Contributed by: Brett NortheyPort Adelaide, in their eighth season in the Australian Football League, have claimed their first AFL Premiership, powering away from Brisbane in the second half of the 2004 Grand Final. Many considered both Port and Brisbane lucky to squeeze into the final, with narrow wins over St Kilda and Geelong, respectively. There was no such doubt at the final siren last Saturday at the MCG, with Port winning comfortably.
The Power burst out of the blocks to build an early lead, only to have Brisbane control the play in the second quarter. At half time, the Power had slipped behind by a solitary point. Although Brisbane started the Grand Final as warm favourites, many pundits thought Port would run over the top of them in the last quarter if the Power were close at three quarter time. So it would prove. The Queensland based Lions pulled away in the third term, but a late flurry of goals gave Port a 17 point advantage at the final break. Brisbane looked tired and vulnerable and their South Australian opponent piled on the goals, running away to a convincing 40 point win.
Where to now for Brisbane? Their recent premiership wins have been recognised as the greatest run in AFL history. When Adelaide were the first to win back-to-back flags in 1997/98 commentators such as Tim Watson, Dennis Cometti and Bruce McAvaney said it was an unmatched feat - something that was not supposed to happen in the national league, with intense competition and a draft system preventing dominant sides from emerging. Interestingly Brisbane finished bottom in 1998. Three years on, and in an even more competitive era, the Lions began their three year reign, something that may not be surpassed for decades. At times this year there has even been talk that Brisbane could win four or five in a row, but suddenly in defeat, questions are being raised about when the club can hope to get back to the top. It is expected that at least two or three of their best 18 will retire, and several more may also hang up their boots. They may also be missing several players for the start of 2005 courtesy of the tribunal. It may just be that Brisbane will slip down the ladder in 2005.
Port Adelaide also have a relatively old list, but having broken through for their first AFL premiership, it would not surprise to see them rise again next year. A strong motivating factor may be to win with their captain Primus and key onballer Francou in the side. Both missed the premiership with major knee injuries. That is for next year. For now, celebrations are in full swing at Alberton in Adelaide's port region, the spiritual home of a club that has dominated football in South Australia for long periods over the past 120 years, and has now transferred some of that success to the national stage. They become the 10th club to win an AFL flag since the old Victorian Football League was expanded and renamed to form the national competition, in 1990.
Final scores were Port Adelaide 17.11 (113) defeated Brisbane Lions 10.13 (73), by 40 points, in front of a crowd of 77,671 at the MCG (reduced capacity whilst undergoing improvements for the 2006 Commonwealth Games). All the Grand Final details can be found on the AFL website.
A final note to our non-Australian readers. It is not surprising that the AFL's pre-game entertainment has caused a stir around the world. Most Australian viewers would have recognised the singing act of "Kath and Kim" as a tongue-in-cheek, send up performance. Unfortunately people not familiar with the comedy duo took it at face value and thought they were watching a genuine Australian act. So do not think that was Australia's finest musical group - it was just an Aussie send up!
World Footy News