The Port Adelaide Football Club are currently not wearing this historic and iconic guernsey in anything other than infrequent ‘special interest’ games and, as a result, losing a cornerstone of our identity as well as much needed revenue from merchandise and memberships.
We are not here to negotiate. When the time comes, that will be the responsibility of the Port Adelaide Football Club’s administrators. This campaign aims to highlight to the club, the AFL and the broader football community that there is significant support for PAFC to wear the Prison Bar guernsey in home and away games in the AFL.
Everyone who has ever been passionate about a football club and who sees the rich tapestry of a club’s history as the most crucial component of its identity, along with members and supporters of the Port Adelaide Football club.
The #BringBackTheBars campaign is driven by a core group of supporters with a strong belief in the cause. We are supported by a number of separate supporter groups who help us spread the message.
We do this for the supporters of the future, our kids and their kids, and in deference to the supporters of old, without whom the club we all love would not be where it is today.
In a fair and just sporting competition, where tribal instincts are inflamed, legends are born and reputations are forged, on and off the field, a club’s identity is paramount. It is the banner that players and supporters alike fall behind and follow. It is the essence of a football club.
Denying one club the rights to express its identity how they choose to, should be of concern to all clubs, particularly those who are not financial powerhouses. In fact, our inability to fully lever-age this guernsey to grow our membership base and provide revenue through merchandise sales is a restrictive covenant for which there is no compensation from Collingwood or the AFL.
It’s time to right this wrong.
The Port Adelaide Football club is one of the oldest in Australia. It’s beginnings even pre-date the federation of Australia by more than thirty years.
Based in Alberton, a working class suburb of Port Adelaide, the main trade port for South Australia for much of its existence, the area is steeped in history, rich in stories and a heartland of working class Australians from a wide variety of cultures. Much like any port, its inhabitants are tough and uncompromising. This is the culture that gave rise to the most successful football club in Australia.
We believe that is the inalienable right of a football club to express its rich heritage and unique identity on the national stage of the sporting competition they play in.
We believe that the Prison Bar guernsey is an iconic and symbolic design that represents the historic wharf pylons of Port Adelaide and reflective of the broader multi-cultural breakdown of our community and deserves to be seen on a national, and international, stage.
We believe that we have the right to wear this iconic guernsey, to appeal to a new generation of supporters, those who see value in heritage and tradition. Those who seek to follow a club that is greater than the sum of its constituent parts. Those who follow in the footsteps of the types that have always naturally gravitated to Port Adelaide.
The Port Adelaide Football Club adopted the black and white Wharf Pylon / “Prison Bar” guernsey after having difficulty finding magenta and blue dyes that would repeatedly last the rigours of an Australian rules football match. Prior to adopting the Wharf Pylon / “Prison Bar” guernsey the club won 3 premierships over 31 years. After adopting the Wharf Pylon / “Prison Bar” guernsey in 1902 the club would, in controversial circumstances, be disqualified from finals but after would ultimately win 31 premierships and 3 Championships of Australia in the black and white guernsey before being admitted into the AFL in 1997.
The ‘Prison Bar’ nickname originated from fans of the Norwood Football Club in the late 1980s and early 1990s in an attempt to deride the Port Adelaide supporter base, playing on Port Adelaide’s strong working class demographic. Supporters of Port Adelaide quickly adopted this insult as their own for the name of the guernsey. The ‘Prison Bar’ name eventually becoming part of the mystique and intimidation of the guernsey.
Turning a sledge into a badge of honour is something that Port supporters do particularly well. This colloquial naming of the guernsey strengthens our argument for wearing this guernsey in the AFL. Our detractors tried to put us down with an insult, so we took that insult and wore it with pride. It speaks to the resilience of the Port Adelaide community, of their ability to not be shaken or belittled. It speaks to character, where the notion of someone being ‘behind bars’ does not remove from them their personhood, their humanity, their rights. Nor their desire to win.
The Prison Bar Guernsey is an iconic symbol of Australian sporting history, but it is also a significant cultural symbol of the Port Adelaide community.
To show your support, please sign and share our petition at Change.org:
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