Supporters of football clubs often have a superb backstory as to why they follow their side, and in Nathan Watson’s case, Port Adelaide was in his blood from a young age. During his early years, memories of his father taking him to Alberton Oval to watch the Magpies play was something he looked forward to.
“I grew up in Athol Park and spent the first 21 years of my life there, it's only a 5-minute drive away from Alberton Oval and pretty much went to every home game with my dad from 1988-1998,” Nathan said.
“My Dad must've asked me for 2 years if I wanted to come to the Footy with him, eventually he stopped asking me when he'd go to Alberton Oval”. “Early in the 1988 season, I asked him once where he was going, and I'll never forget the look on his face when I said, 'can I come too".
Making the short trip to the hallowed turf of Alberton Oval then became a staple of his childhood, but in recent times he has chosen to take a back seat from football. However, when he does make the trek from his northern suburbs home, it is like he never left.
“I haven't been to Alberton Oval as much as I'd like in the last 17 years, but it always feels like home whenever I'm there, it’s a special place and I have so many great memories there with my dad”.
Like many of us, Nathan had a favourite player. One who he simply could not wait to see in action. The player that took his fancy early on was none other than eight-time premiership Magpie and 1990 Magary Medallist Scott Hodges. The gun full-forward played 167 games for Port Adelaide, booting 671 goals. His exceptional season in 1990 in particular sticks out for Nathan.
“My favourite Port Adelaide player is and will always be Scott Hodges” Nathan said. “Growing up with him leading out of the goal square was a childhood done the right way”. “Scotty was a phenomenal player and I'm glad I saw his 1990 season as no one has come close or ever will to doing what he did at SANFL level that season”.
With the Prison bar jumper debate now fading into the background somewhat, Nathan certainly left no doubt what he thought of the AFL’s decision not to allow Port Adelaide to wear the prison bar jumper during Showdowns. He did have a rather ingenious idea how the AFL and both sides could come to an agreement.
“What's needed is all three parties locking themselves in a room and only coming out when a suitable agreement is met for all involved,” said Nathan. “It's totally beyond me how us wearing it in our home Showdown every year, a game played in Adelaide between two Adelaide teams is an issue for anyone really”.
“Wearing the Prison Bars guernsey is our way of respecting our very long and proud history and we should have every right in doing so,” he said.
With Port Adelaide currently in their mid-season bye, Nathan gave his thoughts on how Ken Hinkley’s men have fared so far in 2021. While many Port fans are unhappy with how the Power has gone, Nathan is more optimistic heading into the second half of the year.
“I’m happy with our 2021 season so far in terms of being 8-3”. “We are sitting pretty well even with some current injuries (Zak Butters, Tom Clurey and Xavier Duursma just to name a few), but I also think we haven't really clicked and played that well either”. “There has patches in games where we go missing and that's been exposed in games where we have lost to the good teams”.
“I am really looking forward to seeing how we go in the second half of the season and hopefully getting some players back playing before finals,” Nathan said. "Hopefully, we can get a top 4 finish, a double chance, and then anything can happen come finals time".
When talking about their favourite memories of the Port Adelaide Football Club, many would gravitate toward the 2004 Premiership win over the Brisbane Lions. However, while that was a crowning achievement for the AFL side, Nathan thinks one memory stands above all else.
“Obviously 2004 was very special, the first AFL premiership and especially after finally getting it done after failing in the previous few years,” he said.
“But my favourite Port Adelaide memory is the 1994 SANFL premiership win”. “Simply because of how we did it and what it meant during the AFL second licence battle and if it was ever a battle we ended that day”.
After starting slowly in which the Eagles booted six goals to two in the first term, the Magpies produced one of the great comebacks in the club’s history thanks to their legendary full forward. Nathan remembers that day as one of the best matches he has ever witnessed.
“Everything about that win is everything that's good about the Port Adelaide FC”. “The old fresh legs versus the match hardened bodies, we got blown out the water early (in the first term) but after that we just shut the game down”.
“We made it an arm wrestle with tough contested football from a group of players that had been there, done it before, and simply refused to be beaten,” he said. “While everyone talks about the last quarter and Scott Hodges (rightly so kicking five goals) but it's the two quarters before that which set the scene for Scotty Hodges”.
“As always when we needed him (Hodges) in a big pressure situation, he delivered”. “I can still hear the Port Adelaide faithful erupting when that Port Adelaide juggernaut started rolling and we ran all over them in the last quarter”. “It was Just amazing day and time for my football club”.
As you can tell, Nathan is one die-hard Port Adelaide fan from way back. The way he talks about the old Port Magpie days can leave you feeling a little nostalgic, as back then, with the Magpies of old, that is when the real football was played.