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Footy Park Flashbacks #3: Showdown I, Port Adelaide v Adelaide Crows 1997

Matthew Agius  August 31, 2013 4:10 PM

PTV: Footy Park Flashbacks - Top 3 Watch the top three moments at AAMI Stadium as shown on the superscreens before the Round 23 game against Carlton.
Vice-captain Brayden Lyle lifts the first Showdown trophy at Football Park in lieu of the injured captain Gavin Wanganeen.

Vice-captain Brayden Lyle lifts the first Showdown trophy at Football Park in lieu of the injured captain Gavin Wanganeen.

At number three in our Footy Park Flashbacks fan poll is Port Adelaide's second-ever win in the AFL when it prevailed over the Adelaide Crows in the inaugural South Australian derby in the national competition.

Enmity, thy name is Showdown.

Playing its first AFL game in 1997 was no mean achievement for Port Adelaide.

It had fought to enter the expanded Victorian Football League in 1990 before being cruelly denied by court injunctions by the rest of the SANFL.

It continued to fight for the second South Australian licence when, after the 1994 SANFL Grand Final victory, the AFL's administration saw sense and worked with the club to ensure its transition to national football.

But in the intervening years, another team had built its supporter base in South Australia as the first AFL team from the state.

That support was built on the hatred for Port Adelaide sustained over many years by supporters of the other eight state league clubs.

The Adelaide Crows had billed themselves as a team for South Australia.

When Port played its first AFL game in 1997, it was as a club that stood for over 125 years of tradition, community and, now, rebellion.

The Power wasn't rated to win a game in its first year. It put paid to that by beating Geelong at Football Park in just its third home-and-away game.

Against a Crows team with six seasons of AFL experience behind it, the Port Adelaide Football Club was again rated at long odds.

For years in the SANFL, the club had taught valuable lessons in football - particularly that an underdog Port Adelaide could never be written off.

It brought that lesson to the national stage when, on Sunday 20 April 1997, it won the match that no supporter in South Australia wanted to lose.

In a high-pressure game in a Football Park cauldron filled to the brim with Crows fans, the Power kicked the first goal through a young Michael Wilson and settled early to open a slender five-point lead.

The Power had been hit early by the loss of inspirational captain Gavin Wanganeen to an ankle injury.

Port controlled proceedings in the second and third terms with Scott Cummings having a day out in front of goals (and frustrating Adelaide's Rod Jameson into a punchup in the forward pocket).

Fabian Francis left the ground with a knee injury in the second quarter though, and Tom Carr had broken ribs too boot - leaving Port nursing just 18 players and no interchange bench.

Leading by three goals at the long break and by 33 points at three-quarter-time, it looked as though Port had comfortably accounted for the favourites.

A late Crows surge however made the result increasingly uncertain as time ticked away in the fourth quarter.

It was to no avail though and Port hung on to clinch an 11-point win, and bragging rights in the city of Adelaide.

Other Footy Park Flashbacks
#4 Grand Final, 1977: Port Adelaide def Glenelg
#5 Round 5, 2013: Port Adelaide def West Coast Eagles
#6 Round 22, 2002: Port Adelaide def Brisbane Lions
#7 Grand Final, 1994: Port Adelaide def Woodville-West Torrens
#8 Round 8, 2012: Port Adelaide def North Melbourne
#9 Grand Final, 1990: Port Adelaide def Glenelg
#10 Round 3, 1997: Port Adelaide def Geelong
#10-#20 Footy Park Flashbacks bottom ten

FINAL SCOREBOARD
PORT ADELAIDE            1.6    5.10  9.14  11.17  (83)
ADELAIDE CROWS        1.1    3.4    5.5    11.6    (72)

Goals: S. Cummings 4, S. Breuer, I. Downsborough 2, J. Francou, M. Wilson, P. Burgoyne
Best: B. Lyle, S. Bond, M. Wilson, D. Dickie, S. Cummings

Captain: G. Wanganeen
Coach: J. Cahill

Crowd: 47,256