It’s an exciting time if you’re a Port Adelaide supporter. It may not seem like it, but it definitely is.
As a Collingwood supporter, I would know. What is happening at Alberton now is almost a carbon copy of the change that swept through Victoria Park towards the end of the previous century.
On October 2 last year, Sunrise co-host and financial commentator David Koch was announced as new Chairman of the Port Adelaide Football Club. Having previously been the number 1 ticket holder, Koch felt it was time to help the club he held so dear.
The numbers 119 still haunt the club today, and it’s fair to say Port Adelaide has not been the same, on and off the field, since they went down to Geelong by that record-breaking margin in the 2007 Grand Final.
The following season was a disappointment for the club, failing to make the finals after an impressive young squad took the team to the grand final just a year earlier.
In 2009, financial problems struck the club. Port Adelaide was in debt, $5.1 million in debt to be exact, and the club was struggling to pay players. The SANFL and the AFL gave the club a combined $3.5 million in debt relief and the crisis was averted momentarily.
Mark Williams resigned mid-way through the 2010 season and favourite son Matthew Primus was made interim coach and later appointed to the role full time, however the team continued to perform poorly. The ‘One Club’ movement to merge the SANFL and AFL teams failed to deter crowds and membership continuing to drop and in doing so Port Adelaide failed to pick up sponsors.
The club played their first game at Adelaide Oval in the last round of 2011, defeating Melbourne to avoid the wooden spoon. The move to the city in 2014 is seen as a godsend, as it is far easier to access than their current West Lakes home ground and is expected to boost crowds.
The scenes of Matthew Primus walking into the rooms midway through the final quarter during Port Adelaide’s clash with the GWS Giants in Round 19 2012 was a distressing sight. The Power went down to the new kids on the block and it spelled the end for Primus.
Then the club hit rock bottom. Recruit John McCarthy was found dead on an end-of-season trip to Las Vegas. We all know the story well. The club would lose players to free agency and their preferred new coach Leon Cameron then signed on with the Giants, leaving them with the so-called ‘second option’ Ken Hinkley, who had been overlooked for many senior coaching roles in the past.
Port Adelaide starts anew from the 2013 season. Chairman Koch has already announced his intentions to turn the club around and so far it is working. French car-manufacturer Renault has signed on as a major sponsor while membership is at a record high for this time of the year.
Under his chairmanship, Koch has also told the football world that the bay covers will be removed as soon as possible. They will no longer be the butt of everyone’s jokes.
On the field a rebuilding process is in place, and it will take a while for this side to click. However, with the combination of high draft-picks such as Ollie Wines, elite players like Travis Boak and experienced players in Kane Cornes, the result will be something special.
When Eddie McGuire was appointed president of Collingwood in October 1998, few thought that they would become what they are today. David Koch will turn Port Adelaide back into a powerhouse, pun intended, just like they were back in their SANFL days.
Mick Malthouse and Nathan Buckley were unveiled as coach and captain to the media in a Renault in 1999, could it be an omen of what is to come for Port?