JOHN Albert Rann called the meeting of the Port Adelaide Cricket Club - where he was president - to order on May 12, 1870. By the end of the session, there was a founding committee and the Port Adelaide Cricket and Football Club.

Two days later, the club had its first practice session on the "opening day" of the new football season in Adelaide. By mid-July, it was simply the Port Adelaide Football Club - and has been ever since.

Port Adelaide since 1870.

What has Port Adelaide stood for since that foundation week in May 1870? What is the essence of PORT ADELAIDE?

Unrivalled success...

P - Premierships

In 150 years of football, the first seven with no organised competition, Port Adelaide has achieved unrivalled success in South Australian football, and advanced from suburbia to a national league (with an international agenda).

36 premierships in the SANFL since being a foundation member of the SA Football Association in 1877. It has had its name on the mahogany SANFL honour board more often than any other club since 1965, after winning its 23rd flag.

The "Golden Era" was the 1950s with the six-in-a-row flags from 1954-1959.

4 Champions of Australia titles with a perfect record in four play-offs with the VFA-VFL premiers before a World War I. The last, in 1914, completed the perfect season for the "Invincibles".

3 Wartime titles - two as Port Adelaide during World War I and one during the merger with West Torrens in the 1940s.

2 AFL pre-season titles in 2000 and 2001 before Port Adelaide became the measuring stick in the national league. It won three consecutive McClelland Trophies as the AFL minor premier after winning 53 of 66 matches (80 per cent success rate) in the 2002, 2003 and 2004 home-and-away series. Football commentator Bruce McAvaney oozes admiration when reflects on these statistics that are a high mark for consistency.

1 SANFL night title, in 1989 during John Cahill's second stint as coach when he loaded up the trophy cabinet at Alberton to make the case for Port Adelaide's entry to an expanding national competition. The 1990 SANFL premiership is a statement of defiance to those who blocked Port Adelaide's move to the AFL - and wanted to banish Port Adelaide from the SANFL. The 1994 title - won with AFL boss Ross Oakley at the grand final at Football Park - ended the debate.

1 AFL premiership, won in 2004 in the club's eighth season in the national league - mirroring the eight-season build up to Port Adelaide's first flag in the SA Football Association in 1884. Such success within a decade of joining the toughest and most-demanding competition in Australian football is a testament to how Port Adelaide strives for success.

"We exist to win premierships" is the Port Adelaide mantra. The trophy cabinet at Alberton proves this is no idle ambition at Port Adelaide.

OL-I-VER! Harold Oliver flies for his iconic mark during the 1914 semi-final against Sturt.

O - "Ol-i-ver"

... and the catchcry for every other Port Adelaide hero through the decade who has filled the fans with pride. Era by era, the roll call of Port Adelaide heroes fills Halls of Fame and the game's record books: Shine Hosking, Bob Quinn, Fos Williams, Dave Boyd, Geof Motley, John Cahill, Russell Ebert, Scott Hodges, Warren Tredrea ....

Harold Oliver was the first "super star" in Port Adelaide colours (whether they were based on blue, magenta or black). His fame travelled beyond the football fields of South Australia to the battlefields of north Africa and southern Europe during World War I. Infantry men would yell "Ol-i-ver" to mark a spectacular moment in their improvised football matches. And all this well before Roy Cazaly made his name enter the game's folklore and Mike Brady's musical repertoire for his high leaping on the VFL fields.

Oliver's status as a Port Adelaide hero was noted in 1920 when Port Adelaide fans put up their money - about $34,000 in today's pay packets - to buy a Rover 3.5hp motor cycle to allow Oliver to leave his fruit block at Berri to continue as a league footballer.

The image of Oliver rising above a pack in the 1914 SAFL semi-final against Sturt with the Adelaide Oval scoreboard in the background remains one of the classical photographs in Australian football history.

"It took a bloody long time ... but by geez, it's worth it."

R - Russell

Russell Ebert. Port Adelaide's longest-serving player (391 games). A record six best-and-fairest titles (1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977 and 1981). The record with four Magarey Medals (1971, 1974, 1976 and 1980).

And those words that echo from ending the 12-year premiership drought in 1977 with the SANFL centenary premiership: "It took a bloody long time ... but by geez, it's worth it."

T - Tim Evans

And the tons that made up the thousand. Plus Tredrea - Warren Tredrea, the club's greatest goalkicker in AFL company (549); the team captain of the 2004 AFL premiership campaign (stepping up after club captain Matthew Primus was injured).

Until 1980, when Evans rewrote the SANFL record books with his 146 goals, Port Adelaide had no player crack the magical ton. "Bro" Dayman had come close in 1930 with his 89. James Prideaux took the club record to 95 in 1935. Rex Johns defied ultra-defensive football tactics in the 1950s when his best yearly count was 77 in 1957. Eric Freeman made it to the 80s in the 1960s when he mixed league football and Test cricket. Randall Gerlach reached 90 in 1976.

And in the club's 110th year, Evans - the Tasmanian recruited from Geelong to play at centre half-back in the mid-1970s - made sure there was need for extra space on the Port Adelaide honour board. He cracked the ton three times - 146 in 1980, 125 in 1982 and 137 in 1984 - and became the club's greatest goalkicker by the end of his league career with 1019 goals.

Scott Hodges, who was in the Port Adelaide cheer squad when Evans was closing his career in the mid-1980s, followed up with his three tons, starting with a rewrite of the SANFL record with 153 goals in 1990 - and then 130 in 1994 and 117 in 1996.

Evans, Hodges and Tredrea command the first three positions in the club's all-time goalkicking tally - 1019, 671 and 582 respectively.

Alberton Oval has long been a fortress for Port Adelaide, striking fear into those that dare enter the playing arena.

A - Alberton

Port Adelaide moved from its first home at Buck's Flat, Glanville to create its spiritual home at Alberton Oval in 1880. This week marks the 140th anniversary of the club's first game for premiership points - the 1-0 win against Kensington on Saturday, May 15, 1880 (1.8 to 0.0, if the full scorecard is read from an era when only goals decided the outcome of a game).

For the bulk of these 140 years, Alberton Oval has been a fortress - a point of torment for opposition teams sent into unease on passing the Cheltenham cemetery to play Port Adelaide at home.

"You'd (be down) five goals as soon as you passed Cheltenham cemetery on the way to Alberton," says Hall of Fame Legend Malcolm Blight, who spent his youth in the outer admiring Rex Johns kicking those goals in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

D - Determination. Dominance. Desire. Devotion.

In the era of the long panels, with long slogans, that hung off the perimeter fencing at football grounds, which "D" word summed up Port Adelaide best? There is a long-standing desire to succeed. This demands everyone at Port Adelaide carry a determination to achieve glory for the club. And, as Fos Williams' Creed from 1962 declares, a dominant force must emerge by striving "with all our power to further this club's unexcelled achievements".

And "that to be successful each and every one of us must be active, aggressive and devoted to this cause".

E - Elite (but not elitism in attitude)

Port Adelaide is the only non-Victorian member of the 18-team AFL national competition to rise from a suburban league. The emphasis of the 1990 campaign was built on the want to be challenged in the best competition of Australian football: To be among the elite.

If one lesson has stuck at Alberton during the move to professionalism in the AFL, it is to respect every part of the fan base - in particular the traditional base while others sought to take the Port Adelaide out of Port Adelaide. Never Tear Us Apart.

Port Adelaide is its people, its community.

Bob McLean (front right) celebrates Port Adelaide's incredible achievement of five consecutive premierships during his proclaimed "golden era"

L - Leadership

Only one SANFL club administrator has Australian Football Hall of Fame status - Port Adelaide's longest-serving (1949-1980) secretary-general manager Bob McLean. He set the standard for leadership at Alberton - and beyond, particularly alongside coach Fos Williams when they were chairman of selectors and coach respectively of the SANFL State teams.

Port Adelaide has a long story of leadership in Australian football. It was at the table in April 1877 when the South Australian Football Association was formed as the first controlling body in the colonies for Australian football.

In the past three decades, Port Adelaide has led in the debates on SA's presence in the AFL (at great personal cost to 1990 president Bruce Weber); ending the 40-year Cold War between the SANFL and SA Cricket Association to return top-class football to a redeveloped Adelaide Oval and independence (from the SANFL) of the SA-based AFL licences (battles that demanded much of president Brett Duncanson).

Port Adelaide has shown leadership in advancing Australian football - "the best game in the world" - beyond Australia in a world that watches sport on a screen more than ever before.

And leadership in community aspirations, particularly in advancing the health, education and well-being of Australia's indigenous people.

One Club. One History. One Future. #nevertearusapart

A - Anthem

"Never Tear Us Apart" is more than a 60-second countdown anthem before the first bounce of Port Adelaide's home AFL matches at Adelaide Oval. It is a statement on how Port Adelaide people should command the destiny of its football club.

One Club. One History. One Future. This was the concept that came from reuniting Port Adelaide along AFL-SANFL lines in 2010, after the club was forced into separation by the SANFL's terms on issuing the AFL licence in December 1994.

Leaders on both sides of the forced divide - in particular Brett Duncanson from the AFL entity and Bruce McFarlane from the SANFL heart of Port Adelaide - in November 2010 completed the campaign always remembered from the public image set by Port Adelaide premiership team-mates Tim Ginever and George Fiacchi.

And a decade later, with the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the exercise might need to be repeated.

I - Invincibility

The 1914 "Invincibles" stand as Port Adelaide's perfection in one dream season. Unbeaten in 12 home-and-away games while more than doubling the score amassed by its six SAFL rivals in those matches (1068 to 510 with an average winning margin of 43 points). Commanding in the major round, winning the semi-final against Sturt by 54 points and the grand final against North Adelaide by 79 while conceding only one goal. Champions of Australia for the fourth time by beating VFL premier Carlton at Adelaide Oval by 34 points. The perfect run was completed with a win against the best of the rest of the league competition at Jubilee Oval (across from Adelaide Oval).

The club's dominance of the season also is reflected in the individual awards with Jack Ashley honoured with the Magarey Medal; Jack Dunn topping the goalkicking list (33) and Jack Robertson hailed as the best South Australian at the Australian carnival in Sydney where the club had seven State representatives. 

D - Domination

Fos Williams arrived at Alberton in 1950, taking up the captain-coach role after Port Adelaide advertised the position amid the frustration of not securing a clearance for first-choice candidate Jim Deane at South Adelaide. The gamble with Williams, a premiership rover at West Adelaide, had the most-extraordinary pay-off that set up Port Adelaide's commanding image in the second half of the 20th century.

From 1951 to his retirement as a player after the 1958 grand final, Williams led Port Adelaide to seven grand finals and won six flags (five in a row from 1954).

From his return as non-playing coach in 1962 to 1968, Port Adelaide played in seven consecutive grand finals and won three premierships - the 1965 title making the club the most successful in SANFL history.

From 1953, Williams led Port Adelaide to grand finals in each of his 13 seasons as coach (1953-1958 and 1962-1968). Port Adelaide never ranked lower than third in Williams' playing seasons (1950-1958).

No wonder Bob McLean called it the "Golden Era".

E - Enduring

For all the hits Port Adelaide has taken - from the depression-fueled loss of players in 1896; the refusal to play in the 1902 finals series in protest to the league's umpiring appointments; the financial crises in the 1980s and late 2000s; and the drama of the 1990 bid to enter the expanding VFL-AFL - the club has dusted itself down, reset and delivered more pride to its community.

This is Port Adelaide, since 1870.


(Five things we have learned this week)

1) Rebuilding the AFL national grid for the re-start of the "home-and-away" season is to be as challenging as settling on a national guage for Australia's railway network. So it will be more away than home for the WA and SA-based AFL teams - and seemingly longer away for West Coast and Fremantle while WA Premier Mark McGowan makes it very clear how he feels about those delegations asking him to open the WA border: "We're not listening to them."

2) History lessons are in order again. There are just two foundations clubs left in the SANFL - Port Adelaide and South Adelaide. Only these two clubs remain from the first SA Football Association season in 1877 that opened with Port Adelaide, South Adelaide, Victorian, Adelaide, Woodville (but not the Woodville that entered the league competition in 1964), South Park, Kensington and Bankers. Norwood emerged in 1878.

3) Often it is not what is said, but what is heard that can create quite a storm in the echo chamber of Australian football. Port Adelaide premiership midfielder Kane Cornes does not rate highly the much-hailed mark by Carlton legend Alex Jesaulenko from the 1970 VFL grand final. It would be interesting to look over the top-50 list of great marks in Australian football - and not just in the VFL-AFL.

4) With everyone focused on the vagaries of the traditional 22-round AFL fixture - and its purported biases - is this the time to put on the table the pros and cons of radical change to a conference system. And for those who argue there is no need for the AFL to take on another American sporting theme - after adopting the salary cap and draft - take note the VFL worked the conference theme first: In 1898, 1899 and 1900.

5) Grandma's adage still holds true: "It takes just one ..."