Thirty-two years of watching Port Adelaide destroy the hopes and dreams of multiple teams when it matters has taught me that they’re a bear you shouldn’t poke.
And if ever the Power needed an injection of that Magpies belligerence, it’s now.
The Port Adelaide tradition is the greatest and oldest in the country. They are the single most successful team in the country by premierships – a record built on a signature attitude.
As a kid, when you went to watch Port Adelaide play your side, you learned quickly that no lead was ever safe because they just did not ever give up.
I can’t count the amount of times I slumped devastated into the back seat of my mum’s 1981 Mazda 626 and silently eased out of the Football Park carpark, having just had my heart broken by Port Adelaide again.
We all hated them. But we hated them because they were so bloody good.
When Port Adelaide Power entered the AFL in 1997, they were forbidden from having any links to the Port Adelaide Magpies. Fans would argue that mattered little because in their hearts it was still the same club. Circa 2010, Port Adelaide Power announced a reshuffle and the Power and Magpies came back together under one board.
The one-club narrative has been the topic of much conjecture since, with some believing it would be the death of the 143-year-old Port Adelaide tradition.
When Adelaide and Port Adelaide struck deals to enter reserves teams into the SANFL, the one-club policy effectively enveloped the Magpies, turning them into a Power reserves side.
Former Magpies captain Steven Summerton said this on social media about that development: “A Power reserves team will be a team full of blokes not playing for the prison bars, but playing only to try and get themselves noticed by the AFL side.”
Fast forward to 2021 and after a whole season in the top four without actually beating any other sides in it, Port Adelaide Power have been labelled by the AFL media circus as pretenders.
Had this been a mate sitting next to me in the stands, I’d have promptly told them to shut up. You do not poke this bear.
Can this side prove me right? It remains unclear. From the outside looking in, the Power don’t invoke anything like the same sense of trepidation Magpies teams used to trigger. Yet they have the ultimate opportunity to regain that image.
This used to be the exact time the insatiable beast inside the Magpies would wake. And they’d mercilessly mow you down from six goals down in the last.
Well, they’re six goals down and it’s the last quarter of the season. So these players and this administration need to tap into the tradition narrative now and drink from it by the gallon.
The list is good enough, but if Port Adelaide Power wish to continue claiming 143 years of heritage and tradition, then for the next six weeks and finals, the players need to show their fans they understand it.
Because if they fail again, the wider footy public will find it incredibly difficult to take their claims seriously, which as a Port hater from way back, I would find very sad.
Footy doesn’t feel quite right if you don’t fear Port Adelaide.