Port Melbourne
Names
Full namePort Melbourne Football Club
Nickname(s)Borough, Port
2023 season
Home-and-away season15th
Club details
Founded1874; 150 years ago (1874)
Colours  Blue   Red
CompetitionVFL: Senior men
VFLW: Senior women
VBFL: Blind (mixed)
PresidentMichael Shulman
CEOPaul Malcolm
CoachAdam Skrobalak
Captain(s)Harvey Hooper
PremiershipsVFA/VFL (Div 1) (17) VFLW (1)
Ground(s)North Port Oval (10,000)
Uniforms
Home
Other information
Official websiteportmelbournefc.com.au

The Port Melbourne Football Club, nicknamed the Borough, is an Australian rules football club based in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Port Melbourne. The club was founded in 1874 and has been competing in the Victorian Football Association/League (VFL) since 1886 and the VFLW since 2021.

Port Melbourne is the most successful club in the VFA/VFL/VFLW, having won 18 senior premierships - 17 senior first division men's premierships - three more than its nearest rival Williamstown, and the club secured its inaugural VFLW premiership and 18th overall in 2023. Beyond these premierships, the club has been a men's first division grand finalist on a further 21 occasions bringing their total grand final appearances to a remarkable 38 in their 137 years in the competition. Port Melbourne is also the only VFA/VFL Club never to have been relegated to the second division. The club has maintained a fiercely independent and stand-alone status, without being in a formal reserves affiliation with a club from the Australian Football League (AFL), for all but five years of its history.

Consequently Port Melbourne is considered one of the strongest Victorian-based football clubs that does not compete in the AFL. The club has fielded a women's team in the VFL Women's (VFLW) competition since 2021, and in the past it has fielded premiership-winning teams in the now-defunct VFL reserves and Development leagues.

History

Port Melbourne team that won its first premiership in 1897

The Port Melbourne Football Club joined the senior ranks Victorian Football Association (VFA) in 1886, its inaugural team formed in large part from members of the powerful nearby South Melbourne Football Club which had dominated metropolitan football in 1885.[1] The club has played in every VFA/VFL season since that time. In 1897, Port Melbourne was left out of the group of eight clubs which formed the breakaway VFL competition, despite having regularly been about the sixth- or seventh- best performing team onfield. Historian Terry Keenan theorised that the likeliest reason for Port Melbourne's exclusion was the reputation for the poor behaviour that its players and spectators had developed over the previous decade; its rivalry with and proximity to South Melbourne and the fact that Port Melbourne had supported the gate equalisation measures which the breakaway clubs were trying to escape were also speculated to have contributed to the decision.[2]

The club, and the suburb of Port Melbourne in general, were heavily associated with wharf labourers and the union movement. During a 1928 waterfront strike in Melbourne, a wharf labourer protesting the use of scab labour was shot by police; as a result, the club banned any police from playing with them. The policy remained in place until the late 1950s.[3]

Port Melbourne went on to become one of the strongest clubs in the VFA, and today still attracts some of the biggest crowds to its games. The club had very strong links with the Port Melbourne community, arguably the strongest community relationship within the VFA; local juniors often held stronger aspirations to play for Port Melbourne than for the VFL's South Melbourne – which by the 1950s was perennially struggling and to which the Port Melbourne area was zoned – and even players as highly decorated as Brownlow Medallists Peter Bedford and Bob Skilton returned to play with Port Melbourne after their VFL careers.[4] Over the twenty-eight seasons from 1961 until 1988 that the VFA was partitioned into two divisions, Port Melbourne played every season in the first division – a distinction shared only with the Sandringham.

Traditionally, Port Melbourne's greatest rivals are the Williamstown Seagulls and the Sandringham Zebras. All three teams continue to play in the VFL to this day. Prior to the original breakaway of the VFL from the VFA in 1897, Port Melbourne's greatest rival was South Melbourne.[2]

Since the AFL reserves competition merged with the Victorian Football League in 2000, Port Melbourne has been involved in two affiliations: with the Sydney Swans (2001–2002), and with the Kangaroos (2003–2005); since 2006, Port Melbourne has existed as a stand-alone VFL club. The club has fielded a team in the VFL Women's competition since 2021.

In under-age football, Port Melbourne has been affiliated with the Oakleigh Chargers NAB League team since the 1999 season,[5] and the Chargers adopted Port Melbourne's colours as part of the affiliation. Port Melbourne had previously been affiliated with the Geelong Falcons (1996–1998),[6] and in 1995 was part of a three-way affiliation which saw it share the Calder Cannons and Western Jets with Williamstown and Coburg.[7]

In 2024, Port Melbourne joined the Victorian Blind Football League (VBFL), becoming the first VFL club to do so.[8]

The club's onfield nickname is the Borough or Boroughs, one of the more unusual nicknames in the sport, coming from the club's location in what was once the Borough of Port Melbourne. The name stuck, even after the area was upgraded to the status of town in 1893, and eventually city in 1919.[9][10]

Club jumper

The Port Melbourne Football Club's guernsey is royal blue with red vertical stripes.

Uniform evolution

1889 –1897
1897–1908
1909–present

Club song

The official Port Melbourne Football Club song is called "It's a Grand Old Flag" (sung to the tune of George M. Cohan's 1906 song "You're a Grand Old Flag").

It's a grand old flag, it’s a high-flying flag,

It’s the emblem for me and for you;

It’s the emblem of the team we love,

The team of the Red and the Blue.

Every heart beats true for the Red and the Blue,

And we sing this song to you:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

Keep your eye on the Red and the Blue.

2011 season

In 2011, Port Melbourne completed a perfect season, winning all eighteen home-and-away games, then three finals matches, culminating in a 56-point win against Williamstown in the Grand Final.[11] It was the first perfect season in the VFA/VFL first division since 1918.[12]

Team of the century

The Port Melbourne team of the century was selected in August 2003:

Port Melbourne
B: Stan Plumridge Joe Garbutt Vic Aanensen
HB: David King Bob Kelsey Bob Withers
C: Bill Swan Peter Bedford Billy McGee
HF: Rob Freyer Ted Freyer Brian Walsh
F: Bob Bonnett Fred Cook Tommy Lahiff
Foll: Frank Johnson Graeme Anderson Bill Findlay
Int: David Holt Reg Murray Norm Goss Jr.
Bill Bedford Carl Bowen Gary Brice
Coach: Gary Brice

Honours

Premierships
Competition Level Wins Years Won
Victorian Football League Seniors 17 1897, 1901, 1922, 1940, 1941, 1947, 1953, 1964, 1966, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1982, 2011, 2017
VFL Women's Seniors 1 2023
VFA/VFL Reserves Division 1 14 1944, 1949, 1951, 1959, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1980, 1996, 2004
VFA/VFL Thirds Division 1 2 1952, 1993
Other titles and honours
Centenary Cup Seniors 1 1977
Finishing positions
Victorian Football League Minor premiership 20 1941, 1947, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1966, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1987, 1993, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2011, 2014
Grand Finalists 21 1902, 1923, 1925, 1928, 1929, 1945, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1965, 1967, 1987, 1993, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2012
Wooden spoons 3 1909, 1936, 2006

Grand final performances

Post war placings

Placings (1945–64)
Year 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964
Placement 2 4 1 11 7 2 2 2 1 2 2 2 2 3 8 8 6 7 5 1
Placings (1965–84)
Year 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984
Placement 2 1 2 5 3 4 6 5 4 1 3 1 1 3 3 1 1 1 3 6
Placings (1985-04)
Year 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Placement 5 5 2 4 8 10 5 6 2 7 3 5 4 8 6 13 10 2 3 2
Placings (2005–present)
Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
Placement 5 13 7 2 3 6 1 2 6 3 10 8 1 8 4

Records

Coaches

Women's team

Port Melbourne have fielded a VFL Women's team since 2021, in affiliation with the Richmond Football Club. They have won one premiership as of 2024.

Port Melbourne VFLW honour roll
Season Final position Coach Captain Best and fairest Leading goal kicker
2020 Season cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2021 3rd Lachlan Harris Melissa Kuys Claire Dyett Emily Harley (14)
2022 10th Sean Buncle Claire Dyett/Melissa Kuys Kaitlyn O'Keefe Sophie Locke (6)
2023 Premiers Sean Buncle Claire Dyett Lauren Caruso Emily Harley (9)
2024 6th Sean Buncle Olivia Barton TBA Emily Harley (13)

See also

References

  1. ^ "The Football Season". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 30 April 1885. p. 6.
  2. ^ a b Keenan, Terry (2001), "Keeping out the riff-raff – Port Melbourne's exclusion from the Victorian Football League in 1896", Sporting Traditions, 17 (2): 1–16
  3. ^ Marc Fiddian (19 September 1981). "Another proud day for Port". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. p. 43.
  4. ^ Amy, Paul (2014), Fabulous Fred: the Strife and Times of Fred Cook, Melbourne Books, pp. 53–54
  5. ^ "Borough Continue To Build on Oakleigh Chargers Relationship". Port Melbourne Football Club. 23 February 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  6. ^ Adrian Dunn (5 October 1995). "Willy and the Bees merge order". Herald Sun (Afternoon ed.). Melbourne, VIC. p. 86.
  7. ^ Adrian Dunn (17 September 1994). "Prahran calls time out". Herald Sun (Morning ed.). Melbourne, VIC. p. 86.
  8. ^ "PORT MELBOURNE JOINS VICTORIAN BLIND FOOTBALL LEAGUE". AFL Victoria. 7 May 2024. Archived from the original on 8 May 2024. Retrieved 8 May 2024.
  9. ^ Ciem (22 July 1922). "Association topics". Record. Emerald Hill, VIC. p. 2.
  10. ^ "Ports wilted at the finish". Record. Emerald Hill, VIC. 19 June 1937. p. 5.
  11. ^ Amy, Paul (25 September 2011). "Port Melbourne crushes Williamstown to claim VFL flag". Leader. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
  12. ^ "This weekend in the VFL". The Marngrook Footy Show. 26 August 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2011.

Sources

  • Atkinson, G. (1982) Everything you ever wanted to know about Australian rules football but couldn't be bothered asking, The Five Mile Press: Melbourne. ISBN 0 86788 009 0.
  • Terry Keenan. 2006. Unduly Rough Play – A History of the Port Melbourne Football Club, Volume 2 1918 – 1944. Albert Park: Eucalyptus Press
  • Terry Keenan. 2004. Kicking into the Wind – A History of the Formative Years of the Port Melbourne Football Club 1874–1917. Petersham: Walla Walla Press
  • Terry Keenan. 1999. A Taste of Port. Albert Park: Eucalyptus Press
  • Terry Keenan. A Family Feud. Port Melbourne: Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society.
  • Terry Keenan. Keeping Out the Riff-Raff. Port Melbourne: Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society.
  • Marc Fiddian. The VFA – A History of the Victorian Football Association 1877–1995.