Port Adelaide's want to wear their beloved prison bar jumper has dominated headlines in recent weeks, now though it is time to get back to football.
Unless you have been living under a rock over the past couple of weeks, you will know of the prison bar jumper debate. It has raged on and perhaps caught more traction and reaction than first thought, but it has the chance to get in the way of the most important thing, winning football games.
Because of how much the prison bar jumper means to the club, it does have the potential to get in the way of playing football and that is the most important thing isn’t it? Given how Port has performed against the big guns of the competition (Richmond aside) many feel, including myself, that they have something to prove.
Saturday night presents one of Port Adelaide’s biggest tests of the year. Without Zak Butters, Xavier Duursma, Scott Lycett, and possibly Dan Houston, Ken Hinkley and his side are coming up against what some believe to be the best in the competition in the Western Bulldogs.
A midfield that is the envy of the competition, a potent forward line, and a stout defence, the Dogs have all the ingredients to give Port all sorts of problems. With the game being at Adelaide Oval, Port Adelaide is currently $1.64 favourites while the Dogs are all the way out at $2.27 according to Sportsbet. In reality, those odds should be a lot closer together.
Port is coming off a tough Showdown win over the Crows to the tune of 49-points. It was a tough, physical contest in which Ken Hinkley’s side pulled away in the second half. For the Dogs, they overcame a spirited Carlton side by 16 points with a last quarter avalanche to get the points.
Saturday night’s clash has a lot riding on it for Port, aside from the Richmond game they have left a lot to be desired when it comes to playing the competition's big guns. Many feel that Port has to win this to gain some more validation as genuine premiership contenders and a loss would severely dent their aspirations to be seen as a challenger.
Injuries to key players and with the loss of Lycett, Port should have the depth to cover but it remains to be seen as to whether Peter Ladhams or young untried ruckman Sam Hayes gets the nod. Given the importance of the match, Ladhams will likely get the first crack at holding down Port Adelaide’s No.1 ruck spot however Hayes is pushing hard with his stellar SANFL form.
This feels like a game Port Adelaide has to win and get respect from the AFL community when it comes to premiership chances, as well as put to bed all of the prison bar jumper debates. In the aftermath of the Brisbane loss, many pundits suggested Port should focus more on their football, rather than what jumper they wear, and should they succumb to the Dogs those thoughts will once again be front and centre.
There has been a lot of media attention and fan push for Port Adelaide to wear their prison bar jumpers during Showdowns, but now the time has come to put that on the back burner and focus on getting the four points available on Saturday night.