From the prison bars to the players ‘contest, the 150th dinner, the former coaches and the coaches’ stage, the pre-season fields and the number 1 Guernsey, as Port Adelaide is using its past to fuel its latest premiership push.
On the night of Port Adelaide’s 150th anniversary dinner in February, Charlie Dixon posted a photo on his Instagram account that at first glance looked like nothing more than a regulatory selfie.
But he also revealed part of the motivation behind the push for the club’s premiership this season.
Pictured was Keith Spencer who played 161 games from 1964 to 1973, during which the Magpies won two flags from eight finals, but Spencer never earned a medal.
Next to him was Greg Phillips who has won an impressive eight premierships in 343 games, including a stint as captain and a better and fairer who rightfully landed him in the Australian Football Hall of Fame.
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Then there was Dixon, who only played two finals in his 152-game career that began on the Gold Coast and brought to Port Adelaide in 2016, and is now an Australian. And like Spencer, Dixon is still looking for that elusive premiership.
They all wore different ties – Spencer a black and white bow tie, Philips a black and white tie, and Dixon a black, white and teal – but tying them together was that they had all worn the same number and shared the same locker at the Alberton.
“Three 22”, Dixon captioned the photo with.
“Seeing the history of the club and learning more and meeting (past) players was really special,” he said The advertiser last week.
“We are looking to do something special in our 150th year and also to pay back what the founders did for us all those years ago.
“It only took me a year to be honest to really feel at home and fall in love with Adelaide and the football team, I have always made known my feelings for this football team and all the help they have given me in the past five years.”
Earlier that evening, during the club’s 150th celebration at the Convention Center, Captain Tom Jonas told the audience that Port Adelaide’s proud past was now fueling its future, which will lead to the preliminary final against Richmond on Friday night. .
“Some of the stories we heard tonight are really inspiring and we could really sit here and listen for hours,” Jonas said at the 150th dinner.
“As the current captain, I love hearing the stories of your past successes, you have created a legacy that our gaming group greatly admires and inspires us to accomplish our great feats.
“Someday we’d love to be part of a night like this so the Port Adelaide community can be as proud of us as we are of all of you tonight … hopefully in about nine months.”
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Three months earlier Jonas had sat down at a table with president David Koch and manager Ken Hinkley and was introduced as Port Adelaide’s new solo skipper.
Having broken with tradition 12 months earlier by naming Jones and Ollie Wines as co-captains for the first time, some things in Port Adelaide just seemed too sacred to part with it after all and Guernsey No. 1 that had been shelved for a year, had returned.
“We are older than Manchester United and the Yankees, so we are a significant part of football in this country and we are very proud to represent our community for 150 years,” Koch said at the opening of his press conference.
“Port Adelaide will return to the single captain leadership system that the club has had for much of those 150 years.
“We have heard loud and clear that Guernsey number one is one of those iconic traditions that are truly an important part of this club.
“And we’re delighted Tommy has become the 28th name in number one locker in 150 years.”
But what it means as much to Port Adelaide as the number on the back of its captain’s guernsey is what’s on the front, and the club refuses to mothball its black and white-striped prison bar for its existence. AFL.
He has worn the sweater five times since joining AFL in 1997, including Richmond’s 2014 elimination final and this year’s Round 2 Showdown mauling of the Crows.
Club leaders are lobbying the AFL to wear it in next season’s home showdowns and this year they will petition the AFL.
“Every time you wear it it means a lot and you represent more of yourself,” former captain Travis Boak said of the sweater.
“You have your teammates, the backstory, everyone involved in the soccer club, you have everyone involved in the Port Adelaide area. There is so much history in that sweater and every time you wear it, it’s like armor to us.
“Some of the kids also absorb that energy and there is no doubt that we made our fans proud tonight during our 150th celebration in a Showdown that represents that Guernsey.”
Once Boak was one of those kids. He arrived in Port Adelaide from Torquay on the 2006 national draft and was so indoctrinated in the “Port Adelaide manner” that, despite numerous attempts by clubs to lure him home, he never managed to leave.
For today’s recruits, indoctrination begins the day they arrive in Alberton and are greeted by Port Magpies legend Tim Ginever for a guided tour of the club.
“Tim Ginever took us through Alberton’s old stands and dressing rooms, as you know it’s great, he can talk to a brick wall for hours so it was a very fun hour and he came up with a lot of words,” said Xavier Duursma, who got the tour in 2018.
“We were introduced to the legends of the club, we learned the history of the club, the way of Port Adelaide, the attitude of the blue collar people who bring the people of Port Adelaide, to everything they do – not just the players but the community in whole.
“This club is a great community club not only with football and I think it’s huge that we’ve been doing it for 150 years.”
While some players like Duursma were introduced to Port Adelaide’s rich history upon arrival, others on the list grew up with it such as Trent Burgoyne and Jackson Mead whose fathers Peter Burgoyne and Darren Mead won premierships with Power and Magpies.
The Port Adelaide 2004 premiership link also extends to its coaching panel where premiership players Jarrad Schofield, Brett Montgomery and Chad Cornes are calling the shots as well as Dean Brogan who started the year as a part-time ruck manager before COVID struck along with Michael Wilson who was their physical therapist.
There is also a premiership flavor in the boardroom where Gavin Wanganeen and Darren Cahill – son of legendary manager John Cahill – are directors.
Former Power manager Matthew Primus was cruelly denied the 2004 premiership by injury when he was captain, but he is so loved and respected at Alberton that the club invited him back to talk to players and coaches when were in Noosa during their 2018-19 pre-season campaign.
“Some of the things I talked about were dear to me,” said Primus, who was fired as a manager in 2012 and replaced by Hinkley.
“The club, what it means to you, leadership and that kind of thing. It was nice to see some familiar faces but also the younger ones and tell them how much the club means to me.
“They have a core group here, but a lot of new faces in the last couple of years and a huge turnover on the list, so just the connection with the players and a little bit of our history in the AFL.
“As I told them, they may have lost the eight last season, but it is very close between missing the eight and making four otp and this group is not too far, but they must be able to return to play.”
The man who coached Port Adelaide before him, Mark Williams, led the club to its only AFL premiership and used his Hall of Fame induction speech in 2018 to challenge current players to make their own piece of history. .
“You players out there now playing for Port Adelaide, you have guernsey and all and yeah, that’s fine and you can think what you want,” Williams said on stage.
“But for me, I was always going past those other players and premiership teams and I thought ‘damn I have to get one’.
“I haven’t been back to Port Adelaide in a long time, but there was a free space next to the last premiership, and if you see that space next to the 2004 premiership it should guide you, why not me?”