true, this match suggested that every once in a while, they still could.
The Crows never got to fashion that masterpiece Walsh spoke of when he comically referenced the troubled artist Van Gogh only weeks before.
But gee, this was close.
2. SHOWDOWN 35 – PYTHAGORAS WHERE ARE YOU?
Not even the most prepared television commentator in Australian football could find the words in 2013 to aptly describe the most famous kick in Showdown history. After watching Port Adelaide forward Angus Monfries’ hasty kick bounce and bounce 18 metres at the northern end of Football Park – from the behind post, past the feet of goal umpire Steve Axon and inside the goal post furthest away from Monfries – Cometti pleaded: “If Pythagoras is watching, explain that.” The goal was part of Port Adelaide’s remarkable fightback that in eight minutes turned a 20-point deficit to a four-point win in the last derby played at West Lakes.
Wingard’s fifth iced the game, but it was the penultimate one, the Monfries miracle miss, that really jarred; a snap that was sailing through for a behind, only to bounce askew through the big sticks.
It was Port’s equivalent of Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal against England in the 1986 World Cup, and as it turned out, the intervention was divinely auspicious.
For, as mentioned above, the Crows would have made the finals that year – and Port wouldn’t – were it not for the Hand Of God intervention.
And we probably would have stuck with Sando as coach for another season, and maybe even another one after that.
So it was a bit of a Sliding Doors moment, this one. Except that both the doors led to unhappiness so it didn’t matter which one we chose.
1. SHOWDOWN 1 – WORK OF ART
Pro Hart painted his very colourful vision of Showdown 1 – April 20, 1997 – from the southern end of Football Park where 47,256 watched both teams win, even if Port Adelaide walked off the West Lakes arena with the first trophy after the 11-point upset. Port Adelaide released seven years of frustration after having its spot in the AFL national league taken by the SANFL’s composite entry in 1991; the Crows won its first AFL flag at the end of the year with the “Messiah” Malcolm Blight turning the ashes of the Showdown defeat into the moment that sharpened the club’s focus on and off the field. With a heavier hand than Pro Hart, Blight scribbled “18” on a whiteboard at a meeting of all players and staff reminded the Crows a season did not end with the start of Australian football’s best modern rivalry.
And with that, we turn to the future.
And I fear that, on current form, Crows supporters on Saturday night will be uttering something reminiscent of the man who painted that work of art that marked the first meeting of SA’s two AFL rivals:
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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