THIS article appeared in the Advertiser’s sports pages on 1 August 1990 as the reality of Port Adelaide’s surprise bid to join the AFL sunk in.

Port Adelaide, South Australia’s most successful league club, had decided to join the big league evolving in Victoria.

By the first of August, South Australian football had been turned upside down as city hall – SANFL headquarters at West Lakes – began to move against Alberton.

Port Adelaide, in the meantime, was going full steam ahead. 

Debbie Baldock was one of many at the Bob McLean Bar beneath the grandstand at Alberton Oval at the end of July as Port Adelaide was confirmed as the previously unverified club pushing to join the AFL.

There with her infant son Brad who, at just three months old was oblivious to the hubbub around him, she worried about what the future had in store for the Baldocks’ favourite club.

“When he was born, he had no choice – he had to be a Port Adelaide supporter,” Debbie said at the time.

“Now there is a question mark over who he will barrack for.”

Chief among her concerns, as with many supporters, was the sudden nature of the revelation.

There had been no member consultation before the news broke, and joining the national competition meant fans would need to travel every second week.

At the time, Debbie wanted to stay in the SANFL, not join the national competition, for fear her club would be inaccessible, and not part of the fabric of South Australian football.

As journalist Lawrie McCauley wrote, “Brad already has a black and white football. Like most Port fans, he would have been brought up believing the club was the greatest thing in South Australian football.”

“By the time Brad is old enough to understand, the events of last night could have entirely eroded or strengthen that perception of the club.”

WAR: Port Adelaide fights the rest of SA footy to get into the AFL

So, who does young Brad support now?

Wind the clock 25 years forward from the day of that interview.

The Baldocks – Debbie and Brad – now 25 – and father Jeff and later arrival Carly – still live in the western suburbs of Adelaide.

They are still card-carrying members who see every Port Adelaide home game.

But now they watch their team play in the AFL, despite the original bid that generated so much uncertainty that night falling over in August 1990. visited the Baldocks to find out what had changed for them since 1990.

Brad and Carly Baldock are the two young fans pictured next to club patriarch Fos Williams in this photo. It appeared in the Advertiser on 5 June 1996 on the eve of the club's first AFL season. Also pictured are the club's players, volunteers and staffers. [pic: Advertiser/Leon Mead 1996]

THE FIRST BID: 25 years since Port Adelaide changed footy forever

Bleeding black and white...and teal

“We love Port Adelaide, we follow them anywhere,” Debbie says.

“We can’t go interstate all the time, but we do try to make two games a year. We went to Sydney, to last week’s game in Melbourne, and we’re going to the Gold Coast.

“I don’t get to see the Magpies anymore, but [husband] Jeff still goes to see the Magpies play every week, and I get behind the Power every time they’re playing at Adelaide Oval.

“We didn’t want to go in originally, because we thought it would be the end of the Magpies.

“As it happened the [SANFL] competition hasn’t been the same was what it was years ago for the Magpies, we’re happy with the way things have turned out for the club.

“Getting the AFL premiership was unbelievable, we probably should have had a few more at the time, but we missed our opportunities, and we were hoping this year was going to be a good one as well – but you never know.

“It would have to be that prelim final against St Kilda when we got into the grand final. I was there crying my eyes out.

“All the Magpie premierships are always good memories. 2004 being in the AFL meant a lot more.”

Jeff, Carly, Debbie and Brad Baldock at their family home. All continuous members of the club since before the first bid even happened [pic:]

Now an adult of 25, Brad has fond memories like many of his generation of following the club in the SANFL as the Magpies, but then making the step up into the AFL as one of the first generations of Power supporters.

“I remember early games against Norwood at Footy Park, and I used to go kick the footy at half time at Magpies games.

“Pretty much every week I’d go along with Dad to watch, I remember to going to all of the games before I turned seven.

“We go to every home game for the Power and have done since ’97.

“I was glad that we had an AFL team – the Power – and instantly started hating the Crows, I remember when we beat them in the Showdown, I had a little blonde mullet, and it was a big deal getting that win.

“We rose pretty quickly for a new AFL side, we were up-and-about in ’99 and the early 2000s.

“I’m passionate about the club, it doesn’t take too much to fire me up when we have a discussion among my mates or at work.

“I bleed black, white and teal.”