Dear Members and Supporters,
Four days prior to officially stepping into the role of CEO, I was given my first lesson into what it actually means to represent the Port Adelaide Football Club, and the responsibility that goes with it.
It was late 2011 and the team was preparing to play Melbourne at the Adelaide Oval, as a pre-cursor to our official arrival at the ground two years later.
When chatting to a long term member, who was enjoying the opportunity to watch his team train at the iconic ground for the first time in over 30 years, I asked him about his relationship with the Club. His answer startled me.
He said he supported the Power in the AFL, but he loved the Magpies. “I know the Power are Port Adelaide, and they are the future of the Club, but the Magpies live in my soul.”
And here’s the kicker…he then said, “I don’t believe the Club is showing the Magpies the respect they deserve.”
This shocked me, because as an ‘outsider’ I had only ever seen Port Adelaide as Port Adelaide.
To me, Port Adelaide in the AFL looked, felt and acted like the Port Adelaide that I grew up barracking for as a kid, and competing against as an adult.
They were tough, relentless, had a bit of swagger about them, and seemed to have this fierce, fanatical will to win…every time they played!
Yes, they were struggling a bit at the time, but Port Adelaide was Port Adelaide!
The discussion with my new mate at the Adelaide Oval opened my eyes to the complexity we face at Port Adelaide as we nurture and protect the great traditions and long held values of a Club that has enjoyed more success than any other, whilst at the same time ensuring that we are suitably equipped and prepared to deliver premierships in perhaps the most competitive sporting competition in the world.
Back in 2011 it was clear that we did not have the balance right.
We were uncompetitive at both the AFL and the SANFL level.
And even more debilitating for the future prospects of the Club; we were divided.
On field, our football programs were divided by the regulations governing the South Australian game.
Off field, uncertainty existed as to what the modern Port Adelaide Football Club should look like.
The result was a lack of decisiveness, which ultimately threatened the very identity of our iconic Club.
Our members could see it, and stayed away.
We were vulnerable.
Two legends of the Club, Tim Ginever and George Fiacchi, were alert to the threat.
They’d begun the ‘One Club’ campaign to galvanize our members and strengthen the financial position of the Club.
And the Club rallied.
It then took the decision to fight to combine the Club’s AFL and SANFL football programs, despite enormous opposition from the other SANFL Clubs, and won… uniting the Club’s on field program for the first time since entering the AFL in 1997.
This was an unpopular, heart-wrenching decision because it meant giving up our talent zones…but the Club made the decision to ensure that our AFL program had the best opportunity to develop its squad and the Magpies could once again challenge for premierships in the SANFL.
Again in 2018, faced with the prospect of being uncompetitive at the SANFL reserves level and too restricted in our ability to retain and recruit quality players for the Magpies, the Club made the tough decision to withdraw from the reserves competition in 2019, in return for improved recruitment opportunities which we believe will again strengthen the Magpies league side.
These were all very significant decisions, which have re-shaped our football Club over the past 7 years.
All made with consideration to one criteria above all others: Will this decision help us win, and make us a better Club?
The elevation of Ollie and Tom to the esteemed position of Co-Captains and Hamish as Vice-Captain of the Port Adelaide Football Club is a wonderful achievement for these three fine young men.
Their complimentary leadership skills and connection to our playing group are absolutely compelling.
The way they play the game and commit themselves to this Club could not be more Port Adelaide.
They will lead this Club boldly and with great courage, and I can’t wait to see them lead us out in Round 1 against the Demons.
No-one values tradition more than the Port Adelaide Football Club.
In fact, there may only be one thing more important to its people.
And in a game where the margin between winning and losing at the highest level of the game is excruciatingly small (as we know better than most), this Club has always made the toughest calls to give our teams their best chance of success.
I often wonder whether my old mate from the training session in 2011 truly understood the significance of our conversation when he first heard us play Never Tear Us Apart?
Change will always challenge us, but we must embrace it…if it gives us a better chance of success.
And we must do it together.
Winning in this competition is too hard to do it any other way.
Congratulations Ollie, Tom and Hamish.
Can’t wait for the season to get started.
We Are Port Adelaide.
Dear Members and Supporters,