Harmsy's Handle - AFL Round 6

Port Adelaide's Ollie Wines
John Harms reckons Port Power are like a 'works pizza', they've got the lot. Image courtesy of news.com.au
AFL Round 6 - Harmsy's Handle

Wow! That’s all we could say.


Old Mate Eric was sitting in my lounge room on Sunday evening, stubby of Invalid Stout drooping in his hand, mouth open, stupid grin on his Collingwood face, looking blankly at the TV, “They’re good, Port Adelaide. They’re really good.”

Too right they are!

It had been a big footy weekend, which was supposed to culminate in a celebration of the Geelong Football Club with a few friends, a few beers, and a celebratory Volcano with extra jalapenos.

We’d spent the weekend leading up to it; preparing for it. Eric was down from New South to watch his mighty Pies. I’ve known him for years – since he was studying computer science, five years of his life that he spent in search of free beer, whether it be smokos put on by the electrical engineers or wine and cheese events convened by his comrades at the feminist-anarchist knitting cooperative. He was a gangly ruckman for the Uni of Queensland Red Lions – a real club man. We built a friendship based on the loathing of each other’s VFL footy club.

His was playing on ANZAC Day. The commemoration at the MCG resonated as usual, and the footy was significant in that we learnt a little more about Collingwood. I’m not sure they are big threats, but their skill level can improve and their key backmen – Lachlan Keeffe and Jack Frost – are developing. The Pies are definitely in the mix.

Then the Kangaroos added confusion to those of us who like our form-lines to be straight by beating Freo – over there. That’s a good win; a victory which has yielded considerable reassessment (again). But maybe that’s it: on their day the Roos are going to be hot, it’s just a matter of how the sun rises and whether they’ve woken up in the right headspace.

Saturday’s matches didn’t have the same appeal, although Carlton breathed life into the schedule with a stirring comeback in the final fifteen minutes, which saved us from the torture of more Bluebagger hand-wringing. The boys from Princes Park have a lot to do, and so do the Eagles who seem to lack team balance.

Saturday night’s match between Melbourne and Sydney was incapable of holding the attention of the neutral, but offered some hope to Demon fans (in that the Dees were competitive and at least contained Sydney) and gave the Bloods faithful an unsatisfying win. Channel-surfing between the Force-Bulls game and the footy, there were times you couldn’t much tell the difference between the codes, and you could hear the groans from footy and rugby supporters from around the nation. Both lacked sparkle – big time.

To Sunday, which should have been spent on the golf course, the weather was so pristinely perfect. But there were leaves to rake and kids to chase which was all done with the backing vocals of commentators Dan Lonergan and Stan Alves as they called the Bulldogs throwing away a terrific opportunity against a nervy Adelaide. At least the Crows are back in the mix.

Hawthorn and Cyril then did a job on the hapless Richmond, who had no answers. A lot of teams won’t if the Hawks continue to be as clean as they were yesterday.

So all was in readiness. Eric walked in with the stout, barking about Collingwood. Then Jack (the base player in a country and western band) and Julieanne (the fashion artiste) turned up with their tribe (who were sent straight to the trampoline, to join ours).

Port Adelaide v Geelong. It was one of those matches that had the attention of footy fans across the board. Cats, undefeated, having just knocked off the flag fave; Port ,improving rapidly; Port, coached by a maverick Geelong son; full house at the Adelaide Oval on a glorious autumn afternoon.

The Cats were all over Port early but didn’t make them pay, and certainly caused nothing more than a shake of the head from a series of blows. It was like the Power said, “Is that the best you’ve got?” and took off.

Because they have got the lot.

Here’s why Port will be right in it this year:

They are skilful. They have taken a leaf from the Hawthorn play-book and have developed their kicking. Long, penetrating, pretty accurate.

They are quick. They make space and when you have those kicking skills, you find those free men.

They are very fit. (There’s a nice body of evidence to support this assertion – they’ve been winning last quarters for 12 months)

They are enterprising. They run and gun and are happy to. They smashed Geelong in the final third of the match. It was as if Travis Boak and his hard-nut mates had done the hard work early, and said, “Chad, you take over son.” And Chad Wingard did. Talk about value for possessions.

They are well-coached tactically. It’s hard to tell from the TV, but it looked like Ken Hinkley shut down Joel Selwood and Johnno (Johnno still got the Sherrin but was given no time to use it). He also made Corey Enright and Pops Kelly accountable.

They have under-rated big blokes. From Matthew Lobbe, right through their key backmen, Trengove and Carlisle, to Jay Schulz and the versatile Justin Westhof.

They have a squad of blokes who want to win footy matches, not just play in them.

Here’s where they may fall:

Will they handle the pressure placed on them by the best sides? (What a prospect Port v Hawthorn, May 24!)

What would have happened if the Cats converted some of their errant shots at goal?

How will they handle their away trips – the travel itself, the nature of the grounds?

We were expecting the Cats to come back, Port wouldn’t let them back in. They were magnificent.

The pizza didn’t taste as good.

But it was still pizza.

Eric thinks Collingwood are Top 4.

I know Port Adelaide are.

John Harms is editor of footyalmanac.com.au