Adelaide Crows coach Phil Walsh was trying to catch a cab when the magnitude of his AFL club’s bitter rivalry with Port Adelaide hit home.
Walsh was in a hurry to get to the Crows’ Hall of Fame function on Wednesday night – he’d turned up at the wrong venue.
“I was running late as normal. And I looked around and there wasn’t a lot of black ties coming down … I got the wrong venue,” he said on Friday.
So he hailed a taxi.
The cabbie, named Chris, took a look at Walsh, who crossed Adelaide’s great divide when leaving his assistant coaching role at Port to become the Crows’ head coach this season.
“He said ‘mate, not in this cab, I’m a Port man’,” Walsh said.
“But then he said ‘come on, get in, I know where I’m taking you’.
“And we had a great 10 minute debate. He was telling me ‘why did you do it (leave Port)’.
“At the end of the ride he says ‘mate, this one is for free’. I ended up giving him a tip.
“And I just liked that spirit about it. And I reckon this town is good at that.
“And Chris, I hope I spoil your Sunday driving your cab.”
Walsh said Crows-Port battles, nicknamed the Showdowns, are one of few fixtures which make the hair stand up on the back of his neck.
After being an assistant at Port for a decade until 2009, Walsh joined West Coast and got a taste of the Eagles’ crosstown rivalry with Fremantle.
“When I was at Western Australia I had five years of when I went to derbies and I was really underwhelmed,” he said.
“I said to them ‘guys, you have got to come and experience a Showdown’.
“The state has really embraced it. We know how passionate our fans are. I think it’s one of the real jewels in South Australian football, if not in Australian football.
“I know a lot of people around the country all tune in and they want to see what this Showdown is going to bring.”
Walsh on Sunday will be pitted against Port coach Ken Hinkley – the pair worked in the same Power box last season.
Hinkley, a Victorian who has also spent time at the Gold Coast Suns, is also in awe of the Showdown rivalry.
“I know from my short time in Adelaide that the Showdown is a great game,” said Hinkley, in his third season at Port.
“I think every state is envious of what the Showdown is.
“I certainly don’t downplay it. It’s Port v Adelaide … how passionate the fans are in this state, it’s great for footy.
“I’m an outsider but I have come into this town … and it’s a great rivalry and it’s one that we should be proud of.”