The road to becoming a supporter of a football club can take many different avenues. Some are just brought up in the environment, others just like the clubs’ colours and some just get that feeling that this is where they belong.
For me, from a young age football was in my blood. My father was a league footballer for Sturt and always told me of the days he played against Russell Ebert, Graham Cornes, and the like, I was captivated. Before Port Adelaide made the transition into the AFL in 1997 I never had my own team, instead a player I liked to watch, and that was Tony Lockett. What a player he was and as a young child growing up I wanted to be a forward like him. But then came 1997 and Port’s introduction to the AFL.
Most of my family in Adelaide were crazy Port fans, my nanna in particular. She would go to every game at then AAMI Stadium with my aunty and sit in the same seats, rain hail or shine.
One weekend they decided to take me to a match which was Port v Sydney. Seeing players like Stephen Paxman, Nigel Fiegert, Fabian Francis, and Brayden Lyle play was just incredible. I forget the year but the noise, atmosphere and crowd remain imprinted in my memory. Port managed to win the game and on the ride home, the Power song was blasting through the old cassette tape in the car.
From this moment on I was hooked, they had converted me, much like I have tried to do with my son (still a work in progress). The love affair with the club and its history has always been fascinating to me and the fact that my father hates everything to do with Port, most likely due to the fact of his playing days with Sturt in the ’80s is a bonus.
From then on I watched what games I could as a young boy in love with the club and when my eldest brother began playing league football for the Port Adelaide Magpies, it just further enhanced my passion for the club. During the school holidays, I would travel up to Adelaide to see him as well as my mother and he made a point to always take me to Alberton Oval and have a kick around. Being a kid from the country, just being on the oval was a dream, seeing the Allan Scott Headquarters sign and the big Power logo, the grass, the stands, it was just a magical place to be.
Having a brother that played league football for the Magpies had its benefits and I did enjoy my fair share of them. Going down into the rooms before Port played at Alberton and seeing Cain Ackland and the like warming up and saying hello to me, I was star-struck, they are the guys that I had seen on TV.
Going to the club for the after-match functions and seeing all the high profile people I had watched on TV be there was just unreal, especially for a young kid. Then came perhaps the defining moment of my journey to becoming a fully pledged Power fan.
My brother had decided to take me to Alberton a little early one Saturday to watch the reserves play and he was stopped by a man. They started talking and I thought, I know his face, turns out it was Che Cockatoo-Collins. I was in awe as he was chatting to me and my brother like we were any old guys, it was so cool. For a young boy, seeing an AFL star away from the spotlight, in casual clothes just walking around was somewhat refreshing as he was just a normal guy who kicked a football around for a living.
Watching my brother play for the Magpies was one of the main reasons I became a footballer, in part so I could perhaps one day do the same. Seeing the crowd at Alberton cheering on the famous black and white prison bars of Port Adelaide, the team that my brother was playing for was something just so special that only Port Adelaide fans will be able to understand.
There have been ups and downs with the club, winning the 2004 premiership was a highlight, given that I was just 14 though, the memory has faded somewhat but the DVD is in the office ready to be watched at any moment. The number of jokes I used to get from family and friends about supporting Port Adelaide was never-ending and still has no end in sight, but I did not care as there was a love for the club that was never going to subside, no matter what people said.
During the turbulent years when tarps were put all around AAMI Stadium due to low crowd numbers in particular springs to mind but it was my club, I stood by them through the thick and thin as any good supporter should.
Fast forward to today and the love for the club is strong as ever. I look forward to seeing Port play in the AFL each week as well as the Magpies in the SANFL. Eventually moving to Adelaide will be on the cards for me and my family and the thought of going to Adelaide Oval and Alberton to watch both sides is something that I can’t wait for.
There is a famous quote that resides with me when talking about the love and passion of a football club or any sporting team for that matter.
Former Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp once said:
“When you start supporting a football club, you don't support it because of the trophies, or a player, or history, you support it because you found yourself somewhere there; found a place where you belong.
This rings true with me as a young kid and now an adult because being a Port Adelaide supporter is where I belong.