Ever since Port Adelaide played Adelaide at Football Park on 20 April 1997, the local derby has been known as the Showdown.
After a 2019 season to forget for Ken Hinkley and his Port Adelaide side, there is plenty to prove for a number of his players heading into the new season.
Here are two players in need of a massive 2020 season after a disappointing 2019.
After a severely disjointed pre-season in 2019, thanks to that infamous shoulder injury along with his broken thumb suffered mid-season, Ollie Wines’ first season as co-captain was underwhelming to say the least.
Marred by the huge setback during the pre-season, he never re-discovered his consistent form once he was back in the side. A game that included 33 disposals, eight tackles, eight inside-50s and six clearances was his best performance, and it earned him the three Brownlow votes as Port defeated Fremantle by 43 points to end their disappointing season with a win.
Wines only managed 12 games last season due to injury and while he still averaged 25 disposals a game, many would agree that his form fluctuated dramatically partially due to his interrupted pre-season, with a dour 12-disposal game in Port’s ugly loss to the Western Bulldogs at a rain-soaked Adelaide Oval his worst outing.
To give credit where it is due, his next two games were a 34-disposal game in the Showdown and then 32 the following week against the Lions after the blow torch was well and truly put on him by fans and media alike after the Power’s loss to the Dogs. Then he had four weeks out of the side through injury due to his thumb, before coming back and playing the last three games to find some kind form to see out the year.
In 2020 Port will need Wines to get back to his raging-bull style of play if they are a hope of returning to the finals.
Like Ollie Wines, injury had a big say in Dixon’s form in 2019. The bad break he suffered against the Eagles late in 2018 continued to cause the forward problems heading into the 2019 campaign.
After a number of SANFL games under his belt to build up his fitness and match sharpness, Dixon was unleashed in Round 14 at home to Geelong and his return gave his side an instant confidence boost as they beat the much fancied Cats by 11 points in what was at the time considered a marker put down to the competition as what Port could do when at their best.
Much like his side’s form was up and down, so was Dixon’s. In the nine games he played, he only managed 13 goals and 11 behinds, which included two bags of three goals against Sydney and Fremantle, which for a key forward quite simply is not good enough.
Was there too much expectation on his return after his injury? Yes, I think so. I feel many expected him to hit the ground running, crash packs and take over games with his size and brute strength. But coming off a injury as severe as his was, it was always going to take some time for him to get his form back, time that he wasn’t afforded due to the Power’s dire need for quick wins. He needed to perform and perform straight away.
Now with a full pre-season under his belt, the difference is huge. In his two Marsh Community Series games, Dixon looks as imposing as ever. He is strong at contested marking, covering the ground well, strong on the lead, smashing packs and most importantly kicking goals, booting 4.3 from his 18 touches against the Lions and 2.3 from his eight disposals in two and a half quarters against the Dogs. This suggests at this early stage the big forward is finally ready to impose himself on the competition.
Much will be expected of the Power duo this season and if Dixon and Wines are up and about for Port Adelaide this season, and have a good run with their bodies standing up to the rigours of 20-plus games, then surely Port’s chances of making the finals in their 150th year as a good as anyone’s.