1990 SANFL Grand Final: The end of an era
In July 1990, the South Australian football landscape underwent a dramatic and permanent change when Port Adelaide, in defiance of the declared stance of the state controlling body, the SANFL, submitted a unilateral application to field a team in the AFL, a competition which, at the time, was undergoing a gradual transformation from a predominantly Victorian (albeit with considerable attention being bestowed on it from interstate) to a genuinely quasi-national concern. From Port Adelaide's perspective, the move was born of desperation, and was tantamount to a survival measure, as the club hierarchy was increasingly of the view that the club had, for many years, effectively been propping up an ailing local football infrastructure, an infrastructure which simultaneously was stifling the club's own development, and undermining and inhibiting its potential.
This view was certainly not shared by the majority of the state's football supporters, who responded with almost universal scorn and dismay, feelings implicitly echoed by the SANFL when, in a quick fire but nevertheless carefully calculated response, it applied to field a team of its own in the AFL. Such a move had, in truth, long been on the SANFL's agenda, but the SANFL would have preferred the luxury of deciding on the timing for itself. Port's decision to 'go it alone' in effect forced the SANFL's hand, but the fact that it was the SANFL's application which was ultimately successful did nothing to dull the feelings of bitterness and betrayal felt towards the Magpies by a large proportion of South Australia's football community.
Such feelings inevitably gave the 1990 SANFL grand final, which featured the arch villain of the piece in Port Adelaide, together with one of its most outspoken antagonists in Glenelg, of its something of an extra edge. However, whatever your perspective on its political backdrop, the actual game itself was one which evoked superlatives, as both teams produced football of the highest order, in a Football Park cauldron which simmered, and occasionally boiled over, with a rousing mix of tension, occasionally reckless aggression and spite.
Even leaving aside the controversies arising out of Port Adelaide's AFL bid the two protagonists in the 1990 SANFL grand final could look back on a long, and at times intensely bitter, rivalry. Glenelg's first ever flag, in 1934, had been at Port Adelaide's expense, while in recent times the sides had contested the premiership on three occasions, in 1977, 1981 and 1988, with the Magpies successful each time. In their premiership meetings in 1990, the teams had been evenly matched, Port's 20 point victory in round 12 being sandwiched between wins to the Tigers in round three (by 26 points) and the 2nd semi final (by 11 points). Both sides had finished the minor round well ahead of the chasing pack, and this superiority had been emphatically confirmed during the finals series, most notably of all during the previous weekend's preliminary final in which Port had put North Adelaide conclusively to the sword to the tune of 91 points. In that same match, however, the Magpies had lost key players in the shape of David Brown and Rohan Smith to injury, and these losses appeared to tip the scales very slightly in Glenelg's favour in the run up to the grand final.
Much attention during the game will be focused on Port Adelaide's robust full forward Scott Hodges (right), winner of the 1990 Magarey Medal, who goes into the match just 4 goals adrift of the all time record of 151, set by Sturt's Rick Davies in 1983.
On a glorious spring day in front of a sell-out crowd of 50,589 spectators, the Magpies' Russell Johnston won the toss and chose to kick to the southern end of Football Park which, according to Channel 9 commentator Graham Campbell was worth "three or four scoring shots". For the last time until Port Adelaide's elevation to AFL ranks in 1997, a South Australian football crowd was about to see the best two teams in the state go head to head.
12 mins Marshall collects the ball for the Bays at centre half back but is forced to handball waywardly under pressure. Abernethy reaches the loose ball first and quickly fires off a low trajectory handpass to Hutton, who is positioned right on the 50 metre line approximately 15 metres left of centre. Hutton handballs to Mahney, who is immediately wrapped up in a tackle but manages nevertheless to squeeze out a handball to Ginever whose quick, round-thecorner snapshot falls a couple of metres short but, fortunately for Port Adelaide, right into the waiting hands of Hodges. From point blank range the 1990 Magarey Medallist is never going to miss. Port Adelaide 1.5; Glenelg 0.2
14 mins Johnston, having been awarded a free kick just backward of centre, sends a wobbly, floating drop punt towards the true centre half forward position where Mahney, tumbling forward, marks on his chest before perfectly bisecting the uprights. Port Adelaide 2.5; Glenelg 0.2
15 mins From the ensuing centre bounce, Rod Jameson collects the ball and delivers a towering drop punt in the direction of John Fidge in the right forward pocket, but Fidge's opponent, Ben Harris, manages to effect a powerful spoil. Glenelg rover Mansell, however, is first to the ball, and, in the process of being tackled, just manages to feed off to Jameson, who has followed his original kick upfield. Jameson's hurried left foot snap from 35 metres out never gets more than a couple of metres off the ground but nevertheless somehow evades every Port defender before bouncing twice in the goal square and through for full points. Port Adelaide 2.5; Glenelg 1.2
18 mins Hallahan's low, spearing pass reaches Liptak midway between centre half forward and half forward left, and the Bay youngster, tumbling forward, just manages to grab the ball a matter of centimetres above the turf. His kick is true. Port Adelaide 2.5; Glenelg 2.2 Before play can be resumed, a sudden flare up, involving perhaps a dozen players, and in which Port's David Hynes and Wayne Mahney appear to feature prominently, breaks out near centre half forward for the Magpies, but the situation is quickly defused after the umpires award a free kick to Glenelg near the centre of the ground.
23 mins As Darren Smith is lining up for goal having marked some 45 metres out on the right half forward flank, Glenelg's Jameson floors Stephen Williams off the ball and Smith is promptly awarded a 50 metre penalty which brings him right up to the goal line. The result is inevitable, and the din from the Port fans deafening. Port Adelaide 3.5; Glenelg 2.2
26 mins Port Adelaide mop up at half back right as Rizonico extracts the ball from a pack and handballs to eventual Jack Oatey Medallist George Fiacchi who, with the rare luxury of several seconds in which to weigh up his options, makes a rare mistake by kicking across the face of goal and completely missing his chosen target in the shape of Richard Foster and instead planting the ball perfectly in the path of Glenelg's Brett Deane. With Foster bearing down on him, Deane handballs forward to Fidge whose stampeding run towards goal through heavy traffic is peremptorily halted by a head high tackle from Port's original culprit, George Fiacchi. From the ensuing free kick which sees him lining up for goal less than 20 metres out, directly in front, the solidly built Bay spearhead casually splits the centre. Port Adelaide 3.5; Glenelg 3.2
28 mins Hynes on left centre wing kicks long to centre half forward where Duthy successfully spoils Hodges from behind, only to see the ball bounce straight to Settre, who has just entered the fray from the interchange bench. Settre's initial attempt to score is blocked, but following up he manages to collect the ball again and, deep in the left forward pocket, makes perfect amends with a left foot snap that travels predominantly along the ground and through for a major score. Port Adelaide 4.5; Glenelg 3.2
30 mins Mansell tackles Foster near half forward right for the Tigers. The ball drops loose, and Mansell manages to collect it himself before sending a low centering kick towards the front edge of the goal square, where Fidge and Harris contest. The Bay full forward has too much body strength for the former Brisbane Bear, and manages simultaneously to mark and send his opponent crashing to the ground, before trotting into an open goal to reduce the arrears to 3 points. Port Adelaide 4.5; Glenelg 4.2
31 mins Glenelg, through the agency of Matthew Liptak, effect another clean centre clearance which again produces a goalmouth marking duel featuring Harris and Fidge. This time the Port man gets his right hand to the ball first, but Fidge has already unbalanced him and, as he falls to ground, the ball rolls down his arm, allowing Fidge to snatch it up and effortlessly register his third six-pointer of the term. Glenelg have hit the front for the first time in the match. Glenelg 5.2; Port Adelaide 4.5
With Glenelg very much in the ascendancy, and Port Adelaide hanging on desperately, the siren sounds a couple of minutes later with no addition to the score. The Bays have won the ball out of the centre on seven occasions compared to their opponents' 3, but around the ground the contest has been fairly even, with both sides tackling ferociously and maintaining a consistently high level of pressure.
QUARTER TIME: Glenelg 5.2 (32); Port Adelaide 4.5 (29)
During the quarter time interval, Channel 9 boundary rider Rick Davies observes that the wind direction has now changed, and appears to be favouring the northern end of Football Park. However, its strength has also declined somewhat, so that its impact on scoring is likely to be negligible.
18 mins After the second quarter has begun in much the same fashion as the first, with the defensive qualities of both sides paramount, Hodges registers the opening goal of the term from a free kick for 'in the back' awarded 35 metres from goal on the left had side, on an angle of 45 degrees. Port Adelaide 5.7; Glenelg 5.6
20 mins Hodges procures his 3rd goal of the game, bringing him to within one of the record, after marking unopposed 30 metres from goal directly in front. Port Adelaide 6.7; Glenelg 5.6
23 mins Tregenza collects a loose ball near the right centre wing boundary, adroitly skirts around the onrushing Symonds, and propels a carefully weighted centering kick towards the true centre half forward position where Mark Williams, under intense pressure, takes a juggling mark. Taking his time, Williams walks back, meticulously pulls up his socks, and calmly slots home the Magpies' 7th. Port Adelaide 7.7; Glenelg 5.6
24 mins In Port Adelaide's right forward pocket, Hodges crashes heavily to the ground after an aerial contest with Bartlett and Duthy. After receiving attention from the trainers, he staggers to his feet, but it is immediately obvious that he is in no fit state to continue, and he is half led, half carried from the arena to be replaced by Phelps. Is Davies' record safe?
25 mins Fidge sends a high, centering kick from deep in the right forward pocket to the front edge of the goal square where Murphy, tumbling forward, takes a fingertip mark from which he has no trouble converting. Port Adelaide 7.7; Glenelg 6.6
26 mins Hynes wins the tap at the ensuing centre bounce, and the ball is fielded by Abernethy who squeezes a kick towards centre half forward where it's collected by Ginever. With opposition players all around him, the gritty Magpie rover manages to pick out the one team mate in the vicinity, Adrian Settre, who is promptly slung to the ground by Scott Salisbury, but who nevertheless still manages to get boot to ball. The kick eludes everyone before bouncing 20 metres from goal and rolling onwards through the vacant goal square and over the line for full points. How the ball has managed to elude every Bay defender is a mystery. Is God a Portonian? Port Adelaide 8.7; Glenelg 6.6
28 mins Hutton's cumbersome looking left foot kick from deep in the left forward pocket reaches the teeth of the goal square before coming off hands to the waiting Settre. In one fluid movement, Settre, a couple of metres from goal and slightly to the left of the left goal post, maneuvers the ball to his left boot and propels it over the heads of a couple of Tiger defenders and through for a miraculous goal. With 3 majors in as many minutes, Port has has made an important and, with the benefits of hindsight, match-winning break. Port Adelaide 9.7; Glenelg 6.6
30 mins Hutton picks up the ball midway between centre and left centre wing and kicks 20 metres directly forward to the unmarked Stephen Williams who turns, ambles forward and, from a distance from goal of fully 60 metres, unleashes a prodigious drop punt that never deviates as its sails straight through the centre. Port Adelaide 10.7; Glenelg 6.6
31 mins As the half time siren sounds, Liptak marks on his chest 35 metres from goal in line with the right point post, but his kick floats away to the right for a minor score, thereby depriving Glenelg of a crucial morsel of comfort heading into the long break.
HALF TIME: Port Adelaide 10.7 (67); Glenelg 6.7 (43)
Port fans were relieved and gratified to see Scott Hodges, albeit with a heavily strapped left knee, lining up in his customary full forward position at the start of the 3rd term. However, Magpie skipper Russell Johnston, who it emerged had turned an ankle, did not re-appear. Gavin Wanganeen
5 mins Northeast spoils Liptak's attempt to mark on the 50 metre arc directly in front of the Glenelg goal. The ball bounces to Salisbury, who has time to run inside 50, steady onto his right foot, and effortlessly split the centre with a titanic drop punt. In the Channel 9 commentary box, Salisbury's former coach, Graham Campbell, expresses astonishment, remarking that he was unaware that the Bay back pocket man was capable of running so fast, or kicking so long. Port Adelaide 10.7; Glenelg 7.7
10 mins Salisbury picks up the ball at centre half back, but on this occasion he is caught flat footed by Wanganeen, whose tackle jolts the ball loose some 15 metres nearer to goal. Showing Salisbury a clean pair of heels, Wanganeen sprints forward, taps the ball ahead of himself once, and then gathers it up before arcing 'round onto his left foot and, from 25 metres out straight in front, prodding a low, purposeful drop punt right through the centre of the goals. Port Adelaide 11.8; Glenelg 7.8
12 mins From a boundary throw in on right centre wing for the Tigers, Melican taps the ball to Chigwidden who, despite being immediately gang tackled, is able to find his skipper McDermott with a handpass. McDermott has time to steady himself and look downfield for options. Spotting Fidge on a fast lead in the right forward pocket McDermott lofts the ball towards him and, despite Harris' uncompromising attempt to spoil, the behemoth-like Bay spearhead holds the mark. Close to 40 metres out on a tight angle, Fidge takes almost a minute to settle himself before trotting in and reducing the margin to 18 points. Port Adelaide 11.8; Glenelg 8.8
14 mins Hodges comes careering out from goal to meet the ball at centre half forward. Crashing through a pack of players, he scoops the ball up and feeds off to Ginever, whose quick, almost reflex handball finds Gavin Wanganeen running in towards goal. Wanganeen closes to within 35 metres before, with great deliberation, stabbing the ball over the head of Ross Gibbs in the goal square for a magical 6 pointer. Port Adelaide 12.8; Glenelg 8.8
18 mins Christie marks at half forward right for the Bays and promptly plays on with a low handball infield to Deane. The fair-haired rover's high left foot kick travels as far as the front edge of the goal square and is marked by Murphy, who manages to avoid the waiting pack by running in from the side at the last moment. With all the opposition players in the vicinity flat-footed, Murphy has the easiest of tasks to run on into an open goal and elicit a tumultuous roar from the Tiger hordes. Port Adelaide 12.8; Glenelg 9.9
Before play can resume, umpire Rick Kinnear is forced to leave the field with a leg injury; he is replaced by Laurie Argent.
23 mins From midway along the right boundary of the centre square Darren Smith sends a high, floating kick in the direction of centre half forward. The ball comes down rapidly, deceiving the waiting pack, but falling straight into the arms of the unmarked Stephen Williams. The future Magpie coach plays on quickly and, spotting Hodges on a lead just to the right of the goal square, pinpoints that player with a low, left foot drop punt. Despite strong pressure from Jameson, Hodges manages to get his right hand to the ball, tapping it into the air before diving headlong to mark securely on the chest. Having already missed 3 goal scoring opportunities of varying degrees of difficulty this term a goal is by no means assured, but Hodges, despite obviously still favouring his uninjured right leg, kicks cleanly through the ball to secure full points. Port Adelaide 13.9; Glenelg 9.9
29 mins Fidge's miss from a comparatively easy set shot for goal seconds before the three quarter time siren brings the Tigers to within 22 points of their rivals, but with Port Adelaide having last use of a strengthening breeze the prospects of a fight back appear remote.
THREE QUARTER TIME: Port Adelaide 13.9 (87); Glenelg 9.11 (65)
During the break between quarters Rick Davies, who has been listening to Glenelg coach Graham Cornes addressing his team, observes that the atmosphere in the Tiger camp appears downcast, almost as if the players have accepted that they are going to lose. Changing tack, Davies then goes on to proffer the hope that Scott Hodges can cap a marvellous season by breaking his own, 7 year old SANFL goal kicking record.
Meanwhile former Magpie champion Brian Cunningham, who has been eavesdropping at the Port Adelaide huddle, reports that John Cahill has instructed his players to boot the ball long at every opportunity, thereby capitalising on the strengthening breeze.
3 mins Tony Symonds, just forward of left centre wing for the Tigers, finds David Marshall with a low, 25 metre pass. Immediately after marking, the talented Bay centreman is brought clattering to earth by his direct opponent, Bruce Abernethy, whereupon the umpire awards a 50 metre penalty, bringing Marshall to within 20 metres of goal, almost directly in front. With his 16th kick of the afternoon, he makes no mistake. Port Adelaide 13.9; Glenelg 10.11
6 mins A quick Port Adelaide break-out from defence culminates in Settre finding Hodges at centre half forward, and the Magpie spearhead, who now appears to be moving a little more freely, has no trouble in claiming his 152nd goal of the season, and a new League record. Port Adelaide 14.9; Glenelg 10.11
9 mins Stephen Williams on Port Adelaide's left wing propels a probing 50 metre kick to just inside the 50 metre arc where it is met full on by a rampaging Scott Hodges, who simultaneously marks the ball on his chest, and sends opponent John Seebohm flying. From dead on 50 metres out and on a 45 degree angle to the left of goal Hodges gives no signs of any discomfort as he steers his kick effortlessly through the goals. Port Adelaide 15.10; Glenelg 10.11
13 mins Tregenza's high kick from half forward right to the front edge of the goal square is contested in the air by Hodges and Duthy and spins off hands behind them. Running in unattended, Darren Smith times his arrival perfectly to enable him to collect the ball and trot onwards into an open goal to claim the easiest 6 pointer of the match. Port Adelaide 16.10; Glenelg 10.11
15 mins Melican, who is 50 metres from the Bay goal, directly in front, collects Murphy's pass on the first bounce, spots Fidge on a lead 30 metres downfield, and picks him out perfectly with a low, left foot pass. Fidge catches the ball cleanly, but holds onto it for less than a second before having it punched away by a fast arriving Ben Harris. The umpire, however, adjudges that Fidge had sufficient control of the ball to be awarded the mark, and, from a distance of 25 metres slightly to the right of goal, the former Brisbane Bear coolly registers his 5th goal of the game, and his 124th of the year. Port Adelaide 16.10; Glenelg 11.11
22 mins Seebohm marks Northeast's wayward kick at centre half back and promptly feeds off to Duthy. The former Fitzroy defender gallops off through the centre corridor, bouncing the ball twice and then feinting to kick. The feint successfully invites the attempted smother, which Duthy adroitly sidesteps, before bouncing the ball a 3rd time and delivering a perfectly weighted pass to Christie, who marks 45 metres from goal, directly in front, and nonchalantly converts. Port Adelaide 16.11; Glenelg 12.13
25 mins Jameson delivers to half forward left for the Tigers, where Fidge and Harris contest the mark. Harris just manages to get a fist to the ball first before plummeting to ground, allowing Fidge to collect the loose ball, wheel 'round onto his right foot and, with Chigwidden providing the shepherd to impede the now recovered Harris, unleashing a prodigious drop punt which comes down either on, or just over, the goal line, where it's marked by Murphy. The goal umpire decides that the ball had been in play when marked (although slow motion TV replays appear to refute this), and so Murphy has the straightforward task of registering the Tigers' 13th goal. Port Adelaide 16.11; Glenelg 13.13
With some five minutes of playing time still remaining, Glenelg have every chance to stage a comeback. However, Port Adelaide prove to be too professional, deliberately slowing the play down and playing possession football to limit their opponents' scoring opportunities, before ultimately running out winners by 15 points.
FINAL SCORE: Port Adelaide 16.12 (108); Glenelg 13.15 (93)
Statistics show that Glenelg won more hit-outs (45 to 29), had more of the ball (306 disposals to 270) and were more often favoured by the umpires (22 frees to 16). However, many of Glenelg's possessions were achieved under intense pressure, resulting in wayward delivery, while the Magpies - in quintessential Port style - were more direct, and used the ball to significantly greater effect.
The 1990 SANFL grand final was a game which, foreshadowing the Adelaide-Port Adelaide 'showdowns' of seasons to come, effectively divided the sport-loving population of the state: you were either a Port supporter, or you weren't; there was - and is - no middle ground. Whatever the rights and wrongs of Port Adelaide's aborted attempt to gain access to Australian football's elite competition, the fall-out from the affair has fuelled and reinforced an ongoing sense of intense rivalry, of 'us and them', which is arguably the essence of good, meaningful, high quality competitive sport.
Graham Cornes (Glenelg): "The commitment and effort in the last quarter was what we wanted - the level in the previous three was not there at all. If anyone was going to be waging a campaign out there today it should have been us. With the events of the past few months and the feeling of the other 9 clubs behind us, it should have motivated us sufficiently. In those 5 or 10 minutes of the game when it really counted, Port showed how it should have been done."
John Cahill (Port Adelaide): "That was a great effort. There was a lot of pressure on us with injuries before and during the game. We had some bad injuries during the game, which worried us because we were down to 16 fit men at half-time. Apart from the injuries to Johnston and Hodges, Ginever had concussion and Mahney had a bad hamstring. But they showed tremendous fighting qualities and that's what Port Adelaide is all about - the commitment of the players, courage and desperation. I thought they gave everything they could. Some of them were just running on memory at the finish. Hynes did a great job in ruck. He responds to responsibility and he just had it put on to him that he had to do it and I give him full credit. He paced himself for the full game and he did it well. At half time I thought Hodges was down and out but he's got a lot of courage and he just put a bandage on it (the knee) and went back on."
|Port Adelaide||4.5||10.7||13.9||16.12 (108)|
Port Adelaide: Hynes, M.Williams, Phillips, Fiacchi, Tregenza, Hodges
Glenelg: Seebohm, Jameson, Bartlett, Fidge, Marshall, Gibbs
Port Adelaide: Hodges 6; Settre 3; D.Smith, Wanganeen 2; Mahney, M.Williams, S.Williams
Glenelg: Fidge 5; Murphy 3; Christie, Jameson, Liptak, Marshall, Salisbury
JACK OATEY MEDAL (best on ground): George Fiacchi (Port Adelaide)
ATTENDANCE: 50,589 at Football Park
1. Both coaches' comments were quoted in 'Football Times', volume 15 number 28, 11/10/90, page 12. Cornes' traditional post-match visit to the Port Adelaide changing rooms evoked a measure of controversy when he used the occasion as a vehicle for his frustrations, expressing sour grapes over the loss, and prompting several of the assembled Magpies to suggest, in somewhat colourful language, that he might feel happier in different surroundings.