What I Love About My Team in 2023 – Port Adelaide

Love is a beautiful thing. It’s what makes the world go round. We’re all looking for love in all of our lives, and some are lucky enough to have found it.

Truth be told, my heart bleeds the brown and gold of Waverley. But ever since meeting my beautiful wife, the soft spot I have for those in teal has only grown stronger, and I now consider the men from Alberton my second team. Avid readers of my columns, and the boys in the Mongrel chat, also know of another reason why I love the Power so much, and this is where things may get a little messy. HB has opened this up for us to talk about what we love about our football teams in 2023, and with myself being the only South Australian member of the Mongrel, I felt it was my duty to share what I love the most about Port Adelaide this year, and indeed, every year since a certain young man was drafted back in 2018.

Brace yourselves kids, this is going to get a little weird.



I remember it like it was yesterday. Round Two. The first Showdown of the COVID interrupted 2020. This is when a young man from Bacchus Marsh truly burst onto the scene. Port Adelaide absolutely demolished the Crows, and in just his 14th senior game, Zak Butters was at the forefront, gathering 21 disposals, eight tackles, and a goal. The stat line doesn’t paint the full picture, because it was Zak’s attack on the ball that sold me. I claimed Butters as mine in the Mongrel group chat, and the rest is history.

My love for Zak Butters has only grown stronger in the years since, and I can’t see that affection dissipating any time soon. Every time Butters is around the ball, the excitement (among other things) grows, because I know something courageous will happen.  There is a fear that this reckless abandon will shorten his career, which would be devastating, and send me into a tailspin that I may not recover from, but for the time being, we all need to just sit back and enjoy the way Zak plays the game.

Tough as nails around the trenches, silky smooth by both hand and foot, and with a goal sense that excites and amazes, there was an argument to be made that Butters was the best of Port’s 2018 first-round draft trio, that is until Connor Rozee took his game to another level in 2022. He may not have the flash of Orazio Fantasia, or the size of Ollie Wines, but Butters more than makes up for it with an infectious attitude to the game he loves, and you can see how much his teammates love playing with him.

But for all of what I’ve just said about Zak’s on-field qualities, and they are immense, it’s his relationship with coach Ken Hinkley that I find the most endearing. Butters has signed on until the end of 2025, and by that stage, his signature will be even more valuable than it is right now, as hard as that is to believe. I truly believe that if Port wants Zak to stick around, the person they need to re-sign the most is Hinkley. Theirs looks like a true father-son bond, and Zak won’t be going anywhere as long as Ken is still the man in charge.

There really was no other option when it came time for Robbie Gray to hand over his No. 9 jumper. You could make the argument that Zak could’ve spent his entire career in No.18, and made it his own to hand off when he calls time, but when you look at their game style, there wasn’t anyone close to Gray, aside from Butters. With 68 games under his belt, and still just 22 years of age, there’s still so much time for Butters to carve out a legacy of his own, and I can’t wait to witness it.

I’ve had to restrain myself here, as I could go on with these words for days and days. Certainly, no other player from a team I don’t profess to call my own has struck a chord within me quite like this. If there are any more records I can file, any more soapboxes I can stand on, or any more megaphones I can scream into, I am yet to find them. Zak Butters is my favourite player, and he will be for the foreseeable future. Just be thankful I don’t cover many Port games, aside from the Showdowns, because I’m pretty sure you’d all get sick of me talking about Zak Butters too.

Just to finish off the Zak Butters love letter, whenever the Mongrel gets a new recruit, I take it upon myself to ask their opinions on Zak. Their responses let me know whether or not they’ll be a good fit. Every response thus far has been correct, which lets you know of the calibre of those who write for our illustrious website.

I need a cigarette.



Maybe I’m wrong here, but is there a more important player to Port’s structure than ruckman Scott Lycett? After watching the circus that was the Power’s ruck division in 2022, I’d have to say no. Sure, for periods it looked like it was working with Jeremy Finlayson, but late in the year, it became clear that without Lycett in the middle, Port isn’t going anywhere this year. Lycett only played four games last season, averaging 24 hit-outs, 14 disposals, four clearances, and three inside 50s. If you don’t count Finlayson as a ruckman (and I don’t), you’re left with perennial backup Sam Hayes, untried youngsters Ollie Lord and Dante Visentini, and the impressive but inexperienced Brynn Teakle as your only other options for starting ruckman. Think Port can even make finals, and save Ken Hinkley’s job if these are the ruck options? Think again.

Speaking of importance to team structure, we can’t forget about Charlie Dixon. It’s fair to say that 2022 wasn’t anywhere near Dixon’s best year, only kicking 16 goals from 12 matches. I can’t argue against the criticism that came his way, only to say that Dixon did spend more time in the ruck owing to Lycett’s absence. What I can say, however, is that when Dixon is up and about, roaring around the forward line breathing fire, there aren’t many better sights in this world. I’m hoping 2023 brings with it a return to the good old days of 2020 and 2021 (aside from the BLINDINGLY obvious. That plague can stay right where it is), where Dixon was an All-Australian full forward to be reckoned with. That Charlie Dixon, alongside an in-form Todd Marshall and revitalised Mitch Georgiades would be a terrifying prospect for opposition defenders and would be a welcome sight for everyone at Adelaide Oval.

Since this is a “what I love” piece, I will go on record as saying that I love the playing style of both Lycett and Dixon. Both players get routinely criticised for their perceived lack of aggression when it matters most, but I don’t mind that their one-woods are shelved in the bag on occasion. What’s the alternative? Gaining a reputation for over-aggression and drawing the eye of the umpires? Why would anyone want to do that? Let them play the way they play. Sure, at times they’ll look out of sorts. At times it’ll backfire. But under the right circumstances, Lycett and Dixon’s passion and aggression could just as easily light a fire under their young teammates, right when they need it most.



Why do people hate Tom Jonas? Seriously, I just can’t understand it. Surely we all realise that you don’t need to be the best player on your team to make an effective skipper. Because that’s exactly what Jonas is to this team. The best captain they could ask for. He plays key back despite being vastly undersized compared with some opponents, and his will to win ensures that he least comes out of every contest even. Maybe you can make the argument that with this potentially being Hinkley’s final year at the helm, it would’ve been the perfect opportunity to usher in a new era, with a new, on-field leader in charge, but I still firmly believe that this is Jonas’s team and the players all look like they’d follow him to the ends of the earth, such is his leadership excellence.

Aside from Jonas, and with the retirement of Robbie Gray, there’s only one other of Port’s home-grown elder statesmen left, and that’s Travis Boak. What else can be said about Boak that hasn’t already been shouted from the rooftops? At 34 years old, Boak is still Port’s best midfielder, although current All-Australian Connor Rozee is poised to take that crown in 2023. 21 games in 2022, and still in career-best form, with an average of 27 disposals, six clearances, and five inside 50s, there’s only a well-deserved Brownlow, and an even more deserved premiership medallion to add to Boak’s glittering resumé. He doesn’t need these accolades to cement himself as one of Port Adelaide’s greatest-ever footballers, but should he get them, the legend of Travis Boak will only grow.


Well, that was fun. For all my Zak Butters love in the Mongrel chat, I’ve never had the privilege of putting pen to paper on all my feelings. I’m sure my cohorts are sick of my ramblings, but these thoughts will never die, as much as I’m sure the other Mongrels would like them to. But I hope this piece also provides everyone with some clarity about my newfound appreciation for the Power. I should hate them, given the SANFL team I barrack for. And indeed, I have a hatred for the Magpies that will never go away. But to me, the Power is a different entity. As much as they say they’re one club, to me, they simply are not. In short; Port Adelaide Power: good. Port Adelaide Magpies: bad.

As a Hawks man for the past 25 years, I can never barrack against them. But if Hawthorn can’t win this year’s premiership, I’ll be right on the Port Adelaide bandwagon. Think about it. Tom Jonas becomes a premiership captain. Travis Boak gets one last accolade for the pool room.  Ken Hinkley proves all the doubters wrong. It’s all there, in black and white (and teal). I guess the only downside is that we’d have to hear David Koch going on and on about on morning TV, and wherever else he can scream.

Maybe I don’t want Port to win the flag…


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