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Port Adelaide Power

Port Adelaide Power

Big fish in small pond

     

In the SANFL, the Port Adelaide Magpies were a big fish in a small pond. Now in the AFL, they have found that their incarnation as the Port Adelaide Power is nothing but a small fish in a big pond. Both on and off the field, the Power is a laughing stock. On the field, they have suffered the largest grand final defeat in VFL/AFL history and twice didn't even make the grand final after winning the minor premiership. Off the field, they just can't draw a fan.

Most of the Port Adelaide's problems have stemmed from their arrogance. As a big fish in the South Australian football league, they were so confident of AFL success that they allowed themselves to be shafted in both recruiting and marketing. Even with one hand tied behind their back and rocks in their shoes, they believed they would be successful. They were wrong.

Port Adelaide History

From 1870 to 1997, Port Adelaide created a record of success that is somewhat of a statistical improbability. It 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 fish thinking it was big time in a small pond. 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 poaching 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.

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 moniker 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 do discard its traditional “prison bar” jersey.

Port jumpers

The Port Adelaide Magpies jumper was a great design that was both innovative and traditional. Instead of working with the design to create something that wouldn't clash with Collingwood, but still retained the aesthetic elements of their tradition, Port discarded their jumper completely and created abominations.

Abomination 1 - The prisoners are waiting for a lightening storm to make a run for it

Port Adelaide

Abomination 2 - The prisoners have escaped, and are now looking through jungle ferns.

 

It has to be said that Port didn’t put up much of a fight when accepting the restrictions. A new moniker and an additional colour would have been sufficient to distinguish the club from Collinwood. Changing the jumper template was not necessary. Perhaps Port accepted the restrictions because it was so desperate to enter the AFL that it was prepared to be shafted. Perhaps it believed the restrictions would give its marketers the excuse to be bold, innovative and different in way that allowed them to target a new market. Either way, the consequence of being bold, innovative and different was a club with a hideous name, colours and jumpers. Yes, it was bold, innovative and different, and all normal people quite rightly rejected it.

 Port Adelaide adopted the name " Power" and added teal (a sea-sick coloured blue) and silver to their black and white. They also created jumpers that reeked of graphic design students gone mad.

As well as accepting restrictions on their marketing, the club also accepted restrictions on recruiting. Most of the recruiting concessions handed to other expansion clubs were denied from Port. Despite being unfair, Port Adelaide accepted them. 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-dog syndrome.

"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. Likewise, captain Warrren Tredrea used his time with the microphone to declare:

"Anyone who doubted us can stick it up their arse."

Fortunately, Port's premiership clock ticked past midnight and the club's unsavouriness was kept off television. 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.

Port's showing demeaned the AFL brand and immediately led to calls that they should be kicked out of the AFL and returned to the SANFL. All 49 members of the club vented their disgust with the players, while the club tried to placate them with vows of a 5,000 strong hostile crowd in the grand final rematch at Port's home ground.

 

 

Roy Morgan research

Port Adelaide Power supporters are:

2001

  • 41% more likely than the average person to be in the lowest (FG) socio-economic group;
  • 41% more likely to be earning less than $10,000 per year;
  • 29% more likely to smoke cigarettes than the average Australian;
  • 23% more likely to own a cat.

2006 when compared to other AFL supporters

  • Made up of 77% South Australians
  • 20% more likely to be renting their home
  • 39% more likely to sometimes use force to get things done
  • 27% more likely to agree you can tell a person by the type of car they drive 
  • 47% more likely to have bought goods on lay-by in the last three months

Theme song

We've got the Power to win
Power to rule
Come on, Port Adelaide aggression
We are the Power from Port
It's more than a sport
It's true Port Adelaide tradition
We'll never stop, stop, stop
Til we're top, top, top
There's history here in the making
Port Power to win
We'll never give in
Til the flag is ours for the taking

With our tradition so strong
We can't go wrong
We're the Alberton crowd
Port Adelaide proud
And the heroes are those
Who've earned the right
To wear the silver - teal
And black and white
And the Port supporters
Standing tall
True believers
One and all

We've got the Power to win
Power to rule
Come on, Port Adelaide aggression
We are the Power from Port
It's more than a sport
It's true Port Adelaide tradition
We'll never stop, stop, stop
Til we're top, top, top
There's history here in the making
Port Power to win
We'll never give in
Til the flag is ours for the taking

Note: Sounds like it was written by the Wiggles. Perhaps this is a reflection upon the Port supporter.

Rivalries

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.

 

Icon

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.

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  Was this more interesting than a news update of players in a recovery session standing around in the ocean looking cold or of a team 'training without incident'?