Kochie's 'ridiculous' Port Adelaide bombshell backfires badly

·5-min read
Caroline Wilson is pictured hosting Footy Classified on the left, while David Koch is pictured at a Port Adelaide game on the right.
Port Adelaide boss David Koch's bold call for change at the Power has backfired, with a bevy of AFL observes, including Caroline Wilson, slamming the chairman. Pictures: Channel 9/Getty Images

Port Adelaide chairman David Koch's tough talk about nobody at the club being safe amid the club's worst finish in 10 years has backfired on him, after he copped an avalanche of criticism from AFL observers.

The Power were slow out of the gate this season and despite a promising mid-season stretch of form, they were unable to claw back any chance of playing finals.

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Considered as a finals contender prior to the 2022 season after making the reliminary finals last year, the Power have instead slumped to an 8-12 record, good for 12th on the ladder with two games to play.

Koch decided to issue a stern ultimatum to his club in the wake of last weekend's drubbing at the hands of Richmond.

He declared on FiveAA last Monday that the club had to make some 'hard decisions' when it comes to their presonnel, promising a thorough review into their football department.

“It’s not just about one individual person, it’s the whole program. Turn it around or watch out," Koch said.

“Every single person’s role will be assessed at the end of the year, as we do each year.”

Head coach Ken Hinkley had a subtle jab at Koch's comments later that day, declaring he believed his was all but assured of his place at Port Adelaide for 2023.

Despite this, many AFL observers were critical of Koch for putting the whole club on edge.

The likes of Caroline Wilson believe Koch could be playing with fire when it comes to Hinkley, would be be pursued by rival clubs should his services no longer be required at thd Power.

“I gather there will be some comments made regarding what he said on Monday night, comments that really inflamed the football club and really put Ken Hinkley under enormous pressure,” she told Channel 9's Footy Classified.

“I don’t think I know of another footy club in the AFL who is so beholden to their supporters as Port Adelaide.

“What this has done is forced some pretty robust conversations with the chairman and some of his senior people. I think hopefully, for Ken Hinkley’s sake, his job will be guaranteed tomorrow (Thursday) night.

“Until that happens, I’m still not convinced GWS, if they miss out on Alastair Clarkson, won’t make a late play for Ken Hinkley."

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Fellow panellist and former AFL coach Ross Lyon said he was also taken aback by Koch's aggressive comments.

The former Fremantle and St Kilda coach said there was no doubt Koch's comments would have rattled many at the club, and could ultimately end up doing more harm than good.

“I think everyone in the AFL now talks about connection, harmony, environment,” Lyon said.

“And David, for the sake of a sugar hit for his supporter base, to make them feel better that we’re ruthless and we’ll turn them over, the damage to the people that work there, grind their way through an AFL season, it’s disappointing.

“It comes from the top. It’s symbolic of how you feel about the people working for you.”

While Lyon agreed that a review into the club's operations wasn't a bad thing, he said those kinds of reviews ought to be undertaken every year and be a part of the club's process, rather than announced as a potential cleaning of house.

Earlier in the week, SEN's Kane Cornes said Koch needed to put any speculation about Hinkley to bed by quickly and publicly backing the coach, describing the Sunrise hosts comments as 'ridiculous'.

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley is pictured in a team huddle.
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley says he believes he will be coaching the club next season, despite David Koch's recent comments. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“The thing that David Koch needs to do is make a call, is he your coach or is he not your coach?" Cornes asked.

“And if he’s not your coach, you have to tell him now so that he has the opportunity and you give him the respect to go and find another job.

“There are two vacant coaching jobs right now that Ken Hinkley would absolutely be in the mix for, but he can’t be in the mix for it if he thinks he’s going to be coaching Port Adelaide next year.

“Conversely, if he is your guy and you’ve contracted him for next year, which they have, back him in now. There’s nothing to be learnt in the next two weeks that you don’t already know and you haven’t already discovered in the last 10 weeks.

“It was a stupid thing to say, it sent the media into a spin and it now has everyone questioning if Ken Hinkley will be there next year.”

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