In the lead up to the historic first Showdown at the redeveloped Adelaide Oval, Matthew Agius reflects on the careers of the Port Adelaide champions for whom gates, stands, structures and monuments have been named at the new home of South Australian football...

ASK Port Adelaide people who the club's greatest coach is and you're sure to get a myriad of responses.

There are two crucial coaching figures in Port Adelaide's long history.

One is Fos Williams - the man responsible for creating the values and culture of the club that led it to years of sustained success in the 1950s and beyond.

The other is John Cahill.

If Fos Williams was the master of the club and its coaching between 1950 through until 1973, then Cahill was the apprentice.

He would carve his own reputation, potentially even taking from Williams, as the master coach of South Australian football.

Cahill is a champion of Port Adelaide and one of its most treasured former stars.

As a player he featured in great teams. 

A member of the successful 1959, 1962, 1963 and 1965 flags, his first pennant was part of a record-breaking team and his last was in the final Port Adelaide side to lift the Thomas Seymour Hill Trophy at the Adelaide Oval.

Retiring as a player in 1973, Cahill immediately took on the senior coaching of the Magpies following the retirement of the legendary Williams.

Cahill went about the process of crafting a Port Adelaide side capable of winning premierships.

Star-studded lineups were made and, in 1977, Port’s long premiership drought was broken when the black and whites triumphed over Glenelg in the grand final at Football Park.

It would be the first of ten flags in the SANFL for Cahill and the establishment of two amazing periods of success for the club.

Cahill would coach the Magpies to three more flags between 1979 and 1981 and, at the end of the 1982 season, took up the offer to move interstate and coach Port Adelaide’s ‘sister’ club in Collingwood - the Victorian Magpies.

After two seasons with Collingwood, he would return to Adelaide and take up the senior position at West Adelaide before returning to Alberton for the 1988 season. 

It was then that he would go about establishing the club’s silver age of success.

The Magpies dominated proceedings for eight years - winning six flags under Cahill. 

His own apprentice - another Williams in Foster’s son Stephen - would continue that silver age with victory in 1996, 1998 and 1999.

There was no doubting Cahill’s ability to get the most out of his players.

The Williams-Cahill connection was highlighted again shortly after 1996.

The reason Cahill left the top job midway through that season was to focus on the club’s transition from the SANFL to the AFL, where he would coach the newly coined ‘Power’ for its historic first season in the national competition.

Under his stewardship, Port Adelaide would narrowly miss the AFL finals twice.

Then in 1999, Cahill’s other apprentice, Mark Williams, would assume control of the Power.

There was never any doubt of Cahill’s ability to get the best out of people - whether it be his players in the heat of battle or his apprentice coaches who would go on to achieve their own grand success.

Such is the esteem that he is held in within football circles that he has a room at the Adelaide Oval named after him - jointly shared with another Port Adelaide product and successful Fremantle and Crows player Andrew McLeod.

With a record that oozes success as both a coach and player, Cahill's place in Port Adelaide history is secure. 

To understand the esteem he is held in at Alberton, you only need to look at who the club's AFL best and fairest medal is named after. 

Few others have contributed so much to the club over such a long period of time and few are unlikely - either at Port Adelaide or elsewhere - to match his record as a senior coach. 

Visit on Friday when we profile Russell Ebert...

John Cahill record
SANFL Games played: 264 (1958-1973)
SANFL Games coached: 443 (1974-1982, 1988-1996, 2005)
SANFL Goals: 286
Captain: 1967-1973
SANFL Coach: 1974-1982,1988-1996,2005
AFL Coach: 1997-1998 (44 games)

South Australian Representative Matches: 29 games
South Australia captain: 1969, 1970
South Australia coach: 1989
South Australia State of Origin coach: 1991, 1995

Premierships: 1959, 1962, 1963, 1965 (as player), 1977, 1979-1981,1988-1990,1992,1994,1995 (as coach)
Port Adelaide Best and Fairest: 1966, 1968, 1970, 1973
Port Adelaide Leading goal kicker: 1973
All-Australian: 1969
Member of Port Adelaide Football Club’s Greatest Ever Team (Right wing)
Port Adelaide Life Member: 1967
SANFL Life Member: 1996
Port Adelaide Football Club Hall of Fame (1998)
South Australian Football Hall of Fame (2002)
Australian Football Hall of Fame (2002)