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Port Adelaide Power
119 Reasons to Never Forget History
Adelaide was founded in 1836 to be Australia's only Convict free colony and soon trumpeted that it was a “City of Churches.” It was a wowser mentality that eventually gave rise to the Adelaide Crows and its weird cult-like behaviour. Fortunately, not everyone in the city was a weirdo; rather, some were envious of the rest of Australia’s more lively Convicts and they expressed their appreciation in the creation of the Port Adelaide Football Club. Although Port Adelaide was not explicitly given Convicts as a nickname, the whole design of the club showed a subconscious appreciation for life that was more on the larrikin side.
Port Adelaide History
When Port was founded in 1870, it was a pretty weird club, as was expected of a South Australian team. Its first set of colours was blue, white and pink. Without doubt, they were the worst colour codes outside of Hawthorn. The attraction to the criminal side was first revealed in 1902 when it dropped the rainbow in favour of the black and white. In addition, it adopted the nickname Magpies, a bird associated with Convicts and their “magpie” clothing. A stronger association came in the form of the Port jumpers which were designed with prison bars to represent their home.
Aside from the colours and the nickname, the subconscious desire to be criminals came with an obsession with statistics, much like a Convict counting the days of his sentence or counting the money he has stolen. Specifically, if you encountered a Port supporter when the club first entered the AFL, he or she would inevitably cite figures asserting that, from 1870 to 1997, Port Adelaide created a record of success that was somewhat of a statistical improbability. Specifically, the club won 34 SANFL premierships and after almost 2500 games, it had notched up a 72.6% win ratio. The club had never finished lower than seventh, and had only been out of the finals 12 times.
Of course, to Victorians these statistics meant nothing because they argued that their league, the VFL, was of a superior standard. Port Adelaide's boasting was nothing more than a small time hustler wishing he could play with the big boys. In some respects, it was a hollow insult considering that interstate matches often resulted in the SANFL team emerging triumphant, thus giving credence to the argument that the SANFL title was more worthy than the VFL title.
Although the VFL and SANFL might have been a comparable standard for most of the 20th century, in the 1970s the VFL's superior financial backing had them stealing the best footballers Australia wide. After the VFL expanded into the AFL in the 80s, there was no doubt that the AFL was the future. If Port's claims of national supremacy were to have any legitimacy, then it would have to prove itself in the toughest league in the land.
Not ones to shy away from a challenge, the club put its reputation on the line by making an application to join the AFL in 1990. The move was totally unexpected and precipitated South Australian football into a period of unprecedented turmoil, controversy and confusion. Port Adelaide, already far and away the most loathed SANFL club, became even more hated in South Australia.
However, instead of giving the licence to Port, the AFL gave it to the SANFL. Not only did the SANFL accept Port’s place, it also took the Crows as a name, which had been eyed off by Port. It was not until 1997 that Port was given a chance to prove itself.
Ironically, when Port Adelaide entered the AFL, they accepted a range of restrictions that hindered their marketing. First, they were forced to change their colours and magpie name because these were claimed by Collingwood. In addition, they were told that they could not have vertical stripes on their jumper, which forced the club to discard its traditional “prison bar” jersey.
In response to the restrictions, Port Adelaide tried to keep some of its wishful prison thinking alive with some clever innovations. Initially, it considered "Pirates" as a nickname, as the name combined the criminal image they so desperately craved. With time, it took the more moderate nickname of 'Power' that referenced electric chairs. Pirates was later used for a special membership for 3-5-year-olds.
To the naive eye, Port's first jumper designs reeked of graphic designers gone mad but on reflection, they showed the subconcious desire to celebrate the dreams of inmates. One of the first featured a lightening bolt on the front. Its critics likened it to a shit taken by a Smurf, but in reality, it in referenced prisoners waiting for a storm to make a run for it. An additional jumper had ferns in clear reference to the foliage that the escapees would be hiding in.
The jumpers didn’t resonate as the prisoner associations were just too subtle for the mass market. Consequently, the club eventually adopted a black jumper with a big V that represented both a theft of the Victorian state of Origin team jumper as well as the club’s vendetta.
As well as accepting restrictions on their marketing, the club also accepted restrictions on recruiting. Specifically, most of the recruiting concessions handed to other expansion clubs were denied from Port. Despite being unfair, Port Adelaide accepted them, perhaps because it liked the image of being shackled. Needless to say, the club struggled on the field in its early years. Constant failures made the club's crowing about their history of success seem very much like a classic example of small time hood trying to talk themselves up.
"we exist to win minor premierships"
To the club’s credit, it made some headway in 2001 when it won the night premiership. It went back to back with a subsequent win in 2002. In 2002 and in 2003, the club added more silverware to their trophy cabinet by finishing the home and away season as the minor premiers. But like Collingwood, its Magpie cousin in Melbourne, Port seemed to suffer psychological problems come finals. With two consecutive McCelland Trophies but no grand final appearances, Port were the laughing stock of the football world. Their SANFL boast that "we exist to win premierships" was interpreted to truly mean "we exist to choke in September."
Despite three years of humiliation, in 2004 the club picked itself up and overcame a horrendous injury toll to again finish the home and away season on top. To the football world's great surprise they even held their nerve to finally make the grand final.
Their grand final opponent was Brisbane, the club considered the best of all time and the foe that had made chockers out of Collingwood in the previous two seasons. But it seems Port was able to overcome their psychological problems in a way that Collingwood could not. Unlike Collingwood, which laid down like a dog when Brisbane applied physical intimidation, Port stood up for themselves. They took everything that Brisbane could throw at them and powered away in the final quarter.
Port's victory gave the club some respect. In only eight years, the club had won three McCelland trophies, two night premierships and one grand final. They hadn't had the recruiting or salary cap concessions of other clubs and they had lost star players to go home factors. Port's boast about having a culture of success, and being the finest football club in Australia, seemed to have some merit.
While Port's achievements made the Power easy to admire, after winning their grand final the club showed the character that had them disliked by most decent people in Adelaide. In the SANFL, Port had built up a reputation as being somewhat of an ungracious winner. On grand final day, it became apparent this culture had been brought over to the AFL. Coach Mark Williams used his time with the microphone to criticise the club's sponsor for doubting his ability to coach. He also pulled at his tie in tribute to Port's forebears who meet their end at the gallows.
Mark Williams paid tribute to the Convict forebears with a gallows salute.
After his shower, Captain Warrren Tredrea likewise used some prison vernacular when he directed hostile thoughts towards anyone who had contraband thoughts of the Power. Specifically, he said,
Fortunately, the following year Port's premiership clock ticked past midnight and the club's unsavouriness was kept off television for a number of years. Port then commenced a period of rebuilding. To the surprise of the football world, the rebuilding window was only two years, which compared favourably to the 30-year-rebuilding window being employed by clubs such as Richmond.
In 2007, the club again made the Grand Final and predicted that a second premiership would be added to their trophy cabinet. Port then humiliated itself like no other club has ever done before. Against the Geelong Cats, a team renowned for choking on grand final day, Port became the only club in history to lose a grand final by more than 100 points. To be exact, the club lost by 119 points, which made a lovely addition for a club so fond of statistics.
Roy Morgan research
Port Adelaide Power supporters are:
2006 when compared to other AFL supporters
Note: Sounds like it was written by the Wiggles. Perhaps this is a reflection upon the Port supporter.
Adelaide Crows - The Crows took Port's place in the AFL and used their seven year's head start to achieve the success Port had been hoping for.
Collingwood Magpies - Port Adelaide alleged that Collingwood stole their magpie moniker a century earlier. (Magpie suits was the name initially given to convict uniforms. It is interesting that Australia's two most unsavoury clubs adopted the Magpie as their moniker.)
They further inflamed Collingwood fans by wearing their traditional black and white 'prison bar' jumper in the AFL's heritage round. Considering Collingwood's own close associations with Pentridge Prison, understandably Magpie fans saw it as another encroachment upon their identity.
Ironically, by defeating Brisbane in the 2004 grand final, Port ensured Collingwood's record of four straight premierships would not be equalled. Although psychological problems means future premierships are out of the question for Collingwood, at least their fans still have their past glories to live on.
Port Power jokes
1) A little boy from Adelaide had gone to Rome on holiday with his family hoping to see the Pope. Anyway, a couple of days after they'd arrived, the Pope was doing a tour of the city in his Popemobile. The little lad was a bit worried that the Pope wouldn't be able to pick him out in the crowd, so his Mum said "Don't worry, the Pope is a footy fan, so wear your Crows jumper and he's bound to pick you out and talk to you."
So, they're in the crowd, but the Popemobile drives past them, and stops a bit further down the street where John Paul gets out and speaks to a little boy in a Port Power jumper. The lad is distraught and starts crying. His Mum says "Don't worry, the Pope's driving around tomorrow as well, so we'll get you a Port jumper and then he's bound to see you."w.convictcreations.com
The next day arrives, and the boy's got on his new Port jumper. The Popemobile stops right by him, John Paul gets out, bends down and says to the lad "I thought I told you to fuck off yesterday!"
2)Whats got 100 legs and 4 teeth? Front fow of the Port Adelaide cheer squad!
3) If you see a Port Adelaide fan on a bicycle, why should you never swerve to hit him? A: It might be your bicycle.
Matthew Primus - Raging bull ruckman with legs like tree trunks. Never played in finals. Until 2004, most of his team-mates were in the same category.
Warren Tredrea - Big, strong centre-half forward. After captaining his club to its first grand final victory, made the classic Port comment: "Anyone who doubted us can stick it up their arse." Generally hated by his teammates.
Why kind of country has four codes of "football"?