Last year, the AFL preseason hype centred on teams like Melbourne, Essendon and Carlton, but the surprise packets of 2020 were Brisbane.
The Lions did not disappoint from an outstanding start to the season and coach Chris Fagan attributed the change in fortune to the players’ attitude and leadership, particularly when responding to losses in Rounds 4 and 5.
When examining why teams perform better than they should on paper, it seems to come back to one undeniable fact: history means everything!
Thus, in the 150th anniversary year of Port Adelaide Football Club, the Power will don the historic, premiership-winning ‘prison bars’.
Passion in their 150th year will result in a dramatic surge up the table.
Remember though, smart football wins matches. Port Adelaide were number one in 2019 for inside 50s, averaging 58.1 per game, but only converted to goals at 19.5 per cent – the AFL average is 23 per cent, with minor premiers Geelong converting at 27 per cent.
However, the smooth moving and efficient disposal of Port’s midfield, along with Karl Amon on the wing and a fit and firing Jack Watts, Justin Westhoff, Ryan Burton, Tom Clurey and Hamish Hartlett in the back half will improve the delivery to the fit and lean-looking forward targets like Charlie Dixon and Todd Marshall.
Other teams’ defences will be having nightmares for weeks.
Ken Hinkley has indicated he will be giving opportunities to new recruits such as Miles Bergman, Mitch Georgiades and Dylan Williams, and after last year’s recruiting bonanza, who could doubt him?
The recipe for success is taking shape when you sprinkle in Robbie Gray, Travis Boak, Brad Ebert’s gut-running, and the hard inside midfield grunt of Ollie Wines and smarts of Tom Rockliff in the square.
Throw in a personal best time trial for Scott Lycett, as well as veterans Westhoff and Gray, and you can see that this is not an ordinary year for Port.
Supporters should begin to get excited.