ALLEN GREER was like so many until he became one of the chosen few to be a premiership hero for Port Adelaide.

"I first came to Alberton Oval with my father when I was about seven," recalled Greer, born in 1928 and with his upbringing influenced by the pain of a worldwide depression and war. "We couldn't afford to come in, but we would stand by the gate where the gatekeeper would finally let us in for nothing."

By 1946, with the world at peace again, Greer was being ushered through the gate at Alberton Oval as a teenager starting his league football career as a tough and adventurous defender. He was filing through turnstiles that would spin wildly across the 1950s and the following four decades while many other boys were in step with their father to Alberton Oval.

It was a ritual. Saturday, 2.20pm. 

From 1880 to today, Alberton Oval is the spiritual home of the Port Adelaide Football Club. The first game for premiership points in the newly formed SA Football Association (now SANFL) was on May 15, 1880 (with a 1-0 win against Kensington). The 1000th will be on Saturday - against West Adelaide, a long-standing rival that knows of the torment of passing the Cheltenham cemetery to find hope turn to ashes or even worse as it did one Saturday afternoon in 1962.

After 30 players had been drawn to a brawl, the umpires' notes had four West Adelaide players on report. When West Adelaide captain-coach Neil Kerley later stood before a bewildered tribunal panel with his three team-mates, "Knuckles" suggested to the tribunal chairman: "We must have been fighting among ourselves sir!" He walked away with a two-game ban.

There have been rivals who have sought a longer route to Alberton to avoid the curse of the cemetery on Port Road - and still left beaten.

But for those who know Alberton Oval as home, there are memories that never fade. And some have nothing to do with the football played on a ground that once ran east-west.

No-one forgets the man who would stand outside the northern gate with a hessian bag over a wooden tray loaded with a hot serving of pies and pasties ...

Or the half-time rush through the same gates to the black cabs lined up along Brougham Place to take us to the Alberton Hotel where Peter Brien senior would have the cold ales lined up along the bar ... and the raspberry cordial for those of us who were needing to wait a few years for a beer. 

Those murals on the pub walls - starting with the tale of Port Adelaide's six-in-a-row triumph from 1954-1959 - told a story of unparalleled success honed at Alberton Oval, starting on Sunday mornings with training sessions alongside the bagpipe band doing its own rehearsals.

When the cabs left Brougham Place during the early 1970s - Bob McLean ended that procession by securing the first liquor licence for the first social club in SANFL football on opening the Bob Quinn Stand (where there were once tennis courts) - the local lads lined up where Allen Greer had once stood in the hope of running home with a Ross Faulkner kicked out the ground by Tim Evans.

Malcolm Blight might have done the same during the early 1960s on the end of a Rex Johns kick.

There was a time when it was a winter and summer weekend habit at Alberton Oval watching Eric Freeman as a goalkicking hero as a footballer and as a Test player in district cricket with Port Adelaide.

There was the torment of being totally locked out of home in 1976 when two big men of Port Adelaide - McLean and local mayor Roy Marten - argued over the lease to Alberton Oval and home games in 1975 and 1976 being played at Adelaide Oval. It was not the first time either Port Adelaide or the SANFL clashed with council on terms for football games at Alberton Oval - a theme no longer in play with the Port Adelaide-Enfield council.

There was the repetitive joy of premiership parties, none more celebrated than 1977 to end a long, painful drought in the SANFL, and 2004 to welcome home the men who achieved national glory at the MCG.

There were Saturday afternoons when Alberton Oval housed the biggest crowds in local football - and the gatherings were pre-measured by how many cars were parked on Torrens Road to the east.

There was the drama of 1990, such as that day when the true believers made it known to an agitating media giant in Ken Cunningham that the club's reputation and honour will be defended on the turf - and terraces - at Alberton Oval. There are still many veteran SANFL players who speak of the verbal torment they endured by the war widows who lined the pickets at Alberton taking issue with anyone who roughed up a Port Adelaide boy.

The move to the AFL and of home games again to Adelaide Oval in 2014 did bring the question: A new home in the city or staying put at Alberton? Other AFL clubs - such as Collingwood and Essendon - were on the move in Melbourne. The answer was - and remains - staying true to the spiritual and traditional home of the Port Adelaide Football Club.