John Kingsmill’s Footy Diary: After the Dust


What’s going on in the Alberton swamp?

When Port Adelaide first entered the AFL
in 1997, their fans acted like cats slurping cream;
they were cockier than Paul Keating in 1993,
after winning his sweetest victory of all.

Back then, Port fans goaded the rest of us:
“Adelaide is not a real team. They have a
manufactured culture.” This week, that claim
is officially dead and buried. Port has rolled

its board. The new incarnation has two members
who live in Melbourne and a chair who lives in Sydney.
The White Shoe Brigade. Media men, legal eagles,
marketeers. Corporates. Meanwhile, negotiations

are being progressed between the AFL and SANFL
to hand the two SA licenses back to head office.
The Adelaide Crows will come out of that unscathed.
Adelaide will get money; Port will clear its debts.

Adelaide fans will barely notice any change but few
Port fans realize that they about to become
a franchise owned by the AFL, that their once-proud
community-based club will end up as a bearer

of national corporate product. It’s been 67 days
since Port gave Matty Primus his marching orders;
67 days and they’ve been unable to find an experienced
coach who’s willing to cross the border.

And that’s a thing. The club insists that its fourth coach
must come from outside of the club, outside of
that once-proud culture. The problem is that
no-one wants to come.

Fifteen years is a very short time but it’s been long
enough for Port to lose their culture and Adelaide
to entrench theirs.


  1. Simon Willcox says

    All my finance buddies say the Power have a failed business model
    So I suppose they have to try something and outside expertise will be a good thing
    I don’t think that will stop them wearing a jumper with 1870 on the back and claiming a squillion years of heritage. Which I have never understood, PAFC still plays in the SANFL
    How can they be both?

  2. John Harms says

    GWS have just signed Leon Cameron.

    I heed your warning JK.

    People will tire of the meaningless and heartless, and that will set the marketers a further challenge. To fill that void. I know many Port supporters for whom the club means so much. They, too, are trying to make sense of the troubled path ahead.

    It will require an exemplary tug boat to navigate this Sargasso.

  3. Yes, i find their fall from grace quite intriguing. The club, premised on the proud , old SANFL team, had a decent first decade in AFL ranks, with a flag, a runner up, and a fairly regular appearances in the 8 a a good measuring stick of their sucess. But, my o my, how the wheels have fallen off. It seems nobody wants to coach them, their last few seasons on the field have generally been atrocious, and now the ascension of the fly in, white shoe brigade, makes one wonder where they are headed. Is David Rodan returning to Richmond?


  4. Andrew Starkie says

    Very worried about Port. have been for a while. Can’t find a coach. Surely they need an experienced outa-towner. Couldn’t they convince Rocket? Players leaving. And Koch? Bloody hell! Big challenge for whoever takes on the job. Phoenix from the ashes, maybe.

  5. Never have alarm bells for Port rang louder than when David Koch was made president. Edelsten, anyone?

  6. Skip of Skipton says

    Koch grew up in Adelaide and was/is a Port supporter. His on screen persona from ‘playschool for grown ups’ should not be taken into account.

  7. Interesting thoughts JK. To me this highlights how much elite footy is a marriage of on and off field success. We fans rebel against the marketing and corporate-speak of the AFL by overly romanticising the blood, guts, determination and team spirit stuff.
    I was reflecting on Port being Grand Finalists in O4/07 and my Eagles in 05/06 with one premiership each. We had all the Cousins/Gardiner/Fletcher/Kerr etc etc dramas and sank to the bottom in 08/09/10. But the club had strong off-field leadership and a sound business model, that was the foundation for getting our act back together on the field in 2011/12.
    By contrast when Port started to sink there was little internal structure (leadership and financial) to provide a safety net. While Kochie and the AFL buy back are unpalatable – they are the only viable options. Beggars can’t be choosers.

  8. I’m not sure what to make of the fact Buddha Hocking wants to remain as coach, but they’re talking about everyone bar him to fill the role. The figure $10M keeps popping up, as being sought to keep the team going. Not a pretty picture.

  9. Given that Kurt Tippett leads to charge to exit SA for “lifestyle reasons”, is it now time to provide the Adelaide clubs with additional salary cap to lure players there? This would allow them to pay over the odds to offset the fact that no-one wants to live there.

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