Every football fan has a favourite player right? For whatever reason, they are drawn to them. Whether it be their style of play, their footballing ability, or simply just because they have that bit of aggression in them, fans love players for all different reasons.
I have compiled my top five favourite Port Adelaide AFL players of all time and while there are a host of players I could have put in, these are the five I decided to go with.
5. Gavin Wanganeen
“The Rubber Man” returned to his Port Adelaide roots in 1997 and he was Port’s captain for their first ever AFL season. At the end of the 2000 season, “Wangas” gave up his captaincy and it worked wonders for his football. In 2003 he came second in the Brownlow medal counting and a year later played a crucial part in Port’s premiership win over Brisbane kicking four goals.
He was the first aboriginal player to reach the 300 game mark and it shows just how highly regarded he is at Alberton, is that the best under/21 player is now named the Gavin Wanganeen Medal. Likely to be most people’s No.1 but he is an all time great and my fifth favourite player.
4. Robbie Gray
Gray was the 55th pick in the 2006 draft and boy oh boy what a selection he turned out to be, 232 games so far along with 331 goals putting him second only behind Power great Warren Tredrea who amassed 549 in his decorated career.
Despite having a knee reconstruction early in his career Robbie has more than bounced back. With a host of younger players in Connor Rozee and Zak Butters taking on a bigger role, Gray is no longer needed to singlehandedly win games for Port. His football IQ is second to none and the things he can do on a football field are rarely matched. A smooth mover, silky with ball in hand, how can you not love the type of footballer he is.
My favourite memory is Robbie kicking six goals in showdown 44, five of which came in a stunning third-quarter blitz to see Port over the line. His list of achievements is impressive too, a 4x All Australian, five showdowns medals, and twice has been named Port Adelaide’s leading goalkicker in 2011 and 2018.
A classy player and as smart as they come, Gray comes in at 4.
3. Chad Cornes
How could you not love Chad? Well for some people quite easily. He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, his intensity and ability to play numerous positions on-field, coupled with his hatred of the Crows during showdowns, he embodied everything you could want in a Port Adelaide player.
Chad played 239 games for Port kicking 175 goals during his time at Alberton. He began as a forward and formed a formidable partnership with Warren Tredrea between 2000 and 2003 while Port we at the top of their game, before being moved to centre half-back in 2004 by Mark Williams which proved to be a masterstroke.
Cornes won All Australian honors that year and also in 2007 as one of the most dominating centre half-backs in the competition and in my mind during the Powers dominance in the early 2000’s he was the best key defender in the league.
A player I loved watching especially during showdowns and a Power great, “The Chad” comes in at 3.
2. Warren Tredrea
I loved watching Tredrea every time he stepped onto the field. Port Adelaide’s only premiership captain and he had an impressive career to say the least, 255 games along with 549 goals (most in Port Adelaide history) he was as a dominating key forward in the game as you will find.
A four-time Port Adelaide best and fairest winner, a four-time All Australian, a member of the Port Adelaide Hall of Fame and lead the club’s goalkicking eight times there isn’t much he hasn’t done in the game.
His contested marking was unmatched, combined with the ability to use both sides of his body to great effect unlike many key forwards nowadays and the chance to kick a bag every time he played, there were few better than Warren in his prime.
Although his goalkicking came under severe scrutiny at times he was the definition of a true nightmare for defenders, big Warren comes in at number 2.
1. Michael Wilson
This will be a surprise to many but Michael Wilson is my favorite Port Adelaide AFL player of all time. Playing 192 games over 11 years, winning the rising star in 1997 he was as hard at it as anyone in the game.
A medium-sized defender who occasionally played midfield he was one player I always watched closely. While not flashy or headline-grabbing as some of his more recognized teammates Wilson was everything a Port Adelaide supporter wanted in a footballer, he would bleed for the cause, he never gave up, gave his all every week, and left nothing out on the field.
From his dashing runs of halfback, to his hard tackling and no compromising approach as a midfielder he was a “footballers’ footballer”. Unfortunately, his career was marred by consistent shoulder injuries, two knee reconstructions, and an Achilles tear in Ports 2007 preliminary final win over North Melbourne which ultimately ended his career as he retired in August 2008.
Affectionately known as “Wilbur” at Alberton, he tops the list as my favourite Port Adelaide player of all time.
In truth, I could have listed 20-30 players quite easily so narrowing it down to five is a thankless task but it certainly will divide opinion.