Port Adeaide's cheer squad celebrates a goal at Alberton Oval in 1983.

PORT ADELAIDE since 1870.

Alberton Oval since 1880.

No South Australian league football club is older.

No suburban venue in Adelaide has hosted SANFL league games for longer.

The iconic 'Unbeatable at Alberton' proudly presented in the players' race.

"Alberton means more to Port Adelaide than a home ground means to any other team," declared Harry Kneebone from his typewriter at The Advertiser when league football returned to its norm after World War II.

And this weekend the symbolic status of Alberton Oval will be noted when the longest sequence of SANFL matches outside the cradle of Adelaide Oval reaches 1000 games at the paddock that was first titled Queen and Albert Oval and sometimes Queenstown and Alberton Oval. From the start against Kensington - with a 1-0 win on May 15, 1880 - to Saturday's clash with West Adelaide, football history has been written and rewritten again and again at Alberton Oval.

It has been a fortress - and spiritual home - for the Port Adelaide Football Club. It has been a graveyard to visiting teams who are struck early with that ominous thought by needing to pass the Cheltenham cemetery to get to Alberton Oval.

Port Adelaide has honoured premierships at Alberton; rivals have celebrated rare victories at Alberton Oval as if they had triumphed in a grand final. Playing at Alberton Oval is certainly a grand challenge in league football.

Fans at Alberton Oval in the early 1970s.

Even the Norwood Football Club, one of Port Adelaide's longest-standing rivals in the SANFL, acknowledges Alberton Oval among the "greatest fortresses" in Australian football. Norwood first arrived at Alberton Oval on July 17, 1880 - and left with a 0-0 draw - and since then has won just one of every four visits. It had no win from 1922 to 1938.

"One Port Adelaide player," recalls Kneebone in his tales of South Australian football, "once told a Norwood rival on a State team trip to Melbourne, 'Your fellows are beaten as soon as they pass Cheltenham Cemetery'."

The only other SANFL survivor from that first season at Alberton Oval - South Adelaide, which drew 3-3 on its first visit on July 3, 1880 - endured the longest torment from those guardian spirits at Cheltenham with a 29-year losing streak from 1907-1936 and then 28 years from 1939-1967.

There was pain for all during the era of "The Invincibles" who let no-one win at Alberton from round nine, 1909 to round seven, 1915 - 31 games. That is how Port Adelaide built the reputation of being "Unbeatable at Alberton".

Port Adelaide's past at Alberton Oval fills volumes of South Australian - and Australian - football history.

Port Adelaide's future at its spiritual home is linked to a new future in Australian football. The club - now a well-established AFL entity - has declared its intent to move on from the SANFL, a competition it served as a founding member since 1877. This leaves the "Unbeatable at Alberton" theme to be honoured by the AFLW program, a century after Port Adelaide had a women's team play a side from Thebarton (November 3, 1918) at Alberton Oval.

Alberton Oval pictured in 1918.

HOME SWEET HOME: Port Adelaide has had five homes - Buck's Flat at Glanville where the club began on the estate of one of its founders, John Hart; Alberton Oval since 1880; Adelaide Oval during the exile in the mid-1970s and since 2014 with the AFL-inspired return of elite football to the game's city cradle; Football Park from 1997-2013; and Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai, China.

But Alberton is - and always will be - the spiritual home of the Port Adelaide Football Club.

John Formby, a former mayor of Port Adelaide, owned and donated the land that was cast as a cricket ground in 1876 and formally opened on November 8, 1877. The first to have a hit on the grounds was the touring Tasmania cricket team against the best XI of the Queen and Albert Cricket Association.

Port Adelaide was in need of a new home at the end of 1879 when Buck's Flat surrounding Glanville Hall was sold at auction and sub-divided for residential development.

On Monday, January 12, 1880 - at the Commercial Hotel at Port Adelaide - 40 footballers and cricketers of the Port Adelaide football and cricket clubs met to consider uniting for a takeover of the ground. They were told they were looking at a L100 commitment to cover the outstanding costs from recent works that included "fencing, planting couch grass and trees, laying on water, erecting a grandstand etc."

They decided a "deputation, consisting of six members of the Port Adelaide Football Club and the same number of members of the Port Adelaide Cricket Club should wait on the Queenstown and Alberton District Council and Mr Formby to see if they would allow the football and cricket clubs to hold the land on the same terms as those on which the (Queen and Albert Cricket Association) held it, and report the result to a (later) meeting."

The cricketers had the first access to this new sporting Mecca with Port Adelaide hosting a team from Clare on Friday, April 9, 1880.

On Thursday, April 22, 1880 the Port Adelaide Football Club was advertising its eagerness to set foot on Alberton Oval for its first practice match - 3pm on Saturday, the "First Twenty v Allcomers of Second Twenty". The tram, the advertisements added, would leave Port Adelaide for Alberton at 2.40pm.

The South Australian Register recorded the moment reporting: "This club (Port Adelaide) played its opening colour match on the Queen and Alberton Oval on Saturday afternoon, April 24. The contest was between 19 of the first twenty and 29 of the second twenty, and resulted in the 19 obtaining three goals to their opponents' one.

"The weather was very unfavourable for the game.

"Messrs. J. A. Atkins and S. McPherson captained the respective teams."

GAME No.1: After starting the 1880 South Australian Football Association season in the East Parklands copping a 5-0 loss from premier Norwood, Port Adelaide christened Alberton Oval as top-class football venue with a 1-0 win against Kensington on May 15.

Port Adelaide did all the scoring.

"The attendance was large," reported The Register, "as it was thought the match would be an interesting one". The South Australian Chronicle noted the crowd was "chiefly Port supporters as their cheering indicated".

Atkins lost the toss, Kensington kicked to the northern end to take advantage of a "very slight breeze". It counted for little as Port Adelaide locked the ball in its half.

Port Adelaide scored first, just before half-time with a behind from LeMessurier. The winning goal was scored by John Sidoli late in the half, from a mark and "well-judged kick".

In the second half, as Port Adelaide loaded up the scorecard with non-counting behinds, the newspaper correspondent at Alberton Oval noted with dismay how "Price, of the Ports, made a nice mark in front of the visitors' goal, but failed to score."

The Observer summed up the contest saying: "The game was a strong and fast one throughout, and the Kensingtons had to adopt defensive tactics, though the Port back men were frequently well employed."

Reports on the final score - Port Adelaide's 1.8 or 1.7 - varied as did opinions on the field umpire, Mr Channon. One newspaper described him as "satisfactory"; another declared he "did not seem altogether au fait with the rules".

Port Adelaide played all six of its SAFA rivals for premiership games at Alberton Oval in the 1880 season for a 2-3-1 win-draw-loss record - wins against Kensington and Adelaide in the first two matches; draws against South Adelaide, Victorians and Norwood in the next three games; and a loss to South Park in the season-closer.


AMONG the 999 games of SANFL football played at Alberton Oval there are significant moments that have written Australian football history. 


June 11, 1977: Port Adelaide 9.17 (71) d Norwood 10.9 (69)

Port Adelaide moved to Adelaide Oval in 1975 and 1976 while being locked out of Alberton Oval through a difficult dispute with the Port Adelaide council. The return in 1977 - the SANFL's centenary season - highlighted how much the locals had missed home. The record attendance for a league game at Alberton Oval was rewritten in mid-June when 22,738 watched Port Adelaide win an epic clash with Norwood by two points.

Bob McLean, walks across Alberton Oval with (l-r) Charles Darwent, Angelo "Onge" Congear, George Clarke, Ted McMahon and Frank Goddard in 1977 before Port's first return game at Alberton Oval since 1974.


July 23, 1988: Port Adelaide 33.24 (222) d South Adelaide 10.3 (63)

John Cahill was back for his second of three stints as Port Adelaide's SANFL league coach, after working at Collingwood in the VFL and West Adelaide in the SANFL. The Midas touch was evident again with Cahill directing Port Adelaide to another hat-trick of SANFL premierships (1988, 1989 and 1990 to follow his success in 1979, 1980 and 1981).

Port Adelaide rewrote the record books with the 33 goals against South Adelaide - and the 159-point winning margin fell just one point short of the club record at Alberton (against West Adelaide in 1903).

TIM'S 16

May 3, 1980: Port Adelaide 28.19 (187) d West Adelaide 10.10 (70)

In Port Adelaide's 110th year, Tim Evans became the club's first century goalkicker - and rewrote so many markers in the record books. His 16 against West Adelaide at Alberton Oval surpassed the club-record 15 kicked by James Tomkins (also against West Adelaide) in 1903 and Neil Hawke (against South Adelaide at Adelaide Oval) in 1957. Evans' 146 goals for the season cracked Ken Farmer's long-standing season record of 134 in 1936.

Tim Evans takes a mark at Alberton Oval.


August 22, 1903: Port Adelaide 29.12 (186) d West Adelaide 4.2 (26)

Port Adelaide closed the 1903 home-and-away season at Alberton Oval with its biggest win at the ground - 160 points against West Adelaide. Port Adelaide's 29 goals were scored by just three men - James Tomkins kicked 15.2, Matthew Healy 10 and John Francis William Mathison four.

Port Adelaide locked away the minor premiership - and set about collecting the SAFL premiership it had forfeited in 1902 in a protest to the league's umpiring appointments for the finals.

The 1903 season marked the opening of a new grandstand at Alberton Oval - the pavillion today known as the Williams Family Stand.