The day kicked off early as we lined for our passes into the inaugural Members Convention in the Allan Scott Headquarters. It was clear from the outset that this event would expose us to intellectual property that the club would prefer stay within the confines of the 4 walls, or, at least be conveyed to other members and supporters we knew and not published to the wider public. Passing on anecdotal comments would be one thing, recording or taking notes would be another and that was stressed from the outset. Whilst I can discuss the day there’s aspects I would rather not post here, happy to catch up for a chat if you want to know more.
Dwayne Russell kicked off the day as our MC introducing Ken Hinkley as the first speaker who welcomed the Adelaide media to the event, although he also made it clear they would be asked to leave once the initial opening had been completed. Ken spoke about the thinking behind the convention, how he wanted the people who attended to go away and help “educate” our fellow members and supporters to our game style, the roles the players play within that style and what we’re trying to achieve.
Following on from this was Chris Davies and Jason Cripps looking into our draft / trade strategy. It was widely accepted that the 2017 National draft pool was quite thin on talent, certainly compared to the upcoming draft at the end of 2018. Having brought in Sam Powell-Pepper and Todd Marshall as 18 year olds in 2016 we went down the well publicised route of bringing in some free agents and targeted trades. Keeping in mind we have a 1st round pick, 2 2nd round picks and 2 3rd round picks in the upcoming draft. None of this is a secret to the football world. With Powell-Pepper and Marshall in ’16, Hayes, Farrell, Patmore and Garner in ’17 and 5 picks in the 1st 3 rounds in 2018 we’ll bring around 10-12 18 year olds into the club in 3 years. A nice balance with our off season recruits being more mature, experienced players.
Michael Regan than took us into the vastly complex world of modern football analytics. This was mind boggling at best, in essence how can statistical analysis complement years of football knowledge and gut feel that the coaches work with? From evaluating potential draft picks and valuing them through to developing training drills that best replicate match simulation this was a look at the world of AFL football many of us never knew existed, or at least knew of but never really understood the complexities of.
Nicks, Voss, Bassett and Lade then spoke in turn. Nicks, clearly a prankster, covered the role of the senior coach and his assistants on a day to day basis. Voss, Bassett and Lade then took us deeper into each line as we focussed on the good and bad of stoppages, the method in which we like to move the ball from defence and the way we like our forward line to set up as our first line of defence. The coaching group look tight knit, Nicks and Lade would drive Voss and Bassett mad with their ordinary jokes and laid back style while Lade and Nicks would duck for cover when Voss and Bassett mean business. They looked a well balanced group. Looking at who plays what role in each line was fascinating, for instance Sam Gray is seen as a pressure forward, DBJ a shutdown defender and what that role plays within the greater structures.
Aaron Greaves and Karl Woods gave us a summary of how the club is up skilling not just the players but the coaches. Their skills acquisition strategy is to make the coaches better teachers, the players better students and equally as important everyone better people. Better people who have balanced lives, whose mood isn’t determined by Dream Team points, whose home life isn’t consumed by structures at stoppages. Better people, better teaching skills, better listening skills, better learning environment.
High Performance. Two words we’ve all heard, two words that put together with Ian Mckeown, Tim O’Leary and Stuart Graham become so mind bogglingly complex they make you wonder if you even know what high performance even means. Complex is an understatement, but put it this way, Port Adelaide has world’s best practice for athletic development at our disposal, the skills and knowledge of this team is simply world class and our playing group must be thrilled on a day to day basis to have these men ( and others ) giving them the very best opportunity to get the very best out of themselves.
Wrapping up the day was left to Keith Thomas. Now, at this stage we’ve been sitting on our plastic outdoor chairs for about 5 to 6 hours, people are getting restless. For the next 20 minutes as KT held the floor a pin dropping on the astroturf would have been like a gong going off. He had the room captivated. Our journey as a club began in 1870, there’s been many great moments in time for the PAFC since then, there’s also been some not so great.
The position the club was in 2011 was dire, make no mistake, but with careful planning by KT, David Koch and a committed group of directors we’ve left the dark days of 2011 and 2012 behind us. A key aspect of this was reengaging with the community, “Give before you take” was the motto, give something to the community before you ask for something in return. Our cultural programs, our partnership with Foodbank, all of this ( and other programs ) was a conscious decision to engage with the Port Adelaide community.
Kochy closed off the day’s proceedings with a look into the China strategy, where the board see’s the club in the coming years and the honour that is attached with being a custodian of this great club that in 2 years will turn 150 years old. We are Port Adelaide.
As you can see from the above it was a big day at Alberton, the soft grey matter between my ears was basically calling for something cold and frothy. Who am I to argue?
There was a few notable absentee’s from the internal trial, Robbie Gray and Jack Watts were granted leave to attend weddings, Charlie Dixon was a late withdrawl with back sorness, Chad Wingard was on the way back from a minor hamstring strain and Sam Powell-Peppers fringe was gone, actually, it was all gone. I’m guessing he was on the wrong end of a bet.
Being the first real hit out of the year played in pretty warm conditions the game started pretty evenly, inside bulls Wines and Powell-Pepper were on opposing teams and both had an impact inside the contest early. SPP was playing like his life depended on it ( he knows no other way ) yet even he felt the strength of Ollie as the two clashed over the ball. Wines, bent down over the ball was crashed into by SPP, Wines just stood there like nothing had hit him. Let’s hope Wines takes the next step this year to an elite player of the competition, his understanding with Billy Frampton a clear indication the two spend plenty of the summer looking up / down at each other.
Early on new recruit Trent McKenzie had some quality touches, breaking an Aidyn Johnson tackle and delivering onto the chest of fellow new recruit Jack Trengove a display of his elite kicking skills.
At the pointy ends Todd Marshall was plucking things he shouldn’t have been able to reach if he wasn’t leading up and clunking it in front of his face. Manned up to Tom Jonas his two contested marks on TJ were, I think, a glimpse of what 2018 holds for the young key forward. His first half shaded Wines, SPP and Boak for the best on honours early. Westhoff was drifting across the midfield, Harlett and Houston were racking up numbers across half back and shoulder buddies Brad Ebert and Tom Rockliff showed their experience despite only coming back into full contact training in recent weeks following reconstructive surgery.
Rockliff showed a couple of moments we all enjoyed, a chase down tackle in the forward 50 on Dan Houston that led to a contest at the top of the square. He then followed up with a second and third effort that resulted in a snap on goal that duly saluted. Forward pressure. Scoring opportunity. Converted goal. I like it. I like it a lot.
It’s now 6:30 and after a long day I decided to pull up stumps and make the short walk home to put the feet up and digest the day’s events.
The first part of the day was simply brilliant. For those of you who attended take the words of Brendan Lade on board, be selfless, if the event next year is held in the same place with the same numbers, be selfless, give someone else the opportunity to attend. Sure, I’d love to go again, but wouldn’t it feel good knowing you’ve given one of your own the opportunity to experience that event just as you did? Of course it would.
As for the internal I’m only going to comment on the first half as by the time the siren rang out to start the second half I could hear it, only just, over the sound of the top popping off the cold and frothy thing I’d been craving all afternoon.