Koch enjoys an AFL highlight in Shanghai

David Koch stood on the Jiangwan Stadium boundary line at halftime on Sunday, watching his granddaughter Matilda playing Auskick.


The scoreboard showed Port Adelaide leading Gold Coast by seven goals and the fans were showing Koch lots of love.

Everyone wanted a photo with him, everyone wanted to congratulate him.

It was put to the Port president that the only way he could feel happier at a football match is if his team wins the AFL flag.

“That’s perfectly fair,” he said.

It will take several years and a lot more hard work before Koch knows whether Port’s China experiment works.

But this was the start they needed.

The 72-point win over Gold Coast was the cherry on top of the cake – the main thing is the game went off without any noticeable dramas.

After all the pre-match concerns about air quality, travel and who could wear which guernsey, Port emphatically answered the critics.

And the fans lapped it up.

“Set aside everything else for a second – something like this brings all these people together,” Koch said.

“That’s what I love – there’s my granddaughter, playing Auskick against some Chinese kid.”

Alistair “Sandy” Payne was one of the fans keen to pat Koch on the back.

He and his wife Dr Michelle Stone are Port fans from Adelaide and they made the Shanghai match the centrepiece of a 10-day China holiday.

“We’ve been the Great Wall, Michelle’s sat next to a panda – this has been fantastic,” Payne said.

Mining magnate Gina Rinehart was also spotted in the crowd, wearing a Port scarf.

No alcohol was on sale for the general public, but no-one seemed to mind.

Cynics will point to a couple of notable sections of empty seats on the outer wing, but AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan noted all the public areas were full.

The game attracted 10,118 fans and, if anything, the AFL wants a bigger crowd capacity next year.

The AFL said about 2000 to 3000 local fans attended – it looked more like around a thousand – but they were enthusiastic and lapped up the game.

“Someone was yelling ‘go Richie, go Richie’ and then someone turned around and said ‘no, it’s Ah Chee’,” McLachlan said, referring to the Port player.

And in the end, the number of locals in the crowd is not the big test for the AFL – it’s what their government thinks of the concept.