Oliver Wines in the Williams Stand at Alberton Oval
You’ve just got to look around the rooms at some of the guys who’ve been here for decades and listen to their stories to realise how good the club really is for the people of this city.
Tony and Jane Wines lost two children to the full time workforce on November 26.
While daughter Maddie was scooped up by the Bendigo Advertiser, their son Oliver found himself walking through the doorways of Alberton Oval for his first introduction to Australia’s most successful senior football club.
Closing one chapter of his life with the completion of his high school studies, Wines had taken his first steps towards what he hopes will be a long and fruitful journey as an elite footballer at Port Adelaide.
“To be honest it was just a huge relief off my shoulders,” Wines told portadelaidefc.com.au on being selected by the Power.
“To be picked up by the Power after three months playing no football is really pleasing and I’m glad Port gave me an opportunity to be part of their football club.
“Mum and Dad lost two kids with us both starting our first full-time jobs but it’s pretty special that we both started out on the same day!”
Wines’ football journey starts back in Echuca on the Murray River where he grew up running around for the Moama junior football club.
It was there that he first donned the number 16 that he has worn in every team since playing under 12s, including now at the Power.
From there he worked his way through the typical pathway of any aspiring Victorian footballer and went on to represent the state in the Victoria Country U18 side in last year's national championships.
He also pulled on the Bendigo Pioneers jumper in the TAC Cup every other week as he learned his craft in the elite Victorian underage competition.
It was at Bendigo that Wines was crafted into a draft candidate.
Top ten selections don’t get drafted on skill and athleticism alone.
They must have the highest standard of professionalism about them and that is what Wines said his time at Bendigo taught him.
“One of the big things we particularly focused on was professionalism,” explains Wines.
“Learning the standards you need to meet to survive at the elite level.
“I really stepped up in my recovery and preparation before training and in games for Bendigo and I think it’s held me in good stead throughout the TAC Cup and set me up for my senior career at Port Adelaide.”
But while a high level of professionalism can refine the edges of raw talent, an AFL footballer is nothing without his ability.
That is something Wines presented on the field as a strong inside midfielder for Bendigo and Vic Country.
A quick glance over his highlights reel from the national championships shows a gutsy and versatile inside midfielder with a powerful tackle not dissimilar to the brute strength Port Adelaide used to dominate the SANFL throughout its history.
And you could be forgiven for thinking broad-shouldered Wines was a typical small midfielder when you see the way he attacks the ball and the player with ferocity.
But pushing almost 190cm, Wines has both height and bulk on his side.
It’s what he says has helped him carve out a unique playing style as a big “in-and-under” midfielder.
“I don’t think I’ll change my game style, that’s how I’ve always played my football,” says Wines.
“I think it can add another dimension to teams I play with and I’m looking forward to doing that with Port Adelaide.
“I think there’s always a place for that bigger midfielder who can feed the ball out to the runners.”
But Wines is grounded in his approach to football. He doesn’t expect the assumption of a first round draft pick having a first round debut to be the case for him, nor is he coming to Alberton expecting an easy ride.
He knows his weaknesses and knows what he needs to fix and what he wants to develop if he is to make the big time.
“My outside game,” states Wines - categorically.
“If I improve it and work to get more possessions I can have a greater impact on the game.”
“I’ve also been working a lot on my spread from contests so I can pick up those uncontested marks and possessions and have that impact.”
“My skills: I want to have an elite kick and break the lines with it.
“These things take work so I’ll be working a lot to hone and improve.”
There are sacrifices on the road to becoming an AFL player and Wines is no different to any other footballer in making them.
Few young footballers are lucky enough to stay in their home state and country footballers particularly must be willing to suffer the tyranny of distance in the pursuit of their ambitions.
Wines is no different in that regard, but he and his family have embraced the use of social media to keep in touch across the almost 700km expanse between his hometown and Alberton Oval.
“It’s a way of keeping in contact and a bit of friendly banter between all of us,” explains Wines.
But with his parents having already visited him at Port Adelaide, and their voices only a phone call away, Wines says his settlement in South Australia has been eased through knowledge of their support for him.
“I love hearing mum and dad’s voice and it’s quite reassuring to just hear them there and have all their support.”
“I daresay they’ve planned a few trips over here already and I’m sure I’ll see them a fair bit.”
Wines settlement into life in South Australia will be aided by the counsel of a list laced with country players from interstate.
With tremendous support from his family and teammates, Wines has his sights set on greatness and wants to embrace the “Port Adelaide way.”
“I think it’ll slowly come,” he says.
“I know how important the club is to footy and how rich the culture around it is and how long it goes back.
“You’ve just got to look around the rooms at some of the guys who’ve been here for decades and listen to their stories to just realise how good the club really is for the people of this city.”
He won’t have to wait long to have the club’s culture drummed into him. Should he play even one game of SANFL football in 2013, the old guard of Port Adelaide supporters on the outer at Alberton Oval will surely hammer home what it means to play for the club.
Selected by the Magpies in the SANFL mini draft, Wines will pull on the famous prison bar guernsey when not playing for the Power.
He is one of a fortunate few to be aligned to the club’s SANFL division in the state league.
But all things going to plan, Wines will spend as much time as possible in the black, white and teal.
Having drawn the praise of the Power’s high performance manager Darren Burgess along with his fellow draftees, he is hoping the "step up" in training intensity will pay off in 2013.
“So far the players have been very welcoming and very accommodating and I’ve enjoyed the trainings so far,” said Wines.
“It’s a step up and it’s been difficult at times.
“All the conditioning staff have been monitoring the loads of us first year players so we don’t burn out.
“I’ve been working closely with the development coaches and asking them questions when I need help.
“But I’m just loving the lifestyle of being an AFL footballer at Port Adelaide.”
Stay tuned to portadelaidefc.com.au for the rest of our new player features in the lead up to the NAB Cup in February.