Harmsy's Handle - AFL Round 2

Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/Sarah Reed/News Limited
John Harms was particularly impressed by Port in Round 2. Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/Sarah Reed/News Limited
AFL Round 2 - Harmsy's Handle

Sunday night, and I’m a little tired and emotional as I look back on a marathon four days of footy and other frivolities. But what an illuminating round – troubling for some fans (Crows, Swans and Blues are all pretty jumpy and trying to find excuses), and thrilling for others (Port supporters should not be booking holidays at Lake Eildon in September, as they’ll be finding the serenity elsewhere).

These days I live in the People’s Republic of Northcote in Melbourne, just a few stops up the line from Jolimont. So I can be cleaning up the shed listening to the footy during the second quarter and be standing with a beer in my hand at the Punt Road end of the MCG before the Auskickers have finished.
But this weekend I just had to be in Adelaide!

The opening of the new Adelaide Oval and the prospect of a Showdown was just too good to miss. So a few days in the Barossa with a game of golf at Tanunda Pines Golf Club (lost the money, but isn’t that track looking good these days!) were mandatory. I watched Richmond and Carlton with a Rockford Frugal Farmer in one hand and the remote in the other. I needed the remote so I could replay some of the rather amusing disasters. I’m contemplating a small flutter on the Blues for The Spoon, just for amusement value. Melbourne will dominate that market, but worth getting on the Blues before they lose to Essendon this Sunday. The Bombers will be smarting after they let Hawthorn off the hook, a match which pushed the Dockers into premiership favouritism, and rightfully so at this stage of the season.

Saturday was a cracking late summer’s day in South Australia and the City of Churches was on fire. Walking through North Adelaide it was the City of Lunches with pubs and cafes chockers and everyone making their way to the footy. A tremendous buzz.

Once inside the ground, it was worth taking in the moment. The stands are open and airy. You can still see the Adelaide Hills and St Peters cathedral. The scoreboard is a feature as it has been for a century. The Moreton Bay figs are healthy. And there’s grass to sit on, so 'the stubbied and the thonged' have not lost their spiritual home.

The Hill has been my vantage point for decades, but I’d jagged a spot at the Port Adelaide function in the Ian McLachlan Room. Port functions – even those put on by the president - are more democratic than most. They attract an eclectic bunch: a lot of suits and black-shirted blokes with teal ties looking like relatives of Simon Whitlock (the Port Adelaide goatee is very distinctive). I spoke to everyone from obstetricians (hello S. Lane and Bridgette) to senior public servants to wine-makers to families who’ve got the very best out of the fertile soils of the Adelaide Plains.

In all the celebration what was not forgotten was that it was a match for four points in which one of the sides would plant their flag in the new territory. I was very keen on Port. Sure the Crows have an excellent (and classy) mid-field, but I couldn’t see where 15 goals would come from.
Port were on. Ebert was as tough as all day, Hartlett has that something special, Wines is ridiculously powerful for a kid. Cornes is the old pro. And Lobbe jumped all day. Add the creativity (and talent) of Wingard (who needs to work on his defensive skills as well) and Schulz taking some big marks late. Very impressive. Sitting in the Queen’s Head we reflected on what a brilliant day it had been.

Every year I try to find an early value bet for the flag. Port may not win it, but if you had a flutter at the $26 early then you’d be nicely set up to manoeuvre your portfolio over the coming months.

My early flag value investment went on the Cats – surprise, surprise. The double figure odds were too good to resist and they have done the right thing early. At the Gabba, the Lions were solid for periods, but the Cats physical strength and highly-organised team approach got the better of them in the end.

West Coast is the other to catch the eye, although their draw has been soft and they have the (undefeated!) Sainters this week.

The sun’s still got some bite in it, but footy is well and truly back, and life in Adelaide has taken a turn for the better.

John Harms

Editor footyalmanac.com.au