Aspley’s Alir Aliir wins the Showdown Medal

Submitted by Peter Blucher.

Aliir Aliir was no different to most of Australia last week. He watched Peter Bol run in the 800m final at the Tokyo Olympics. But unlike most casual track and field fans Aliir knows Bol well and shares a remarkably similar story.

The pair were born six months apart in Africa in 1974 and escaped from the civil war of South Sudan with their families as youngsters.

While Aliir spent much of his youth in Brisbane before a family stint in Perth, Bol found himself in Toowoomba at age eight before he, too, grew up in Perth.

And while Aliir has been well-known to football fans across the country for a long time, first with the Sydney Swans and now Port Adelaide Power, Bol went from an unknown to national favorite in four days when he became the first Australian runner to qualify for the Olympic 800m final in 53 years.

At his second Olympics, Bol ran three times in Tokyo for two personal bests and two Australian records before finishing fourth in the final after bravely leading the field through much of the journey.

Aliir, an AFL figurehead for Sudanese footballers and connected with players of similar background across the competition, revealed the pair have been friends for “quite a while” and was “so proud” of his magnificent performance in Tokyo.

On Saturday, when Aliir played for Port Adelaide in Showdown #50, he turned inspiration into excellence to win the Showdown Medal with arguably the best performance of his career.

He had 21 possessions and an equal career-best five contested marks time in Port’s hard-fought four-point win, including 16 intercept possessions and a staggering 10 intercept marks – an equal AFL record all-time.

He was positively magnificent in a showing that confirmed his status as one of the AFL recruits of the year and will most likely earn him the first three-vote Brownlow Medal rating in his now 84-game career.

Aliir was endorsed wholeheartedly by Port coach Ken Hinkley and Crows counterpart Matthew Nicks in voting for the AFL Coach’s Association Player of the Year award, picking up the maximum 10 votes.

Now with 24 votes, he ranks fourth among Queenslanders behind Brisbane skipper Dayne Zorko (51), Swans ruckman Tom Hickey (34) and Port teammate Charlie Dixon (30), and ahead of Brisbane’s Harris Andrews (25), Adelaide’s Ben Keays (23) and Brisbane’s Charlie Cameron (22).

Aliir, too, is ranked third in votes received by 2021 recruits – players who moved from one club to another over the off-season. Hickey (34) leads this from Western Bulldogs’ Adam Treloar (25), Aliir, Essendon’s Peter Wright (22), Geelong’s Jeremy Cameron (19) and North Melbourne’s Jayden Stephenson (19).

While Aliir was the hero of Port’s win, Dixon was the last-minute match-winner. After a quiet day he plucked a huge contested mark and kicked what proved to be the last goal inside the last two minutes after hot favorites Port had trailed most of the day.

In other Queensland highlights in Round 21:-

Zac Smith won high praise from Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew after a pivotal role in the Suns’ gritty 19-point win over Carlton in Melbourne on Saturday. “He played really well today … he’s had an interrupted year with a serious knee injury but full credit to Zac,” Dew said after Smith’s 10 possessions, 31 hit-outs, five clearances and a goal.

And Zorko was outstanding in the Lions’ thumping win over Fremantle in Perth on Sunday, leading the way from the first bounce and finishing with 34 possessions, 10 tackles, seven clearances and a goal. And 10 coaches votes. Andrews, with 20 possessions and nine marks, earned two votes from the coaches.


Peter Blucher is a Consultant with Vivid Sport. 

Our Supporters