The fifth part of this six-part series features the five players that the Port Adelaide Power, Richmond Tigers and St Kilda Saints can least afford to lose in season 2021 plus an honourable mention.
If you were to take a poll of Port fans and ask who their favourite player is, Charlie Dixon would be near the top of the list.
The key forward possesses many traits the traditional Port Adelaide fan loves to see in a player. An intense and imposing figure who is a strong, powerful, passionate character, wears his heart on his sleeve and is well loved by teammates and fans alike.
A player who creates a contest, can crash a pack, enjoys the physical contest and always gives 100 per cent.
While these are all very noble things, I had a slightly less positive outlook when analysing the overall output of Charlie Dixon since arriving at Alberton at the end of 2015.
Whether it be form, fitness, game plan or conditions, a whole host of factors can influence scoreboard impact, and Dixon has largely not been a prolific goal kicker throughout his AFL journey.
Rightly or wrongly I have often felt one of the most important key measures of a key forward is simply kicking goals.
Many have disputed this outlook with me over the years, often pointing to the fact Charlie is important to the structure and that even if he’s not kicking goals, he takes away a key defender. It is an argument I have never truly accepted.
Yes, it is technically correct. But if the Power drafted Hulk Hogan, stuck him at full-forward and the ball heads in his direction, the opposition will no doubt have a defender grappling with the Hulkster.
Injury has been somewhat constant in the 29-year-old’s career to date and the Queenslander has not managed 50 goals in a season since his AFL debut in 2011.
Simply based on historical evidence I had my doubts if a player turning 30 in 2020 would suddenly have everything click together for a career-best year, but this now seems very plausible.
The evolution to Coleman contender
All preseason the dialogue out of Alberton and media was Charlie Dixon is as fit as he has ever been. While it was great to hear, we often get this rhetoric from AFL clubs in the off-season about players training the house down.
Inevitably after this anticipation Dixon was injured in the last preseason game and missed Round 1.
Dixon returned for the Round 2 clash against Adelaide, a team the former Sun has traditionally struggled against, with Daniel Talia having his measure.
A return of three goals in isolation may not justify a party, but it was a step in the right direction for Dixon, having his best game against the Crows.
The Charlie fan club
The last fortnight has been particularly impressive against the Western Australia clubs, capped off with a dominant six-goal display against the Eagles last Saturday.
Significantly it was the biggest haul for any AFL player in 2020 and a career-high for Dixon in Port colours.
The performance eloquently described by Gerard Whateley on AFL Nation: “He is the most fearsome sight in footy”.
While Fox counterpart Gerard Healy echoed similar sentiments: “I’m going to the footy to watch Charlie next week – any time I can go and see a bloke do that sort of stuff, that’s what our game is all about”.
There is still a long way to go in this unpredictable season, but motivated, fit, clunking marks and kicking goals, ‘King Charlie’, as Dwayne Russell has christened him, is the beneficiary and playing career-best footy.