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Show Ken Hinkley the door




We are in the era of the long-serving AFL coach and clubs keep putting themselves through the same nonsense.

Let’s start by stating what should be obvious to all, including Port chairman David Koch – Ken Hinkley is not going to coach a premiership at Port Adelaide.

Although contracted for 2023, the Power should be working on an exit strategy for Hinkley, if they haven’t already, and execute it at some point in the next two weeks.

If Hinkley coaches out the year, he will equal the record for the longest continuous tenure at a club without delivering a premiership, joining Neale Daniher at Melbourne, on 223 matches. If he didn’t miss a match earlier this year through COVID, the record would be his alone.

These are not lifetime appointments, and in no way should be treated as such. Ten years to win a flag is plenty. If you’ve failed by then, it’s not going to happen.

Hinkley’s Port have made three preliminary finals – in 2014 which was his second year, followed by 2020 and 2021 when they had all the favours through the COVID times, able to avoid hubs and play games at home. You’d want to make a few prelims when you’re in charge for a decade.

Nathan Buckley had 218 matches at Collingwood. Leon Cameron, exited earlier this season, finished at 193 at GWS. Those two at least made a grand final. Brad Scott, another contemporary, ended at North after 211 games. Enough just becomes enough.

Nathan Buckley, coach of the Magpies, looks dejected

Nathan Buckley (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

What tends to happen in these situations is that a club has fired its shot, the coach survives another few years to see if they can repeat it and go one or two steps further, but ultimately it never comes.

The Pies under Buckley lost the 2018 grand final to West Coast, could never quite recapture the magic during finals appearances the following two seasons, before the bottom fell out last year. Gone.

Cameron’s Giants copped a 15-goal hiding in the 2019 grand final after a charmed run through September, didn’t make finals in 2020 and were OK but never winning a flag last year. It has been obvious for a long time that GWS need a fresh voice, and that was apparent to those in charge early this season. Gone.

North made two plucky prelims under Brad Scott, but were never really a contender after not finishing in the top four on the ladder. They descended into nothingness, and his tenure petered out. Gone.

Port has never finished lower than tenth under Hinkley. They will this year. The bottom is falling out. Their era is over.

Robbie Gray is 34, and looks it. Travis Boak is the same age. They have five best and fairests between them. Charlie Dixon will be 32 when he kicks his first footy next pre-season, but his body seems older. These are their match-winners, long in the tooth.

Tom Jonas is starting to look weary. Steven Motlop has already retired. Scott Lycett has barely played. There are others.

Grundy Lycett

Brodie Grundy contests the ruck against Scott Lycett. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos)

Some younger players have plateaued. Others aren’t playing to their potential. That can happen under any coach, and often a fresh voice is simply what is needed. The Power list is crying out for it.

Have a look at what Collingwood is doing under Craig McRae. 17th to second.

Michael Voss has injected all sorts of belief and hope into Carlton players and supporters, having spent all of his first season in the eight.

Look what Chris Fagan did with Brisbane. Wooden spooners to top four in three years. Justin Longmiur has turned Fremantle around in quick time. Luke Beveridge took the Dogs from basket-case to premiers in two seasons.

And Port need to look no further than their own club. They were a laughing stock at the end of 2012, having finished an average of 13th in the previous five years. Along came Hinkley and had them winning a final in his first year, out of absolutely nowhere.

If Hinkley coaches next season, it’s highly likely that he’ll be gone before it ends. Leon Cameron’s last game was in Round 9, Buckley’s was Round 13, Brad Scott Round 10. It’s just so obvious what will happen next year.

David Koch loves talking a big game to attract a headline. Even yesterday, it was “we are not afraid to make change” and “hard decisions at the end of the year” and “watch out”. His bark is always worse than his bite, so let’s see if he’s got some teeth this time.

The Port Adelaide hierarchy has a choice – take bold and progressive action and start the future now, or waste a year and wither on the vine while the inevitable takes place.

The ball is in your court, Kochie.





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