Ken’s lost that loving feeling from Port’s bosses

It's been getting extremely lonely on the Ken Hinkley bandwagon.

I think I even heard the loud voices of Port Adelaide chairman David Koch and chief executive Keith Thomas coming from what sounded like the vicinity of exit row
last week.

Koch essentially said on FIVEaa that Hinkley has been failing, with Thomas, perhaps inadvertently, criticising Hinkley's game style in his open letter.

Koch was well aware that Port was 10th on the ladder and on track to miss the finals for a fourth time in the past five seasons, when he said "I've been saying it for a couple of years that our pass or fail mark that we set ourselves is making the finals".

 

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And that's exactly how both Garry Lyon and Paul Roos also heard it, when they used the words "setting him up to fail" on Fox Footy on Monday night.

"Based on what David Koch said," Roos explained, "this is going to be the fourth out of five years they haven't played in the finals, so if that's the pass mark, if they miss the finals this year…. your president's come out and basically said, the coach should be sacked - that's the way I'm reading it."

Port Adelaide Ken Hinkley and Keith Thomas announce Hinkley's contract extension. Picture Sarah Reed
Port Adelaide Ken Hinkley and Keith Thomas announce Hinkley's contract extension. Picture Sarah Reed

I'm also not sure if Keith Thomas, who was in seat 1A on the bandwagon when he extended Hinkley's contract until the end of 2021, was just eyeing some extra leg-room or the emergency exit with his extremely bizarre and weirdly timed "I am to blame" confession letter.

Thomas openly bemoaned the fact that the Power was no longer playing "an exciting brand of football" and was not playing "fast, aggressive, never ever-give-up footy" like it was under Hinkley years ago.

Thomas is free to openly take some blame if he thinks he has employed the wrong people. But sorry Keith, the week-to-week game style is not the chief executive's decision. That's the football department's call, and its blame to take.

The other ironic part about the letter being, in theory, designed to take some heat off Hinkley, is that Thomas promised in his note that he and the club will listen to the members more in the future.

Port Adelaide’s David Koch and Ken Hinkley return from Perth after a loss to the Dockers. Picture: Sarah Reed
Port Adelaide’s David Koch and Ken Hinkley return from Perth after a loss to the Dockers. Picture: Sarah Reed

But as that letter was released, many of the fans and members were calling for Hinkley to be sacked.

The mood-readers can often get it wrong. But even board member Gavin Wanganeen raised some eyebrows on Friday night on 3AW when ambushed about whether Hinkley would be Port coach next season.

"He's contracted," Wanganeen said, delivering the facts and laughingly changing the subject when there was also a nice opening available to deliver some love.

Port Adelaide will celebrate its 150th anniversary season next year. It's intended to be the greatest history-honouring and fan re-engagement party in club history. But if the fans continue to be disenchanted. If they feel they are not listened to by a club that rubber-stamps history-altering decisions like the dual captaincy. If fans continue to stay away from home games, not sign up as members, not buy merchandise and not attend functions, then something has to give - or next season's anniversary could be a giant fizzer.

The fix is obviously to win the last three games and play finals. And win a final or two. But Port missed the finals last season with 12 wins and could win all three remaining games and miss with 12 wins again this year.

The other fix is to give Hinkley more love and support. For everyone internally to back him unequivocally, and get on the same wavelength. If it's not already too late.