Like many adjusting during the Coronavirus pandemic, I have found myself watching plenty of sport as an escape. And that has included plenty of classic footy content.
While Grand Final triumphs and final wins provide plenty of joy, we can often overlook those classic battles during the regular season.
Fox Footy is currently screening the best 50 games of all time encompassing all the above and it has made for a nice distraction (apart from when your team loses) when confined to the couch at home.
Granted it is impossible to please everyone with these types of countdowns but a gem which hasn’t made the cut much to my biased surprise is the 2002, Round 22 clash between Port Adelaide and Brisbane at AAMI stadium.
Taking the time to sit back with a couple of beers and relive this game it truly is an underrated classic.
Another chapter in the rivalry
In front of 46,439 fans the Power and Lions battled it out in the last round of the season to determine who of the two would finish the 2002 minor round in top position.
There is certainly a lot to unpack in this game. It is a fierce contest between two rivals who many pundits thought would meet again on the last day in September.
Instead it would be a week early in the Preliminary Final.
The first half of this contest is an arm wrestle with the Lions heading to the main break with a slender 10-point lead.
The third quarter was the Power show with the home team slamming on seven goals to one before the Lions came storming back in the last quarter to set up a cliff hanger finish.
As I sat in the crowd that day and watched this game again the memories came flooding back. I do in fact love Roger James.
What also stands out in this epic as you would expect with two teams sitting at the top of the table is the star quality all over the field.
Between the two sides there are a combined 16 players who earned at least one All-Australian selection throughout their careers.
Likewise, a lot of players in this game have transitioned into the coaching box. Both at senior and assistant level. This includes two premiership coaches Damien Hardwick and Chris Scott.
While all the above has transpired, amazingly Shaun Burgoyne who played in this game is still playing at AFL level 18 years later.
The history books
The Brisbane Lions team in the early 2000s is rightfully considered one of the greatest in VFL/ AFL history. Hard to argue with three consecutive premierships in 2001, 02 and 03.
During this same period Port Adelaide was considered a major challenger but their own standing in the game is understandably neglected.
Reputations are forged in September and despite winning three consecutive minor premierships in 2002,3 and 04 the Power only have a solitary premiership to show for a similar period of dominance during the regular season as the Lions.
These two clubs clashed in multiple high-quality games during this era, but it took until 2004 for the heavyweights to finally meet in a Grand Final.
This clash is not as high profile, but it is a tough, physical, quality game of football that stands the test of time.