PORT ADELAIDE captain Tom Jonas has spoken of his disappointment in the way his side finished its season but expressed his pride with how it navigated the most challenging of campaigns.
Port’s season ended with a six-point loss to Richmond in Friday night’s Preliminary Final at Adelaide Oval in a low-scoring wet weather affair.
It was not the way Jonas had hoped the club’s remarkable campaign would end and he said it would drive the side to work even harder for next year.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the way we approached this year and what we achieved,” he told portadelaidefc.com.au.
“Obviously, we’re not satisfied with the way we finished – we exist to win premierships which is going to be our goal moving forward.
“Overall, the playing group, the support staff, the coaches and the fitness staff have sacrificed (so much) this year in what’s been a challenging year to get us to where we are. It’s incredible and commendable and I can’t wait to enjoy a beer with them and commiserate for a little while and then reflect and have a few laughs.
“We’ll refresh a bit and then come back bigger and better and eager to win in 2021.”
Jonas revealed his thoughts on the last few minutes when the Tigers repelled repeated Port Adelaide forward forays and the home side just could not find a shot on goal.
“I just wanted something to fall our way, someone clunk one, someone get one over the back or someone get a high tackle. We found a way all year, what Buttsy (Zak Butters) did two weeks ago, Robbie (Gray)’s goal after the siren showed incredible resilience and a bit of luck.
“It’s what you need and maybe it ran out tonight but hats off to Richmond for the way they played. They’re a champion side and showed it again tonight.”
The game was to be the last in the AFL for the retiring Brad Ebert, with a formal announcement from the club expected in the coming days, and ended the premiership dream of fellow retiree Justin Westhoff.
Jonas has been a strong leader in his first year in the number 1 guernsey but he was full of praise for the club’s other leaders, especially coach Ken Hinkley.
“He’s been the leader of it all – him, Keith (Thomas), (Michael) Vossy, they’ve set the bar pretty high for the expectations around the club and the way to go about things and I think our playing group has just jumped on,” Jonas said.
“They’ve understood what we’re about, what we’ve set out to achieve with a great mixture of youth and experience.
“It was disappointing not to send those (retiring) boys off that they deserve for what they’ve given up for this club but I’m just so proud but not finished yet.”
And while 2020 is done and dreams of a fairy-tale premiership in the club’s 150th anniversary season are over, Jonas issued a message to members about the team’s desire to show its appreciation for their support.
“We know they’re going to stick fat. I talked about the sacrifice we’ve made as playing group but there’s no greater sacrifice than what our members and supporters have made this year,” he explained.
“People doing it tough and hanging on to their memberships and not being able to come to the games, and even when they can, only getting to 25,000.
“We’re a community club, we’re a blue-collar club, a working-class club. It’s not just about who is in the locker room now, it’s about everyone out there and we can’t wait to do something special for them.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get our 150th year fairytale but maybe (we’ll get the) 151st.”