Sunday, 8 January 2012


Port Adelaide supporters are the bane of my existence. I know, you’re probably thinking I’m understating that a bit, but I want to remain on good terms regardless of my overwhelming opinion.

My unfortunate first encounter with a Port Supporter was when I was 10 years old. Up until the age of 9, SANFL footy didn’t mean a whole lot to me. I grew up in a working class suburb called Elizabeth in South Australia (maybe a little less emphasis on the working……and a little less emphasis on class. We’re a tough mob we can handle criticism). A couple of local league lads from Central Districts came by our school to teach us the basics and plug their junior program. It was a huge success due to the fact that Elizabeth’s landscape mainly consisted of 2 things, Pubs and Ovals. Every Saturday, every family had a least one representative on a playing pitch of some sort, and every Saturday night, with a Southwark or Whisky in hand, the days matches would be discussed, argued, re-enacted and often by 2 a.m. settled!

I lived only 30 minutes walk to Centrals home ground, and got in free to most matches due to dodgy fencing behind the grandstand. At the age of 9, the atmosphere was a good as any carnival. I could yell and chant along with the cheer squad, and hurl as much abuse at the umpire without my Mum smacking me in the back of the head. I learnt some of the players nick names and addressed them as if they were my mates at the local shopping centre. “Hey Bucket Head…nice game!” Players loved cheeky know it all kids….I knew that much was true.
Well, in the summer of ’79 (a much better song title), a family moved into the housing commission house at the end of my street, bringing 3 new kids with it, roughly my age. The weirdest thing about them was that they all had orange hair…..except the Dad. When I say orange, think of an orange, then paint that bright orange! That wasn’t a problem for me, I was happy to make friends with all religions. We had an awesome summer, playing in the street till after dark, running under the sprinklers in the front yard, throwing darts and making bolt bombs….I did say it was Elizabeth. We even dressed up as Kiss and performed a rockin’ dubbed concert for the neighbours. I wasn’t allowed to be Gene Simmons, my Mum thought he was evil. Best mates we were, saw eye to eye on everything, until the footy season started. It came so out of the blue, so unexpected, there wasn’t even a hint all the time I was over their house. They were all PORT supporters. Now, I was 10, wide eyed and ignorant to the unwritten rules of friendship and footy. I thought we could work it all out, like Germany and Poland sharing a piece of Gouda with only one cheese knife. I was wrong.

War had erupted in Jeffries Street. Saturdays became a battle ground with flags and scarves marking the boundary of respective houses, an invisible barrier that no opposition could cross. Recess and a lunchtime kick at school got a little rougher than usual. When your team lost, you fully expected to receive one punch in the arm for every losing goal margin, and the local graffiti got a little personal, but you know what….we loved it! We would pretend that we were warring armies. Port had wharfies and ex-cons, while Centrals had skinheads and Jimmy Barnes, Wow! When summer came back around we were like old comrades comparing wounds, and playing in the sprinkler once more.

This went on for years, the anticipation on Saturday mornings, the thrill of every quarter, hanging your scarf out the car window on the way home, adding more badges to your already over adorned 20 kilo duffle coat, and the most important part of the whole package..a sense of belonging. Every victory your team scored, you scored. Even when they lost, you all bore the brunt as a group. The sense of poverty, struggle and social instability momentarily disappeared…you were not alone.

The reason why I like this photo (pictured above) is twofold. Firstly, one word sums up the feeling I get when I look at it…Passion. It’s after the game in the change rooms after Port Adelaide had won the 1965 premiership against Sturt by 3 points, in front of no less than 62,000 people. Secondly, it’s our biggest seller.
It’s not a staged photo, there’s no “can you all move in together?” It’s raw emotion which translates to the viewer regardless of whether you barrack for them or not. Purchasers of this photo love the fact that both Fos Williams and Jack Cahill both frame the main player group. 
SANFL footy has had a resurgence recently, even if Centrals now dominate the competition (He He!) People are once again feeling the patriotism of ‘their’ suburb, and sharing the credit for a hard fought win on the weekend. Memberships are up and the crowd is slowly growing, everyone has an opinion about footy. Let’s face, who hasn’t bought a used car from an ex-player?

I have learnt that all Port supporters are the same, argumentative, stubborn, self righteous, one eyed and blind!

I had hoped that my childhood sufferings with my ‘friends’ down the road would leave me mentally unscarred. As I write this, it has come to my attention, that the primary colours of the website that I designed are, black, white…….and orange!


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