Steven Motlop. Picture: portadelaidefc.com.au

Steven Motlop produced a moment of brilliance when his team needed it most as Port secured a memorable win in Showdown XLIV in 2018.

In 2018, in his first Showdown for his new club, Steven Motlop produced a moment of brilliance in the dying stages to secure a win for Port Adelaide.

Showdowns between Adelaide and Port Adelaide have been some of the most hotly contested games in league history. The majority are close encounters and are filled with moments of magic.

Port Adelaide currently holds sway in all-time wins with 26. Adelaide has 24. Each year, it is the fixture that both sets of fans circle in their diary and is a must-win game for their clubs.

Fox Footy and SEN commentator Anthony Hudson had the perfect vantage point for one of the most iconic moments in Showdown history.

The legendary commentator started his career mostly calling Derby’s in Western Australia between Fremantle and West Coast. But he kept a keen eye on the SA blockbuster each year.

Showdowns are always entertaining affairs. Photo: afl.com.au

He eventually made his way to commentating on Showdowns and it did not take him long to realize how important the games were.

Hudson spoke exclusively with The Inner Sanctum and said when Port Adelaide made its way into the AFL, the rivalry between both SA teams was evident.

“Once Port came into the competition it pretty quickly established itself as being a pretty important match,” he said.

“I think really you only had to do one or two early and I can’t tell you which was the first one I did, I honestly can’t remember. But you just got a feel for how important it was for a footy match. Also the impact it had in the lead-in, the post (after the game), you hear it all.

“But I think when you actually go there and just talk to the people and get a feel for it all, then you get an understanding of how it’s a rivalry. But it’s a genuine footy rivalry which we all love.”

One of Hudson’s most memorable calls during Showdowns was Steven Motlop’s game-winning goal in Round 8 of 2018.

Robbie Gray had kicked five goals in the third quarter to give Port Adelaide the lead. However, a comeback from Adelaide saw Mitch McGovern kick truly with a minute remaining to wrestle the lead back.

After the restart, Motlop then latched onto a slick handball from Sam Gray and slotted home with just seconds remaining. Sending the Port fans into raptures as it turned out to be the game winner.

Hudson recalls Showdown XLIV among a host of memories he has from previous encounters. To this day, he still gets excited by moments such as Motlop’s goal. He added that calling such iconic games is what he dreams of as a commentator.

“I haven’t done that many and probably my overall memories in more recent times, the Josh Jenkins goal. Where he had to say his grandma taught him not to lie and it hit the post,” Hudson said.

“Then Robbie Gray kicking the five goals in a quarter which was just amazing. Then the Motlop goal which I think came after (Mitch) McGovern had kicked a goal, got Adelaide back in front.

“There was all sorts of drama going on and it was what you dream of as a commentator. After all these years I still get just as excited by those sorts of moments where literally, its less than a one-kick game.

“You’ve got X number of seconds on the clock. Under a minute and you know there’s only one or two plays remaining.”

Motlop a special kind of player

Steven Motlop had always had a flair for the dramatic and can do things on a football field that others can’t. Motlop has struggled to find some consistency in his game, but he was brought to Port Adelaide for those kinds of moments.

The game lives long in the memory of Port Adelaide fans. Motlop’s goal with 28 seconds remaining was incredible and it is the type of moment that Hudson says the 31-year-old was built for.

“I think Stevie (Motlop), being a Geelong supporter, going back, he’s always been one of those players that was really capable of turning it on in a moment or in a quarter,” he said.

“Maybe hadn’t quite delivered as consistently as he would of liked on his talent over the time and was obviously a recruit for Port. They were trying to have a crack at things and recruited him for those goals and to be in those moments.

“So I think adding all that up, it was great. The tension that’s there, I think, I’m sure it was a Port home game because the crowd went absolutely nuts.”

After Port Adelaide had what was thought to be a comfortable lead, Eddie Betts, Taylor Walker, and McGovern all kicked late goals to set up a grandstand finish.

It all looked lost for Port, having given up the lead with roughly a minute remaining. Hudson remembers how the Motlop’s goal came about. Sitting in the commentary box, he said he hopes he nailed the now iconic moment.

“The beauty was it came out of the middle, it went Adelaide’s way first and then it got kicked down. It was kind of there and Motlop just came bursting through,” he said.

“The momentum and the excitement and kicked the goal in a style where he can. He has always been able to turn heads and create that exciting moment. But to be able to do it at that time, I’m sure one he will never forget and one that I won’t forget either.

“Because there’s just nothing like calling those few minutes of a game where it’s up for grabs. If the lead swings from one way to the other and then you get that moment and you hope to nail the moment.”

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Hudson has been at the center of some of the best and most well-known pieces of commentary in AFL history.

Nick Davis’ goal against Geelong in the 2005 Semi-Final, not to mention Lance Franklin’s 13th goal back in 2012. When it comes to his best calls, the Fox Footy commentator says the goal from Motlop is near the top in terms of great moments he has called.

“That is definitely right up there,” he said.

“I mean the experience of calling those rivalries, be it the Showdown or the Derby is right, right up there. I have been lucky enough to call Grand Finals and lots of big games. But it’s just such a frenzy and the emotion.

“You see it when Ken Hinkley goes nuts after the game. So, I absolutely put it right up there in terms of moments and hoping you did the moment justice. Because you sort of get carried away yourself. Its only afterwards where you go back and go I hope I did it justice.

“I was certainly buzzing after the match, and you are in those circumstances.”

Having called so many big games during his esteemed career, Hudson says that calling a Showdown has an atmosphere all its own.

Such is his fondness for the SA spectacle, he says that it would not bother him to simply sit back and watch the game as a spectator. He adds that sometimes, given the magnitude of the game its important not to let the emotions get to you in the commentary box.

“The Adelaide Oval, I always say it’s the one ground that I kind of go to and go actually it wouldn’t worry me if I wasn’t calling tonight,” he said.

“I would be happy to just sit on the hill and watch it because it’s got such a great atmosphere.

The Adelaide Oval has seen some incredible Showdowns. Photo: Sue McKay – Twitter

“There’s no doubt you’re definitely up for a Showdown. Sometimes you got to manage that. Not go too hard too early and still make sure you still have somewhere to go when it gets to the end. They are certainly right up there with special occasions.”

There are so many long-standing rivalries across the AFL. Such as Essendon and Collingwood and Carlton and Collingwood just to name a few.

In terms of the best rivalry in the AFL, Hudson says the Showdowns are one of the best going. In his mind, there is one thing that sets the Showdowns apart from other classic rivalries.

“Right up the top no doubt,” Hudson says.

“Other rivalries come and go and that’s the beauty of the cross-town rivalry. Other rivalries come and go, Geelong and Hawthorn was probably the best rivalry up until two or three years ago. It was a decade of classic Monday matches on Easter Monday. Then sprinkled with finals and matches later in the year.

“But I think for consistency, because it doesn’t matter as much whether teams are at the top of the ladder or not. It can be that one of the teams is at the top and ones near the bottom and that bottom team, for them, its something to get out of the year. The bragging rights and all that sort of stuff and there’s history of famous matches and famous moments.”

There is no doubting Showdowns are different. Two teams in the same AFL town, the rivalry gets to everyone in the build-up to a game. The entire week is a build-up unlike no other.

Hudson says that what makes these games so good and thrilling, is the history of the fixture. What It represents to both fanbases and when the games are tight encounters, he says it makes for an even better spectacle.

“It can seem like a cliche, and modern players come along and say that’s (history) all in the past,” he said.

“But you can’t help it, your human, you get caught up in it. You understand what it means to the shopkeeper or the guy or girl at the supermarket. Or your brother-in-law, whatever, is you understand, you know, you can tell there’s more to it.

“So, things happen and when it all comes in a climax with a thrilling finish, then it’s even better. Because it’s genuine, it’s right up there with any rivalry and because its continuous no matter where they are on the ladder,” he finished.

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