At the time, it was the closest Showdown in Adelaide and Port Adelaide’s history.
When Round 19, 2013 rolled around, Port Adelaide were on the verge of their first finals appearance since the demolition that was the 2007 Grand Final and were rising after winning only five games the previous season.
Adelaide were sitting in 12th spot and needed everything to go their way in the final five rounds to keep their slim finals chances alive.
Enter Showdown 35.
Each week, Aflplayers.com.au will bring to light the perspective of someone at the heart of a memorable moment from a game played between two sides before their upcoming clash.
Port Adelaide’s Hamish Hartlett was one of Showdown 35’s heroes. Three first-half goals and 25 disposals for the match was outshone only by a few teammates extra special efforts.
And there’s one major memory that comes flooding back to Hartlett while thinking about the clash.
“The first thing that springs to mind is Angus Monfries’ goal late in the last quarter to get us back within a few points,” Hartlett told Aflplayers.com.au.
“The way the ball bounced at right angles and went through for a goal was something I had never seen before. For it to happen in a Showdown when the game was so tight made it that extra bit more special.”
Before Monfries kicked one of the most remarkable goals ever seen, the game had just about everything.
The Crows led by a small margin at quarter time before the Power piled on seven goals to lead by 21 points at the main break. But the match was far from over.
“It was one of those games, and it’s similar to a lot of Showdowns, where the momentum shifts pretty significantly to either side throughout parts of the match,” Hartlett added.
“At some stages, we were up by three or four goals and then the Crows would kick a few in a row and even the scores before getting out to a similar margin, that’s the way Showdowns tend to go.
“We were three or four goals up at half time and were playing some pretty good footy, but we were never entirely confident with that margin at that point in the game.”
The Crows clawed their way back into the contest. Four consecutive majors to Brenton Sanderson’s side saw them take the lead and the two teams were locked in a fierce contest for the following 20 minutes.
The finals bound Power had everything to lose whereas the Crows were desperate to keep their season alive and it was Adelaide who asserted their authority midway through the last term.
“2013 was the season we were reborn as a club and hadn’t seen success for the prior four or five years, so to be potentially playing finals was really exciting,” Hartlett said.
“But when the Crows were four goals up in that last quarter, I thought the chance of playing finals was slipping right before me.
“Seven points down at three-quarter time is anyone’s game but when it got out to 20 points with five minutes to go that’s when the doubt begins to creep in.”
Port Adelaide were beginning to make a name for themselves during this time as the comeback specialists.
So when Ricky Henderson kicked his first goal at the 21-minute mark to put the Crows up by 20 points, the Power knew they still had some time.
Goals to Robbie Gray and Chad Wingard within three minutes of each other reduced the margin to only eight points before that miracle Monfries goal at the 28-minute mark saw only two points in it.
“Such was the belief of the group in our ability, game plan, and fitness, we never thought we were entirely out of any game. We also had some pretty big comebacks earlier in the year, so that was always in the back of my mind.
“Momentum is such a huge thing in footy these days and I think we kicked one or two goals prior to Angus’ miracle goal, so things were shifting in our favour.
“Angus’ goal was because of a transfer of play in the back-pocket after we took a couple of risks, went to the outer side and down the wing and Gussy’s man slipped over, so he threw the ball onto his left foot.
“It never at any stage looked like it was going to go through for a goal and somehow the ball turned at a 90-degree angle and tumbled through, which sent a bit of positivity throughout the group given the time of game.
Trailing by less than a kick but with the momentum going the Power’s way, the ball ended up in the hands of one of the rising stars of the competition who sealed the victory for Port in arguably the best finish in Showdown history.
“After Gussy’s goal, we were able to win the centre clearance and go forward again, win a couple of crucial contests out on the forward flank and centering the ball to the top of the goal-square, which is a discipline piece of play, and Dom Cassisi put on a subtle block for Chaddy Wingard to take the mark.
“He’s a special player, Chad. He loves the big moments and playing in big games and we usually see his best footy against really good opposition or when the team needs it most.
“I think he had just turned 20 the week before and to go back and take that mark and then have the composure to slot his fifth goal for the day — and third for the quarter — under immense pressure was phenomenal.
“You’re pretty confident when Chad Wingard has the footy in his hands 20 metres out and directly in front that good things are going to happen.
“It was the best Showdown I’ve been involved in. The pressure and context of the game in terms of us playing finals was enormous, coming from that margin late in the game, it was a high-scoring and free-flowing game and getting over the line by the smallest margin in Showdown history was incredible — it won’t escape my memory for a long time.”