Top 50 Showdown Moments: Rooch vs Fumbles
20. SHOWDOWNS 17-28 –THE DUEL
After the midfield contests between Mark Ricciuto and Josh Carr from 2000-2004, there was the epic match-up between Port Adelaide premiership captain and key forward Warren Tredrea and new Crows full-back Ben Rutten from 2005. From Showdown 17-28, Tredrea’s scores in the derbies were 0.2, 1.1, 0.1, 0.0, 1.0, 0.2, 0.1, 3.3, 0.2 and 1.0. Rutten outscored Tredrea 1.0 to 0.1 in the Showdown final of 2005. Tredrea rated Rutten as one of the four best defenders he had faced – along with Stephen Silvagni (Carlton), Matthew Scarlett (Geelong) and Darren Glass (West Coast).
He may not be very good at counting bench rotations, but the Truck was a hell of a key defender (when he wasn’t giving away free kicks to Jack Anthony that cost us semi-finals, of course). Which is ironic, since he started his AFL life as a key forward – and even joined that rare group of players who not only snared a goal with their first kick, but with their second and third as well. And all in the same game.
Too bad we actually lost the match, against the Dockers in ’03, by a measly solitary point.
Anyway, I digress. The point is, key forwards who can’t get a game can sometimes turn out to be top-shelf defenders.
Not that I’m thinking of anyone else in particular here.
19. SHOWDOWNS 8-14, 16, 28-29 – PERFECT TEN
West Australian Josh Carr played his first Showdown in the second derby of 2000 and his 10th in the second clash of 2010, often featuring in classic midfield battles with Brownlow Medallist Mark Ricciuto in what became the showdowns within a Showdown. He never lost a Showdown achieving the perfect 10. His absence in the first derby of 2004 was notable for the Crows achieving an upset result – and Ricciuto winning his second Showdown Medal. Carr was absent from Showdowns from 2005-2008 while he played with Fremantle (to have a 3-4 win-loss record against Adelaide).
Ironically, Josh Carr – now an assistant coach back at Freo – was last week charged with failing to adhere to mandated COVID quarantine requirements ahead of the Dockers’ massive win over Richmond.
As Roo can attest, it must be the first time in his career he has failed to successfully lockdown.
18. SHOWDOWN 7 – THE BIG ROO
At West Lakes they still ask: “Is this the greatest performance by a Crow in a Showdown?”
Midfield bull Mark Ricciuto set the record for the most possessions by an Adelaide player in a derby – 41 in 2000.
His epic performance still overshadows the scoreboard telling how Adelaide overcame a 42-point deficit in the third term by scoring eight of the next nine goals to win by seven points. With 25 kicks and 16 handpasses, Ricciuto was the easy choice for the first Showdown Medal as best-afield in the derby. Port Adelaide coach Mark Williams had a golden rule for Showdowns – “don’t rattle the Roo’s cage”. So what was said during the third term? Ricciuto won three Showdown Medals while having an 8-10 win-loss record in derbies from 1997-2007. His nemesis Josh Carr still had not made his AFL for Port Adelaide.
This one remains Adelaide’s biggest ever comeback (unless you count the draw against Collingwood in 2017), and even though neither side made the finals this year, it’s also arguably our greatest Showdown win.
For context, both sides went in with just one victory from their first six games – but the Crows’ sole win had come just the previous week, a trouncing of Hawthorn at home to snap what was then (and sadly no longer) a club-record losing streak dating back to the Malcolm Blight era.
But Port shocked the Crows early, and when the margin hit 42 in the second term, it looked all over – until the Ricciuto-led comeback.
This was one of those ‘remember where you were’ moments: I was working at a now-defunct restaurant in Hyde Park until half-time, and had some friends coming round to watch the delayed TV telecast (these were simpler times). But I ended up glued to the radio till the end, and by the time my mates arrived, I had to sheepishly confess to them that I’d heard the whole thing.
Fortunately, they had too.
17. SHOWDOWN 36 – NOT SO SMART
Crows chief operating officer Nigel Smart was charged with designing a Showdown jumper to wear on the club’s first outing at the redeveloped Adelaide Oval in March 2014. But the fall-out – particularly from former State team representatives – when Smart had Crows midfielder Scott Thompson model the guernsey at Adelaide Oval in early February was brutal. Smart thought he could overcome any objections from Port Adelaide saying: “I don’t care (what Port Adelaide thinks). We’re not worried about Port Adelaide, we’re just worried about what the Adelaide Football Club is going to do on the first game at Adelaide Oval. It will create a lot of discussion, it will create a lot of stories and it will create a lot of debate.” Still does.
We really missed a trick with this one.
In hindsight, we should have agreed not to wear the State of Origin guernsey – and then put it on for a few seconds after the game to sing the song.
That would have really showed everyone!
On the other hand, that wouldn’t have worked either because we didn’t win – and in fact lost quite embarrassingly.
So probably for the best that we weren’t wearing the state jumper at the time, actually.
16. SHOWDOWN 19 – ULTIMATE FIZZER
Port Adelaide premiership defender Chad Cornes pre-empted a finals clash with the Crows as a “dream final”. After minor premier Adelaide stumbled to St Kilda in a home qualifying final at Football Park and Port Adelaide, the 2004 premier, blitzed North Melbourne by 87 points in an elimination final at the Docklands in Melbourne, the first (and only) Showdown final was booked at Football Park as the “Ultimate Showdown” at West Lakes. It became Cornes’ nightmare after half-time when the Crows turned a seven-point lead to a Showdown then-record winning margin of 83 points.
To be fair, it was a dream final – just not for Chad.
For two teams that have qualified for a fair few finals campaigns between them, it’s a bit of a shame that this remains the only time they’ve met in the major round.
Or, at least, it would be a shame – if it weren’t for the fact that we won by a mile.
So maybe we should hope that we preserve our finals record intact by not meeting again in another final for quite a while.
Which, to be honest, looks a pretty likely scenario.
15. SHOWDOWN 44 – PAYBACK DERBY
Port Adelaide beat off four AFL rival clubs – including Adelaide – to secure free agent Steven Motlop (a Port Adelaide fan when he was growing up). The Power reportedly had to lift its deal to $600,000 a season (and deliver a four-year contract) to prise Motlop out of Kardinia Park. But the money assigned to Motlop in 2018 was paid back with his match-winning goal on the run from a centre break with 21 seconds to play after Port Adelaide had given up the lead. Adelaide scored three goals in little more than two minutes to lead by one point off Mitch McGovern’s goal with 42 seconds to play.
This was probably the best finish to a Showdown ever. If you turn the TV off with 40 seconds to go.
Sadly, after that point, everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
The Crows actually won the clearance from the centre bounce after kicking the goal to hit the front, but inexplicably kicked it forward, despite having stacked our backline leaving only Power players to intercept the ball.
Ironically, if the much-maligned 6-6-6 rule had been in place at the time, we probably would have won.
Anyway, not only did Port quickly push forward and allow Motlop to pull a Jack Anthony (ie deliver a match-winning turn after an otherwise quiet game), but in the frantic effort to tackle him, Richard Douglas and Mitch McGovern took each other out in a heavy collision, leaving the latter – who had just kicked what appeared to be the winning goal – sidelined with a sprained ankle for two months.
Although, as his post-Crows career has since proved, that might not have been the loss we thought it was at the time.
14. SHOWDOWN 44 – FIVE SHADES OF GRAY
While the Showdown Medal honour board remains incomplete – with retrospective medals from the first six derbies on hold – there is no question as to which player holds the mantle of “Mr Showdown”: Port Adelaide midfielder-forward Robbie Gray (best-afield in Showdowns 26, 38, 44, 45 and 47). His goalkicking display in the first derby of 2018 – six goals, including five in the third term – changed the flow of a Showdown 44 in which Adelaide had a 21-point lead at half-time. No other Port Adelaide player scored more than one goal in this derby that was decided by five points and ended a record losing streak of five Showdowns for Port Adelaide.
“Mr Showdown” sounds like the nickname for the guy who swaggers through the saloon doors in an old Western movie, but besides that – yes, Gray is indeed a talented player with a propensity to make the mood of many a Crows supporter the colour of his namesake. Next.
13. SHOWDOWN 2 – THE FIGHTBACK
It must have been with great trepidation that the Crows players approached their coach Malcolm Blight at the three-quarter-time huddle in Showdown 2 at West Lakes in August 1997. They had lost the first derby four months earlier – and were 29 points down in the second Showdown after starting the match kicking five consecutive behinds (and just one in the first term). As rain fell and Port Adelaide stopped to not score in the last term, the Crows kicked three goals – from Andrew McLeod, Troy Bond and seven-goal hero Peter Vardy – in the last four and a half minutes to take the Showdown by seven points and rise to the top of the AFL premiership ladder.
Those early Showdowns, as dramatic as they were, operated on a sort of football equivalent of the political ‘pendulum theory’: if you lost one grudge match with Port, you were reasonably assured of winning another in the same year.
Historically speaking then, the few years post-2000 – when Port won seven straight – was about as big a shock to the established orthodoxy as the Thatcher era was to the British postwar political consensus.
Anyway, this match – a miraculous comeback in the wet – was the one that set the tone… and given the ledger still stands at 25-24, the overall evenness of the contest has hardly diminished over time.
12. SHOWDOWN 34 – THE COMEBACK
First, some context. Adelaide had finished top four in 2012; Port Adelaide was officially a “basket case”, ranking 16th of 17 in 2010 and 14th of 18 in 2011. Port Adelaide entered Season 2013 with three consecutive derby losses, the most recent by 58 points. It also had a new coach, Ken Hinkley, with his mantra – “Never, ever give in” – on billboards and t-shirts. But no one imagined the Power could overcome a 31-point deficit in the third term to sting the favoured Crows by nine points. Adelaide’s second term and Port’s second half were for the highlight reel on how counter-break football can be so damaging.
To be fair, someone imagined Port’s comeback – then-Crows coach Brenton Sanderson.
Interviewed on the halftime siren during the TV telecast, Sando declared himself unhappy despite Adelaide’s healthy margin, suggesting Port actually looked the better side and that only poor conversion (they kicked 1.7 to Adelaide’s 5.2 in the second term) was holding back the floodgates.
Which turned out to be quite a canny observation.
Quite impressive really. Though not as impressive as if he’d actually coached us to a win in this game.
11. SHOWDOWN 42 – UNITED WE STAND
Crows captain Taylor Walker made the call to his Port Adelaide counterpart Travis Boak after the first Showdown of 2017 was overwhelmed by racial taunting (on social media) of Adelaide forward Eddie Betts and (from the terraces) of Port Adelaide ruckman Patrick Ryder. While Showdowns are the game that “divides the state”, the full playing squads and staff of the in-town rivals gathered under the old Adelaide Oval scoreboard to stand united against racism. Along with the arms-in-arms tribute to the late Phil Walsh in Showdown 39, this was the most moving statement with common spirit in the deep-seated rivalry.
After most divisive election campaigns, you can generally rely on one of the protagonists to point out that the things that unite us as Australians are more important and enduring than the things that divide us.
This is true of football too – particularly since the thing that mainly unites Crows and Power supporters is their mutual disdain for each other’s respective teams.
And it’s telling that the things that have brought the clubs together over the years have generally been the lowest of low moments: horrendous tragedy, racial vilification.
When things are going well, we can afford to have entirely arbitrary hatreds with vague historical justifications.
But once in a while, we have to remind ourselves that it’s just a game, and that the colours in which we drape ourselves on game-day (and on other days too if you’re particularly fixated) shouldn’t blind us to our shared humanity.
Having said that, I’d be happy if Port never win another Showdown.
Catch the final 10 in InDaily on 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.
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