Tim Ginever at Alberton Oval - a place he has spent a significant part of his life. Image: Roger Wyman/The Advertiser.


And in one league with one jumper.

It is the vision of a man who drove the premiership success that took Port Adelaide to the AFL - and was bewildered at how this singular focus did not apply from 1997 when Port Adelaide took its place on the national stage.

Even so, no-one was more visible - appearing in posters, nonetheless - than Tim Ginever in the fight to keep Port Adelaide financially afloat and relevant in the SANFL at the start of the century.

Along with his Port Adelaide premiership team-mate George Fiacchi, Ginever then was most vocal in the fight to win SANFL approval in 2010 to reunite the Port Adelaide Football Club after more than a decade of fraction along the SANFL-AFL divide. One Club ...

Today, 30 years after Ginever masterfully changed the course of the 1994 SANFL grand final to Port Adelaide's favour against a fast-starting Woodville-West Torrens while AFL chief Ross Oakley admired from the plush seats at Football Park just what he could add to the national league in 1997, his reflections and wishes are more relevant than ever.

One club, he has. But Ginever wants it seen for what it is - an AFL club. And that AFL club - with teams in the AFL, AFLW and a new national reserves competition - should have one guernsey. His choice of jumper might surprise many.

But first, his reflections on the past 30 years.

GINEVER is the living testimony of all Port Adelaide was for more than a century leading up to the momentous off-field triumph in December 1994 when the SANFL agreed to sub-licence its second AFL licence to the Port Adelaide Football Club.

He had come to Alberton as a boy from the now-lost LeFevre peninsula recruiting zone allocated to Port Adelaide as an SANFL club. He rose through the ranks to league status in 1983 while one of his heroes, Russell Ebert, started his league coaching chapter at Alberton. He marvelled at standing next to footballers, club greats such as Tim Evans, after his teenage years were spent cheering his legends from the terraces around Adelaide suburbia.

He played 314 SANFL league games from 1983 until the first season of "two Port Adelaides" in 1997.

He coached Port Adelaide in the SANFL during the darkest hours of division from 2006-2009. 

He campaigned for his club to be united with the ultimately successful One Club campaign in 2010.

But he had expected it to be very different from December 1994 when club president Greg Boulton returned from SANFL headquarters at West Lakes holding the AFL licence that fulfilled everyone's desires at Alberton.

That night, Ginever - just two months after lifting the Thomas Seymour Hill trophy as premiership captain - thought he had played for the Port Adelaide Football Club for the last time.

"Me, Roger Delaney, Rohan Smith (long-serving players in an ultra-successful SANFL era) were asking ourselves, 'Okay, the club now goes to the AFL ... and what do we do?" recalls Ginever.

The bidding for the AFL licence demanded - by SANFL terms - that the winning club leave the State league so it could return to an eight-team competition, removing the awkward bye from the fixture. There was to be no duplicity.

"Port Adelaide was going to the AFL and, at our age, we were not going to be part of the club's first AFL squad," adds Ginever who was 28 when the 1994 season ended.

"We were thinking, as a group, let's go to Port Districts. Let's have some fun. We were not hanging around the SANFL (as a club or as ex-Port Adelaide players).

"And then they told us the SANFL was keeping Port Adelaide in the SANFL. We were stunned."

Ginever did not learn the finer details of Port Adelaide's need - on SANFL orders - to exist in two leagues (AFL and SANFL) as two clubs (Port Adelaide and Port Adelaide Magpies) until many years later at lunch with the club's inaugural AFL chief executive Brian Cunningham.

"What happened that day in 1994 when they went to collect an AFL licence and were told they had to stay in the SANFL as well shocked me," Ginever said. "I asked, 'What did you do?'

"Brian told me, he and Greg (Boulton) came out of that meeting stunned. They sat down, put together a business plan for an SANFL club in just 10 minutes. 

"I had to ask Brian how long they thought the club could last in the SANFL. They thought, three years.

"But as (former team manager and board member) Jim Nitschke says, don't underestimate the power of that (black-and-white jumper). There is a powerful emotional draw with that jumper ...

"There were Port Adelaide supporters giving their last cent to make sure they could see that black-and-white jumper on the football field."

Ginever - and those Port Adelaide diehards left to maintain a team and Port Adelaide traditions in the State league - certainly played on that emotional equity when the SANFL club hit the wall. Hence, the famous poster of Ginever posing with the things that had disappeared in his time - lace-up jumpers, the $2 note and now he was asking if the "Magpies" were next.

"It was a real shock to me that we stayed in the SANFL (after the AFL licence was won) ... but how was that going to ever work?" reflects Ginever.

TIME told that emotional divide between the Port Adelaide in the AFL and the Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL demanded too much of the traditional fan base.

"We cannibalised each other," says Ginever.

But who was the "real Port Adelaide"?

"I always see only one Port Adelaide no matter where we play," says Ginever. "Whatever team takes to the field in whatever competition we play, it is PORT ADELAIDE.

"We went to the AFL to be the best among the best, right?" adds Ginever. "I always say Port Adelaide in the AFL is the Port Adelaide I had always known; the Port Adelaide that I grew up with; the Port Adelaide that was braver than anyone else to ask to play in the best competition in the land.

"But someone else outside our club (the SA Football Commission) decided there would be two Port Adelaides.

"And every time Port Adelaide was in financial trouble in the SANFL, we would rattle the can and as many as 10,000 members from the AFL club would be drawn back to the SANFL. And with time they would bleed back to the AFL.

"That damaging divide brought hate towards the Port Adelaide in the AFL. That is why we needed to be one club."

By 2010, after both the SANFL and AFL teams hit dark chapters in their financial books and on the scoreboard, the "One Club" theme was more than a necessity, even if it took two attempts to convince the SANFL masters who had split Port Adelaide in two. Four years later, with independence of the AFL licence secured from the SA Football Commission, the reunification was complete on the field with all Port Adelaide players in one program at Alberton rather assigned to SANFL rivals ... 

"It is much better with all Port Adelaide players at Port Adelaide ...," says Ginever.

But it is not perfect.

"It is a different agenda in the SANFL," notes Ginever recognising it is the Port Adelaide reserves team - not the seniors - in the SANFL league competition. "Those SANFL lads are battling their asses to do their best, but ...."

SO, if Ginever could turn back the clock - or sit as football's emperor today - how would he structure Australian football and Port Adelaide's place in the game?

One club. One league. One jumper. 

"We," says Ginever, "would have 18 AFL clubs on equal footings - each with a seniors team in the AFL national competition; each with a reserves team in a new competition (but not the SANFL); each with an academy squad. 

"I would have liked to have seen that from the beginning. 

"From the moment (club president) Bruce Weber bravely dropped the bombshell in 1990 that we wanted to be in the AFL - the best competition - there needed to be change."

Ginever's position on which jumper Port Adelaide wears reinforces his position on the "one Port Adelaide" theme.

"That black-and-white jumper should be seen only at the highest level of football (AFL)," says Ginever. "I love seeing it in the Showdown. I also want to see it in games where there is no clash issue - wear it against Gold Coast. 

"Honour that jumper. Don't wear it every week. I love the guernsey we have now (the Lucy Burford-designed black jumper that reaches its 15th anniversary on July 19).

"And if we are staying in the SANFL, wear the Port Adelaide black-white-and-teal jumper there. The traditional black-and-white jumper must live to the words of Fos Williams' Creed. It is a jumper for the best team in the club - not the development team.

"In the SANFL we are made to look like 'the Port Adelaide of old'. That is not our agenda in the SANFL now. That purpose has moved to the AFL. And it is time we reflect that by what we wear in the SANFL.

"That Lucy Burford jumper is fantastic. As Dwayne Russell says, instead of going to a marketing agency for a new jumper we took our new look from a girl with a pony tail. How great is that? Love you Lucy Burford.

"I understand how people will react. I know what that jumper means to our Port Adelaide people. I know the emotions attached. Jim Nitschke's statement still echoes with me. But the black-and-white jumper in the SANFL has carried the One Club logo - and not the Magpies symbol - since 2020. That jumper has reached its limit in the SANFL. I would take it out of the SANFL now. It is designed to live to the values of the Creed. You cannot do that in the SANFL now. It belongs to the most senior team at Port Adelaide. It needs to be worn in the AFL."

One club.

One league.

One jumper.

Never Tear Us Apart.

"It is a great anthem," says Ginever. "We are One Port Adelaide."