Port face first game without McCarthy

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 02 November 2012 | 14.43

Port Adelaide Power footballer John McCarthy in action. Picture: Sarah Reed Source: adelaidenow

PORT Adelaide players will be free to choose how they honour John McCarthy's memory in Sunday's AFL exhibition match against the Western Bulldogs in London.

The encounter at The Oval will be the first time the Power have played since McCarthy's death on an end-of-season trip to Las Vegas in September.

``It is completely up to the individual. If players want to wear armbands or make a tribute to him they are certainly able to do that,'' acting Port Adelaide captain Hamish Hartlett said.

Port Adelaide have pencilled in a memorial match for the former Collingwood and Power player on April 6 against Greater Western Sydney at AAMI Stadium.

A US coroner last month ruled the cause of McCarthy's death was accidental and Hartlett said McCarthy's passing had pulled the players closer together.

"That bond will continue forever,'' he said. "There is a common link, a few of the Western Bulldogs players were over there (Las Vegas) at the same time and everyone has dealt with it in their own way.

"There is no doubt it has galvanised the group.''
Both Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs have plenty to prove next year following disappointing campaigns, finishing 14th and  15th respectively this year.

Acting Bulldogs captain Shaun Higgins said a forgettable season meant the south London clash took on more significance.

``If you had a successful year last season it may be a bit of a throw away game,'' he said.

``But for us it is a great opportunity to get together again and to continue building.''

The match, starting at 1530 local time (0230 Sunday AEDT), will be an opportunity for ex-Geelong assistants Brendan McCartney and Ken Hinkley to lock horns for the first time as senior coaches.

McCartney and Hinkley were part of the brains trust during the Cats' 2007 and 2009 premiership campaigns.
McCartney has completed one season in the hot seat at the `Dogs while Hinkley was only handed the top job at
the Power three weeks ago.

``We are pretty lucky that we have spent a lot of good times together and we have had some great success and now an opportunity to use what we have learnt and apply that to our own teams,'' Hinkley said.

``Macca has been doing that for 12 months, I have been in the seat for three seconds and feel like I am not sure what I am doing.

``So when we are finished here, I will talk to Macca and get some clues.''

McCartney said his players would be ordered to entertain an expected crowd of more than 10,000 in south

``We are going to let our boys go for hangers and play and have a bit of fun out there,'' he said.

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