PORT ADELAIDE POWER TEAM OF THE DECADE 2000-2009
B: Michael Wilson, Darryl Wakelin, Matthew Bishop
HB: Adam Kingsley, Chad Cornes, Brett Montgomery
C: Jarrad Schofield, Josh Carr, Roger James
HF: Peter Burgoyne, Warren Tredrea, Stewart Dew
F: Gavin Wanganeen, Brendan Lade, Danyle Pearce
R: Dean Brogan, Shaun Burgoyne, Kane Cornes
I/C: Dominic Cassisi, Matthew Primus, Josh Francou, Nick Stevens
Coach: Mark Williams
Captain: Warren Tredrea
1997 marked the year Port Adelaide, one of the most famous sporting clubs in the country, powered their way into the AFL. Whilst they were fairly competitive in their early seasons, managing to rack up some scalps along the way, Port didn’t really make proper impact until the new millennium.
Port made their maiden finals appearance in 1999, then endured a tough season in 2000 finishing 14th. However, slowly and surely over the next few seasons, Port Adelaide transformed into one of the best teams in the competiton. In fact, between the years 2001-2004, they won more games than any other club in the comp, and amazingly finished up top of the ladder at the end of the ‘Home and Away’ season, for 3 times consecutively between 2002-2004, a mighty fine achievement. It’s true, The Power were labelled as ‘chokers’, after being bundled out of the finals in 2001, 2002 and 2003, but certainly made up for it in 2004, when they brought the mighty Lions’ winning streak to a sudden screeching halt, and created their own little piece of history, by claiming their first ever premiership in the AFL.
This team comprises the majority of that brilliant premiership team. Defence is superbly led by Darryl Wakelin, a vital addition to The Power from the Saints, and was a solid rock down back, playing on all the big guns. I don’t think anyone will ever forget his fiesty tussle with Alaistair Lynch in the grand final! Two players the Power picked up in the trade period after 1999, Brett Montgomery and Matthew Bishop, were low-profile players, but both went on to become key players in defence. Montgomery, in particular, was absolutely superb along the half back line, and was duly rewarded with All-Australian selection, and also a Best and Fairest Award. Bishop was vastly capable playing on the tall forwards, and assisted with great support for comrades Wakelin and Stephen Paxman.
Adam Kingsley and Michael Wilson, both of whom could spend time in the midfield, also added steel strength to the backline. Wilson started his career with a loud bang, winning the Rising Star Award in 1997, before being haunted by some old knee injuries. In his prime, he was a popular player with fans and teammates alike, respected for the agressive, but fair way he approached his footy. Wilson played down back, adding strength, and an admirable ability to play on the smaller forwards, while Kingsley fought tooth and nail to make it to AFL level, and was a tremendous pick up for the Power, also holding ability to play a role down back when neeed. He mostly played in the middle though, his consistent efforts seeing him take out a Best and Fairest honour.
Two sets of brothers were powerful driving forces in the success of this Port side – the Cornes brothers, and the Burgoyne brothers. Chad and Kane Cornes, offspring of ex Crows coach and South Australian legend Graham Cornes, were the heart and soul of this side. Chad could certainly get right under the skin of his opponent, not to mention bugging the crap out of the opposition supporters, but geez he was a grand player throughout his career! Ability to play in a number of positions, able to play key back and key forward, as well as playing roles in midfield, highlights what a talent Chad was, and how vital his presence was to the overall structure of the side. And oh how he loved to celebrate a goal or a victory young Chadwick! You had to chuckle, watching him egg on the Port crowd, carrying on with joyous fist-pumping, antagonising the rival fans. His brother Kane was another fan favourite, developing into one of the best taggers in the AFL, frequently taking down star players in the league. In shutting down his opponent, Kane was able to be a prolific ball winner himself, earning 3 prestigious Best and Fairest Awards.
Peter and Shaun Burgoyne were the other highly skilled set of brilliant brothers. Both supremely talented players, and damaging midfielders. The way they broke the lines, and used their flawless foot skills to set the play up, accompanied by their great ability to kick goals when pushing forward – Bloody tough for the opposition when both the Burgoynes were on fire!
On the centre line were 3 players who outside of the club were underrated, but were key players in the Power’s drive to the flag. Jarrad Schofield coming over from West Coast, added depth to the midfield. Schofield, a creative player with his run along the wings, was a very good user of the ball and also a handy goal kicker at times. Josh Carr was the hard nut in the side. He loved to ruffle his opponent’s feathers and used anything he could to give his side an advantage. Admittedly not the most talented of players, he was adored by his teammates and gave his all to the club. The low-key member of the premiership side was sturdy inside player, Roger James. He was a fine player who could be relied upon to take on any task asked of him and tackle it head on. Sadly, he was forced to retire prematurely due to injury. A little bit of trivia – Roger played in Port’s first flag, and his brother Brett played in Adelaide’s first flag – impressive! There can’t be too many brothers who could say they played in their side’s first ever premiership win!
Gavin Wanganeen is one of the first men picked in this side. Wanganeen, an absolute superstar with over 300 games under his belt, has a hoard of accolades – Brownlow, All-Australian, premiership flags – you name it, Wanga did it! Essendon fans still lament the fact he went to Port. He’s still a loved figure at Windy Hill, but even more loved at Alberton. Wanga was a player who could play beautifully just about anywhere, was a gun defender, was excellent in the middle, and was extremely handy up forward too. The Power fans loved his 4 goal haul in the premiership. He always had plenty of time when he had possession, pacey speed, and sublime skills to boot!
Stewy Dew adds class to the forward half. With his thumping left boot, outside 50 Dewy was lethal and, more often than not, nailed the crunch goals. He adds variety to the side, as he could also spend time down back, and in the middle. I’ve gone for Dannyle Pearce in the pocket, as he injects genuine speed around the goals, and also can run through the midfield. Pearce burst on the AFL scene by winning the Rising Star Award in his second season, joining Michael Wilson as another of The Power players who have been deserving in winning that award. Whilst Pearce’s inconsistency may frustrate fans at times, when he’s switched on, he is a big talent and still has plenty of good football ahead of him.
The captain of this side is Warren Tredrea, the big centre half forward who took over captaincy from Matty Primus. Tredrea is arguably The Power’s greatest ever player. The games and goals record holder was a major influence on the side. In the important matches, Tredrea’s ability to dominate the oppostion with his contested marks, and kicking huge goals, saw him become one of the best key forwards of his era, and saw him duly rewarded with multiple awards like Best and Fairest, All-Australian, Leading Goalkicker, and International Rules – a truly great career!
I’ve actually gone for 3 ruckmen in this side! Port Adelaide have been blessed with really good ruck spots in the last decade, so in the starting line up, I’ve selected Dean Brogan, Brendan Lade, and Matthew Primus. Brogan made a successful transition from the NBL to the AFL, starting his career slowly, but when injuries hit Primus, Brogan stepped up to the plate and shone, becoming an influential player for The Power. With agressive style, and refusing to take a backward step, Brogan really liked to have a go at the oppostion, and was a ‘heart and soul’ player for his side. Brogan formed a solid partnership with Lade, who overcame two broken legs to become a key player in the ruck. With his brillant tap work, and work around the stoppages, Lade was an asset up forward, kicking plenty of goals and offering a big target up front. Lade was rewarded with All-Australian selection twice. While I have gone for Matty Primus on the bench, injuries cruelly robbed him of playing in the premiership and also prompted the premature ending of his career. But Primus was one of the finest ruckman going around in the late 90′s and early 2000′s. His tap work was terrific, and his ability to get around the ground was quite exceptional, for a big man. The leadership of Primus was first class, and he too received dual All-Australian honours. It was a damn shame that injuries interrupted his promising career.
Rounding out the bench is Josh Francou, who early in the decade was one of the elite midfielders in the comp, before copping some serious knee injuries. Current day captain, Dom Cassisi, is next, an unassuming player who has a handy knack of finding the footy and simply gets the job done. And lastly, the final spot goes to Nick Stevens, a quality outside midfielder who played many brilliant games for the club before moving to Carlton.
Of course, with The Power being a successful team in the true sense of the word, there are many excellent players who sadly missed out on selection in this side. That includes premiership quartet Damien Hardwick, Josh Mahoney, Byron Pickett and Toby Thurstans, all who played their part in footy history, particularly Pickett who won the Norm Smith Medal in the Grand Final. It certainly was a tough toss-up between Pickett and Pearce, but just went with Pearce for his extra pace and the fact he can play more midfield. Hardwick was a hard, uncompromising defender, who added valuable experience to the team, but was at the club in the latter stages of his career. With Wilson, Montgomery and the like, it was too tricky to squeeze them all in! Mahoney offers a great footy story. Rejected by Collingwood and the Bulldogs, Mahoney returned to the VFL for 3 years, before being a shock pick up for The Power. Mahoney provided a small forward option who could take a grab, and was even leading goalkicker in 2006. But it was just too hard to nudge out the likes of Dew and Wanganeen! Thurstans was a handy swingman in his time, filling in some key roles down back, as well as up forward, and fans rejoiced over his hat trick in the Grand Final, but he misses out due to the fact there were already 3 ruckman in the side.
Stephen Paxman, a very good player at full-back, misses out to Darryl Wakelin, and the likes of David Rodan,Troy Chaplin, Brett Ebert, Travis Boak and Daniel Motlop all played their roles and had some great memorable moments along the way, but were just not enough to oust any of the players chosen!
So here we are now! Fast forward to 2012, with Matthew Primus at the helm, and some extremely promising young players like Hamish Harlett,Travis Boak,John Butcher, Brad Ebert on deck! Mix that together with some awesome experience from Dom Cassisi, Kane Cornes, and Troy Chaplin, and we surely won’t be waiting long until The Power gets back to being a thunderous force to be reckoned with!
- The Forward Scout
These thoughts and opinions are those of the author and are not necessarily aligned with those of Nick Maxwell or the people at nickmaxwell.com.au
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