AFL Round 18 Wrap: Dixon reaches 100

There are some AFL players who say they take no notice of the football media and then hang on every word. After all, it’s human nature.

Not Charlie Dixon. Definitely not.

As his Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley has said often, Dixon cares only about the views of people who matter to him. His immediate coaches and teammates in a football sense, plus close friends and family.

So when you ask the Gold Coast Suns foundation player turned Port power forward what he’d like written here about him to mark his 100th AFL this weekend his reply is very predictable. He doesn’t know. He doesn’t care. And he won’t read it.

And he genuinely means it.

In a football world where the media has become an all-consuming medium 24/7 Dixon takes no interest. He is an old school type who plays for his team, his jumper and those who matter to him. Nothing else.

His only concession to what was a very short 100th game milestone interview was an answer to one simple question.  Was the move to Port Adelaide the best decision of his football career?

Yes, he said. Not because he didn’t love his time at the Suns. He did. He appreciates enormously the opportunity the club gave him, and counts a lot of ex-Suns teammates among his good friends.

But the move to Port in 2016 was the making of him in a football sense.

At the Suns, where he played 65 games from 2011-2015, he was a very promising but sometimes erratic young player. And he knew it.

It’s why there was no denying Hinkley when he offered Dixon a fresh start in Adelaide.

Hinkley had been an assistant-coach at the Gold Coast for their first two years in the AFL and was a real Dixon confidant.

Even when Hinkley took charge at Port in 2013 there was a lasting connection.

And when Dixon was coming out of contract in 2014 Hinkley made it his personal mission to lure him to Port.

After a solid first season at Port Dixon has really stepped up this year, and ranks among the key players in a side that sits fourth on the ladder after 16 matches and is destined to be a genuine contender in September.

The numbers don’t lie.

In 65 games at the Gold Coast Dixon averaged 10.4 disposals, 1.5 goals, 1.2 contested marks, 1.4 marks inside 50, 1.9 tackles and 0.4 goal assists.

In 34 games at Port he has averaged 12.6 disposals, 1.9 goals, 2.2 contested marks, 2.3 marks inside 50, 2.4 tackles and 0.6 goal assists,

In 16 games in 2017 he has averaged 14.0 disposals, 2.1 goals, 2.4 contested marks, 2.8 marks inside 50, 3.1 tackles and 0.9 goal assists.

And that is without taking into account the defensive pressure he applies in the forward 50, which is something Hinkley values highly, and his general presence on the ground.

On Saturday Dixon will play his 100th AFL game for Port against Melbourne at the MCG.

He will reach his century one week after good friend and former Suns teammate Zac Smith, who, like Dixon, left the Gold Coast at the end of 2015 and has forged a new career at Geelong.

Just as Smith’s 100th game was a wonderfully satisfying moment for the soccer convert from Rockhampton, it will be likewise for the Dixon, a basketball convert from Cairns.

They are two of the great stories of Queensland football of the past decade.

Dixon will forever have a prominent place in Suns history, having kicked the club’s first AFL goal.

He still ranks fourth on the Suns all-time goal-kicking list at 94, behind only Tom Lynch (227), Gary Ablett (124) and Brandon Matera (124), and shares with Lynch the club record of seven goals in a game.

But just as powerful is his appreciation of the role Hinkley and Port Adelaide Football Club has been in helping him to convert his prodigious talent into sustained performance.

Dixon’s century is the big news event for Queenslanders in Round 18 of the Toyota AFL premiership.

Headlining selection news is Brendan Whitecross’ recall to the Hawthorn side for what will be coach Alastair Clarkson’s 300th game at the helm.

After a string of good form in the VFL Whitecross will play his sixth game of the season and his first since Round 12 against Fremantle in Perth on Saturday.

His good news balances out the bad news for the Wagner family.

Josh Wagner was omitted from the Melbourne side that will play Port, and North Melbourne’s Corey Wagner will miss a fortnight following minor ankle surgery on Monday.

Rising North Melbourne star Braydon Preuss picked a bad time to be injured when finally Roos coach Brad Scott dropped out-of-form ruck veteran Todd Goldstein.

Preuss, who showed so much promise in four games early in the season and would have been an automatic pick if fit, is out with a back problem, leaving the ruck duties against Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Saturday to Majak Daw.

Josh Williams is an emergency for North for the second time this season, while Jesse Joyce was named as an emergency for Gold Coast ahead of their clash with the Western Bulldogs in Cairns on Saturday afternoon.

St.Kilda’s Sam Gilbert also is expected to be sidelined for a fortnight with a hand injury, while Tom Hickey was omitted from the Saints’ side for Saturday night’s Sydney clash with the Swans.

By Peter Blucher

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