Future bright after year of pain

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 29 Desember 2012 | 14.43

John McCarthy's death in Las Vegas devastated his club Port Adelaide and the broader community. Picture: Sarah Reed Source: The Advertiser

A YEAR that started so brightly for Port Adelaide ended disastrously.

A thrilling opening-round win against St Kilda was forgotten as the Power missed the finals for the fifth consecutive year, coach Matthew Primus lost his job, the president stepped down and popular midfielder John McCarthy tragically fell to his death from a Las Vegas hotel on an end-of-season players trip.

Rarely has an AFL club endured such emotion in one year.


Saturday, August 4, Skoda Stadium.

Matthew Primus had planned to coach Port for a decade. He lasted only two seasons.

After walking on eggshells all season, Primus's job was made untenable after the Power became new club Greater Western Sydney's second victim.

The round 19, 34-point defeat was described by Primus as the "lowest point" in Port's 16-year AFL history and he was brought to tears at his post-match press conference.

While he vowed to fight for his job, Primus was sacked at an emergency board meeting the following day.


Monday, August 6, Alberton.

The president went down with the coach. In making Matthew Primus's axing official, a teary president Brett Duncanson announced he would resign at the end of the year.

On the same day, chief executive Keith Thomas revealed the club had undertaken a complete review of its operations, including its recruiting and fitness records.

Media personality David Koch was later appointed president, despite living in Sydney.


Saturday, April 21, Etihad Stadium.

The writing was on the wall for Port the day excitement machine Robbie Gray crashed to the Etihad Stadium turf clutching his mangled right knee.

Gray's knee buckled in the final 30 seconds of the round-four clash against Collingwood after he landed awkwardly from a marking contest. He missed the rest of the season and the Power was robbed of one of its few gamebreakers.


Sunday, September 9, Las Vegas.

Football was put into perspective when popular Power midfielder John McCarthy tragically died in a fall from a Las Vegas Hotel less than 24 hours after 10 Port players flew in for their end-of-season trip.

The man affectionately known as J-Mac who joined the Power from Collingwood at the end of 2011 had touched the hearts of everyone who had met him.

Port football manager Peter Rohde flew to Vegas to investigate McCarthy's death and brought his body home while the Power players were devastated at losing their good mate. The Power has introduced a series of measures to honour McCarthy next year.


Sunday, April 1, AAMI Stadium.

Round one was a rare shining light for Port. With Hamish Hartlett starring, the Power stunned finals-hardened St Kilda by four points to give its fans hope that it had turned the corner after a nightmare 2011 campaign.

Sadly, it was to win just four more games for the year.


Sunday, June 17, Etihad Stadium.

Key forward Jay Schulz nearly died when team-mate Justin Westhoff's right knee hit him with such force in a marking contest against the Western Bulldogs that he felt his insides being "torn to shreds".

Schulz ruptured his lumbar artery in the mid-air collision, was rushed to hospital after the game, spent a night in the intensive care unit at Melbourne's Epworth Hospital and lost two units of blood. He also damaged a kidney and for weeks carried a blood clot the size of a small football.

Amazingly, Schulz who earlier in the season nearly lost the sight in his right eye after being accidentally poked by Crow Michael Doughty returned to the field seven weeks later.


Sunday, July 15, Adelaide Airport.

In a blatant poaching attempt, Geelong was caught red-handed at Adelaide Airport trying to entice uncontracted Port star Travis Boak to the Cattery.

Coach Chris Scott, captain Joel Selwood and vice-captain Jimmy Bartel flew into town less than 24 hours after their clash against Collingwood for talks with midfielder Boak, who was also courted by North Melbourne.

The Cats copped plenty of flak for their brazen bid to steal Port's best player but they left empty-handed, with Boak eventually re-signing with the Power for two more years.


Monday, October 8, Alberton.

Former Geelong and Gold Coast assistant Ken Hinkley was appointed as just the Power's fourth AFL coach.

Painted as the reluctant Port coach, Hinkley immediately declared he wasn't the last man standing but ``the right man standing".

On the same day, Alan Richardson was appointed as his senior assistant and Darren Burgess who had just quit English Premier League soccer giant Liverpool as fitness coach.



Troy Chaplin and Danyle Pearce became Port's first free agent losses.

Chaplin signed for Richmond while Pearce, who was involved in a sledging incident with Bulldog Will Minson in round 12, joined Fremantle. First-round draft pick Ben Jacobs also walked out on the club to nominate for the draft.

The Power restocked by trading for Angus Monfries from Essendon, Jack Hombsch from GWS, Lewis Stevenson from West Coast and Campbell Heath from Sydney. Former Demon Liam Jurrah trained at Alberton for two weeks in the hope of reviving his career but was overlooked.


Friday, December 7, Alberton.

Port's nightmare season went from bad to worse when its operating deficit was revealed as being a whopping $6.3 million before grants.

An The Advertiser investigation found the $4.1 million trading deficit the club initially reported did not include the AFL grant of $1 million for the transition to Adelaide Oval.

Then there was the previously unreported $1.2 million which is understood to have come from the AFL as the club struggled to pay bills.


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