From a basket case to the top eight: Port Adelaide 2013

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September last year the Port Adelaide Football Club was known as a ‘basket-case,’ a club that had no direction. The club was ready to move forward by finding a new coach and a new president to give them new hope.

To give an idea to non-Port Adelaide supporters, I will tell you what I was feeling and what I was thinking when I heard a PAFC footballer had died.

I was getting a lift home from school with a friend. The first thing my friend’s sister asked her mum was, “Did you hear about the Power player who died?”

When I heard this my heart dropped, I lived in disbelief, even when CEO Keith Thomas confirmed the news that it was John McCarthy, my favourite player.

It took a few days to sink in; all I could think was, “We have no coach, no off-field direction and my favourite player has died, where to from here?”

After John McCarthy tributes, more stories started coming out from Port Adelaide about who the next coach would be, countless amount of names were thrown in to the mix.

During the coaching saga, David Koch was announced as the new chairman of PAFC. Fans knew Koch and the new board was the first step to moving forward and things were going to happen.

When Ken Hinkley, high performance manager: Darren Burgess and experienced assistant coach Alan Richardson was announced at Power headquarters on October 8, CEO Keith Thomas stated that the new coaches represented “a new era of coaching excellence at Port Adelaide.”

Hinkley was given the label “the last man standing” by the media when he looked to be the only option for the Power.

Hinkley replied to his criticism during the press conference he was unveiled at, by telling reporters that he was the right man standing.

Once the preseason had started there were a lot of fresh faces at Alberton; including players such as Monfries, Wines and Neade.

The Power had a reasonably successful NAB Cup campaign defeating West Coast and Sydney. Power’s efforts flew under the radar as they had losses to Adelaide in the searing heat and Melbourne where Hinkley decided to play his youngest players.

Port Adelaide’s round one game against Melbourne ended up being an eye-brow raiser for both clubs.

Port Adelaide looked like a fitter, more determined side compared to the squad that played under Mathew Primus.

The AFL community had acknowledged Port Adelaide’s improvement and direction once Power had a come-from-behind win against cross-town rival Adelaide Crows.

There was nothing but appraisal for PAFC.

Once Port Adelaide had defeated premiership fancies, West Coast Eagles to go 5 – 0, the new coaching panel and new Port Adelaide Board were starting to be known as saviours of the Port Adelaide Power.

After 10 games the Power were 5 – 5, media outlets were questioning if the five back to back wins were a honey moon phase, as Port Adelaide started to lose convincingly, due to their inability of playing four quarters of competitive football.

After a well needed bye, Power came out to dominate a fancied GWS side.

After a thrilling round of Football, Power has now defeated the reigning premiers Sydney Swans and they are now back in the top eight.

Looking back at where Power was last September, the club is now a fun club to be at. McCarthy’s death brought the PAFC community tighter.

It has to be said that McCarthy would have improved impeccably under Hinkley’s guidance as John McCarthy was only a young footballer.

Hinkley and Koch have changed The Advertiser’s headlines from “Lost Sheep” (2012) to “This is the Real Port Adelaide.”(2013)

Last September headlines also were reading “Vale John McCarthy” now they are “Port Adelaide relevant again (after downing Swans.)”

John McCarthy would be proud of his former club.

Port Adelaide has risen in 2013 and now the sky’s the limit.

Port Adelaide faces an inconsistent Collingwood outfit.

They will fancy themselves at home, as a big home crowd is predicted for the game. It will be the first time McCarthy’s former teams face each other. There will be a mutual respect shared between the players and coaches.

As both supporter bases also loved John McCarthy, the football world should be expecting a high intensity, tight contest this Saturday between Power and Collingwood.

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