Our Heritage. Our History. Our Right.

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#BringBackTheBars - A campaign to restore Port Adelaide’s Prison Bar guernsey from 2020

Why this campaign is needed

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.

How this campaign is structured

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.

Who this campaign is aimed at

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 people behind this campaign

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.

This is a supporter led revolution and we will never, ever give up.

Sign the petition at Change.org

One club

If history and heritage weren’t relevant, we wouldn’t be in the AFL. It was our enviable record in the SANFL that got us elevated to the national competition.

Our club rooms are where they’ve always been and our AFL logo references the wharf pylon guernsey design. It’s been there from the start of this journey.

We had a Fiacchi and a now have a Cahill on the board, we have an Ebert on the playing list and a Wanganeen and a Mead as potential father son selections. Alfie still does the boots and Barry still cracks the jokes.

Even our haters are all too familiar in name and face.

Our petition

Why #BringBackTheBars matters

The rights of our club are about more than just our club

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.

Our identity is our heritage

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.

Our inalienable right to represent our heritage

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.

Fos Williams

“Anyone that put on the guernsey acted like the guernsey intended it to act. It wasn’t built around the player wearing the guernsey. It was the guernsey using a player.”

The Guernsey

The history of a football icon

The Wharf Pylons

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 Bars

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.

Harold Oliver

Adelaide Oval, 1914

Legendary Port Adelaide player, Harold Oliver, takes an iconic mark at Adelaide Oval in 1914.

Ollie Wines

Adelaide Oval, 2014

Ollie Wines interacts with fans at Adelaide Oval following an elimination final victory over Richmond.

1958 Premeirship

Adelaide Oval, 1958

Neville Hayes, Dave Gill, Ken Tierney, Fos Williams, and Geof Motley after winning another SANFL Premiership.

The Invincibles

Daily Herald, 1914

An article from the Daily Herald newspaper describing Port Adelaide's undefeated 1914 season.

Travis Boak and Hamish Hartlett

Adelaide Oval, 2014

Travis Boak and Hamish Hartlett at Adelaide Oval for the 2014 elimination final versus Richmond.

Wharf Pylons

Port Adelaide, 1901

Wharf pylons at Port Adelaide in 1901 - the design inspiration for this iconic guernsey.

Final word

This issue runs so much deeper than how often we wear the Prison Bars, or if people like teal or not, it’s about our right to use an iconic symbol of our club’s incredible achievements in a manner that WE choose, not as dictated by others with vested interests.

We are taking this fight very seriously, because it is fundamental to our being. It’s not about “brand”, it’s about our rights to express our identity. This is about our club, and us as supporters, fighting for this right.

Given the identity crisis that has plagued the club since entering the AFL, this is our chance to say, “enough”.

This is our time to fight.

Sign the petition at Change.org

Get involved

How you can help #BringBackTheBars

To show your support, please sign and share our petition at Change.org:

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We also invite you to follow and share our official social media pages:

media@bringbackthebars.com For all media enquiries