"We are an anywhere, anyone, any time team."

Ross Lyon's mantra for his Fremantle team - just before the Dockers in 2013 were asked to play (and win) an away qualifying final against Geelong at the Cats' fortress at Kardinia Park - echoes much louder across the AFL today.

As the AFL puts the latest touches to the most battered and rebuilt fixture in the league's history, the test on coaches, players and teams to adapt anywhere, against any opponent and in any timeslot will be at its toughest from any era.

"Home" could be a venue thousands of kilometres from home. Who gets top billing on the Metricon Stadium scoreboards and home-field rights when West Coast and Port Adelaide step out of the Gold Coast hubs to play?

More likely than not for the rest of the AFL season, there will be no crowd offering that motivational stimulant to have the players' adrenaline kick in. Gone is the roar of affirmation from the crowd, particularly in Perth, that influences umpires, particularly on tight calls. And in empty stadia, some coaches will not need a runner while their bark echoes against the empty seats.

02:02 Mins
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Footy is back! | PTV

"We're back, baby!"

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It is far from ideal. But with the AFL's determination to "find a way" during the COVID-19 pandemic, what must be done to have the game resume after a three-month halt will be done.

Such a backdrop to how the next 144 home-and-away games will unfold - with a fixture drawn up in four or six-week blocks - makes Season 2020 an exceptional race to the premiership. If there is to be an asterisk put against the eventual premier, it should be to acknowledge the champion team has dealt best with the unexpected ... and lived the Lyon theme of "anywhere, anyone, any time".

The asterisk should stand as a badge of honour for the team that adjusts best this season.

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley says there will be the need for greater flexibility in working through the new fixture that is expected next week.

"Usually we talk about flexibility in the way a team plays, the game style," Hinkley said. "Now we also need flexibility in how you get to the game - there are bigger issues in preparing the team, not just for the upcoming match. This will be more critical if the fixture serves up more five and six-day breaks.

"It will test how you go from a team mentality in Australian football to working the full squad (as noted in European football with games on short breaks while clubs are based in 'hubs' for tournament group matches or constant travel between domestic and international competitions).

"It is all about working with the whole group, so we need more flexibility than ever before."

03:54 Mins
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Hamish Hartlett interview | PTV

We speak with Hamish Hartlett after the team's first week back at training.

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As for the asterisk, Hinkley is bewildered how such a theme could ever be put against this year's premiership winner.

"In a year when you are facing challenges never before seen, it will be tougher than ever to win the premiership," Hinkley said. "Every premiership is tough to win - and every winner is worthy of the title. This year's premiership side certainly will earn the right more than ever before because of the extraordinary challenges being put before all 18 teams.

"It will go down as one of the greatest premiership triumphs ever because this season is building into the most-difficult, most-challenging, most-demanding season ever with unique conditions seen in our game - and our lives.

"An asterisk? Why would anyone even bother thinking such a thing?"

Still uncertain this season is when and how often Port Adelaide will play at home at Adelaide Oval where the regular 22-round home-and-away fixture would keep the club in Adelaide for 12 games (10 with interstate rivals and two Showdowns with Adelaide).

Home and away suddenly gets a new meaning, particularly with a non-Victorian hub on the Gold Coast where the SA and WA-based AFL teams would join Brisbane and Gold Coast in Queensland.

01:27 Mins
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Miles Bergman interview | PTV

We speak with Miles Bergman after the team's first week back on the training track.

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Port Adelaide has for much of the past decade been thrown the "alternative" fixture to venues away from traditional AFL hotbeds. Usually for commercial rather than football reasons, too. Greater Western Sydney has called Port Adelaide to its second home in Canberra; the Western Bulldogs to Ballarat and, as was to have been the case by the original AFL fixture today, Hawthorn wanted to play Port Adelaide at its Tasmanian "home" of York Park in Launceston.

Even Port Adelaide has stretched the cord from Alberton and Adelaide Oval - to Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai in China since 2017.

In AFL company since its national league induction in 1997, Port Adelaide has played for premiership points at 21 venues - five of which have been removed from the AFL grid (Football Park in Adelaide, the WACA Ground and Subiaco Oval in Perth and AFL Park and Princes Park in suburban Melbourne at Waverley and Carlton respectively).

Being on the road for its first impressions is very much Port Adelaide's story in its 150 years. The club's first match in 1870 was in Adelaide's north parklands against Young Australian; its first SA Football Association premiership game in 1877 was at Kensington Oval against Kensington; its first match for AFL premiership points in 1997 was at the MCG against Collingwood.

Of the 18 venues where Port Adelaide has been called to visit as the away team, the club's record is ground-by-ground: 

BELLERIVE OVAL, Hobart: 0-1 (with 10-point loss to North Melbourne in May, 2013 when senior coach Ken Hinkley was unable to travel with a back complaint, leaving senior assistant Alan Richardson in charge in Tasmania).

CARRARA, Gold Coast: 6-0, all against Gold Coast.

DOCKLANDS, Melbourne: 21-33 with Port Adelaide having the honour of opening the game's first indoor venue with the retractable roof against Essendon in 2000. Port Adelaide has played eight clubs at the Docklands with these records:  Carlton, 2-4; Collingwood, 0-5; Essendon, 7-8; Hawthorn 1-0; North Melbourne, 4-7; Richmond 2-2; St Kilda 3-3 and Western Bulldogs, 2-4.

Port Adelaide's only finals appearance at the Docklands was in 2005 with a commanding 77-point win against North Melbourne in an elimination final.

In non-premiership football, Port Adelaide successfully defended its pre-season/night title by beating Richmond in the Cup final at the Docklands in 2001.

Port Adelaide have twice clashed with the Bulldogs in Ballarat.

EUREKA STADIUM, Ballarat: 2-0, both matches against the Western Bulldogs in the past two seasons.

GABBA, Brisbane: 6-2-10, starting with consecutive draws against Brisbane in 1997 and 1998. The 18 matches includes two finals against Brisbane - both lost by Port Adelaide - during the clubs' epic duels between 2001-2004.

KARDINIA PARK, Geelong: 2-12, with the first win in 2007 being the most memorable. Geelong had put together a 15-game winning streak at the Cattery that ended with Port Adelaide captain Dom Cassisi's winning goal in the final minutes of a match that sadly was not the grand final preview many pre-empted.

Port Adelaide enter the field at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the club's first AFL game in 1997.

MCG: 20-1-26. Port Adelaide has played eight of the 10 Victorian-based club's at the G (only St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs are missing from the list). The count against the rest is - 3-8 against the original tenant of Melbourne; 2-1-3 with Richmond; 6-5 against Collingwood; 2-1 with Carlton; 4-4 against Hawthorn; 0-2 with Geelong with both matches as finals; 1-2 against North Melbourne and 1-1 with Essendon.

Port Adelaide has played seven finals at the MCG with a 2-5 count.

Of course, the club's greatest win at the G was from when the venue was perfectly neutral in the premiership battle against Brisbane -  the first non-Victorian grand final in 2004.

MANUKA OVAL, Canberra: 1-5 with a 0-3 record against North Melbourne (1998-2005) and 1-2 against Greater Western Sydney (since 2014).

Jarrad Schofield copes with the conditions during a clash with the Bulldogs in Darwin in 2004.

MARRARA OVAL, Darwin: 4-6 against three opponents - 1-0 v Richmond; 1-2 against Melbourne and 2-4 against the Western Bulldogs.

PERTH STADIUM: 1-3 with a 0-2 record against Fremantle and a 1-1 count on West Coast including the AFL's first Good Friday match played outside Victoria.

PRINCES PARK, Melbourne: 4-4 with three opponents - 3-1 against the true home team of Carlton; 1-1 against the Western Bulldogs and 0-1 against North Melbourne.

SCG: 5-12 but not all against Sydney. There was the game against North Melbourne - when the inner Melbourne club was branded as the "northern Kangaroos" and looking at the NSW market - in 2000 that ended in a 17-point defeat.

Warren Tredrea celebrated his 250th AFL game with a win over West Coast at Subiaco Oval in 2010.

SUBIACO OVAL, Perth: 15-15. The count will forever stand at 8-6 against West Coast and 7-9 with Fremantle.

Remarkably, considering the road trip to Perth is considered one of the toughest on the AFL fixture, Port Adelaide had a five-game winning streak at Subiaco from 2000 to 2002 with three matches ending to convincing margins of 71, 84 and 92 points.

There was one finals call to Perth - and a stirring result with Port Adelaide overcoming a four-goal deficit to Fremantle to win the semi-final by 22 points in 2014.

SYDNEY SHOWGROUNDS: 1-1 against Greater Western Sydney.

The picturesque landscape of Alice Springs proved a beautiful backdrop to three Port Adelaide wins.

TRAEGER PARK, Alice Springs: 3-0, all against Melbourne.

WACA Ground, Perth: 1-1, all against Fremantle in rounds 17 of 1999 (seven-point win) and 2000 (18-point loss).

WAVERLEY PARK, Melbourne: 1-4, with a 1-1 count against Hawthorn and three losses to St Kilda.

YORK PARK, Launceston: 5-5, with a 3-1 count against St Kilda (the one loss being by four points in 2006 when Daniel Motlop had the last kick to win the match); and 2-4 against Hawthorn.

All up, the count is 239 games on the road for 98 wins, three draws and 138 losses with perfect 11-match record on the Gold Coast, in Alice Springs and at Ballarat.

Of the other 38 "away" games in the AFL since 1997, Port Adelaide has the perfect three at Shanghai against Gold Coast and St Kilda and the never-to-change 19-16 count against Adelaide at Football Park.

All these statistics do get twisted when the "home-and-away" season - the one like no other - resumes on Thursday, June 18.


(the little stuff that counts most)

AFL fixture 2020 version 1 (with 22 home-and-away rounds) put Port Adelaide against Hawthorn at the Hawks' Tasmanian fly in-fly out base in Launceston today.

Port Adelaide's record against the Hawks:

Overall: Played 35. Port Adelaide won 19, Hawthorn won 16.

Total scored: Port Adelaide 3340, Hawthorn 3182.

By venues: At Football Park (Port Adelaide won 8, lost 6); at Adelaide Oval (3-1); at Waverley Park (1-1); at the MCG (4-4); at the Docklands (1-0); at York Park, Launceston (2-4).

By states: In SA (Port Adelaide won 11, lost 7); in Victoria (6-5); in Tasmania (2-4).


Six memorable Port Adelaide-Hawthorn clashes

05:40 Mins
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All The Goals - Round 4, 2015 v Hawthorn

All The Goals from Port Adelaide's Round 4 clash with Hawthorn from Adelaide Oval.

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1) Round 4, 2015. Port Adelaide 15.9 (99) d Hawthorn 13.13 (91) at Adelaide Oval.

Saturday night at Adelaide Oval for the preliminary final rematch that played to all the themes Port Adelaide would have preferred six months earlier at the MCG. This time Port Adelaide had its lightning start count to the maximum on the scoreboard - 8.2 at quarter-time for a 42-point lead with key forward Jay Schulz kicking three goals. At three quarter-time it was 98-57 in Port Adelaide's favour, but the match was far from done. Hawthorn held Port Adelaide scoreless until Matt White's behind in the 28th minute ended the Hawks' momentum rush - and put the margin at eight points with another three minutes to endure.

00:00 Mins
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PTV: Hawthorn v Port Adelaide Last 2 minutes - PF, 2014

The last 2 minutes of the Preliminary Final clash between The Power and The Hawks.

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2) Preliminary final, 2014. Hawthorn 15.7 (97) d Port Adelaide 13.16 (94) at the MCG.

Many will wonder what might have been for Port Adelaide in 2014 when Ken Hinkley's team did live up to the promise of never, ever giving up. Before this dramatic preliminary final at the MCG, Port Adelaide completely pushed aside Richmond (while wearing the bars) in the first AFL final at Adelaide Oval. The follow-up semi-final against Fremantle at Subiaco Oval in Perth highlighted Port Adelaide's fighting spirit after a false start had the team 24 points down at half-time. But what might have been had Port Adelaide kicked straight rather than put 3.9 on the scoreboard at quarter-time in the Saturday twilight preliminary final at the MCG? And what of the contentious moments in the last quarter when Port Adelaide came hard at Hawthorn that led by 23 points at three quarter-time? Hawthorn did not score after the 13th minute when the scoreboard read 97-68 in the premier's favour. Port Adelaide scored four goals in nine minutes to make it a four-point game with four minutes to play ... those four heart-stopping minutes are long to be remembered for Andrew Moore's bold kick from a pocket crossing the goal face in the final seconds ... and long to be debated on whether Brad Ebert should have had a free kick on the final play.

3) Round 18, 2010. Port Adelaide 13.14 (92) d Hawthorn 12.12 (84) at Football Park.

In the backdrop was Port Adelaide under a caretaker coach with former captain Matthew Primus replacing premiership coach Mark Williams. After losing nine consecutive matches, Port Adelaide put together back-to-back wins at Football, Park for the first time in three months by first knocking Adelaide's finals hopes into disarray by winning Showdown XXIX by 19 points - and backing upside days later by upsetting the finals-bound Hawthorn by eight points with a strong last-quarter rush. Hawthorn led by six points on Jarryd Roughead's goal in the 10th minute and was over-run while Port Adelaide scored 2.4 with no reply in the last 15 minutes.

00:00 Mins
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PTV: Final two mins Power v Hawks R20, 2007 - Friday Flashback

Watch the final two minutes of the Power's dramatic, last-gasp win over the Hawks in Round 20, 2007

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4) Round 20, 2007. Port Adelaide 12.15 (87) d Hawthorn 12.10 (82) at York Park, Launceston.

It was almost the Hollywood script for Port Adelaide forward Daniel Motlop. Almost. A year earlier, Motlop missed a set-shot opportunity after the siren to leave Port Adelaide short of victory against St Kilda at York Park. This time, Motlop scored the goal to put Port Adelaide within a point of Hawthorn with less than two minutes of real time to play out. Brett Ebert secured the win with his lone goal of the match 90 seconds later.

5) Round 2, 1998. Port Adelaide 17.10 (112) d Hawthorn 10.7 (67) at Waverley Park.

This game marked Port Adelaide's first win against Hawthorn - and only win at the now defunct AFL Park at Waverley. Full forward Scott Cummings scored from all of his eight kicks - 7.1 in total. Ruckman-forward Brendon Lade, in his 24th AFL match, signalled his prowess as a reliable goalkicker with his four straight.

00:00 Mins
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Memory Bank: Round 3, 2003 - PTV

Port Adelaide beats the Hawks at Footy Park

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6) Round 18, 2003. Port Adelaide 12.12 (84) d Hawthorn 11.14 (80) at MCG.

It was the third time Port Adelaide met Hawthorn at the MCG - and triumph No.2 in a four-game winning streak against the Hawks at the G. The match remains Port Adelaide's narrowest victory margin against the Hawks - four points with Byron Pickett scoring the winning goal in the 28th minute of the last term in which Port Adelaide had given up the lead that was 18 points to its favour after Jarrad Schofield had scored a goal in the ninth minute.