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Sliding Doors: Monday, July 30, 1990

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Roar Rookie
10th May, 2021
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There has been a lot of talk around about what has and hasn’t been agreed to in the past over Port Adelaide’s entry into the AFL – as well what is or isn’t their history and why they care now but apparently haven’t before.

The question that comes up is; what if the SANFL didn’t change their mind about not being ready to join the AFL until at least 1993? What if the Adelaide Crows – formed by the SANFL in conjunction with all of its clubs bar Port Adelaide to block Port’s entry – had never been created?

On Monday, July 30, 1990, a Port Adelaide board meeting lasting over 10 hours resulted in the club and the AFL commission signing a Heads of Agreement for Port Adelaide to enter the AFL in 1991.

The same night in Ross Oakley’s Melbourne office, he, Alan Schwab, Jeff Browne and the AFL commissioners were also working on the wording of a Heads of Agreement.

The document was signed by representatives of both parties to it, by an exchange of faxes late that evening. It was a seven-page, 15-point agreement. Point number nine is interesting, especially for those that think Port have only cared about their history and the ‘prison bars’ now and not in the past. This isn’t something that just happened overnight.

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Part 9: The commission agrees that Port Adelaide shall participate in the AFL competition under the name ‘Port Adelaide’ and with players wearing its existing SANFL playing uniform subject only to changing its football socks and changing its Club emblem of ‘The Magpies’ so as to avoid confusion with the uniform and emblem of the Collingwood Football Club and subject to Port adopting an alternative uniform involving minor changes for matches between Port and the Collingwood Football Club, such changes to be approved by the Commission.

Source: Ashton, N. (2018). Destiny: How Port Adelaide put itself on the national stage pp. 66-67

This has been a long-standing issue and was even an issue noted by the club earlier in the 1980’s when things were moving at a snails pace in regards to a club from South Australia joining a national competition.

Also of note was a meeting on Saturday, July 7, 1990, Bruce Webber went to Melbourne for a meeting with Alan Schwab.

One of the points discussed was Port wanting to retain their name, famous jumper design and nickname “Magpies” with a neutral set of jumpers being required when they played Collingwood. A quote from the meeting was, “As a person who has seen this club play many many times, I cannot imagine them being anything else but Port Adelaide and wearing that guernsey whenever possible”. Also stated though, was, the question of two teams being called the Magpies from a marketing point of view – a real problem to be carefully considered.

I bring this point up because as by the time of the Heads of Agreement meeting on the 30th July, Port obviously had understood that the Magpie name and emblem was just not going to be possible. To me, that was a show of respect to Collingwood and the AFL at the time and we’ve always agreed to this as it’s a no-brainer.

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I don’t like giving opposition supporters ammunition, but this is something Crows supporters can always use against us. If it wasn’t for the SANFL doing a backflip on not wanting to join the AFL until at least 1993, going by this agreement at the time in 1990, right now we wouldn’t be having this debate.

There would also be no arguments over what is or isn’t our history – like we don’t know.

Also of note, in all the documents and agreements made, it is the “Port Adelaide Football Club” that is stated and has signed the relevant documentation or agreements – including our AFL license in 1996. Then-president Greg Boulton stated “We’ve always been Port Adelaide who, in December 1995, signed a license that was titled Port Adelaide Football Club AFL, not Port Power Football Club AFL.

So not a new club or a made up club but an already established football club – with the history that comes with that. Whether it be SANFL or AFL, it is the football club’s history and the only reason we have a team in the AFL today.

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