I first visited Football Park in Adelaide in 1990 as the guest of former Port Adelaide great and 1949 captain Reg Schumann.
Reg and I had met via mail during my research for Gravel Rash: 100 Years of Goldfields Football. His connection to Kalgoorlie-Boulder was that he was part of a Port Adelaide team beaten by the Goldields at Boulder Oval in 1939.
We went to see Port Adelaide play Glenelg at Football Park – this wasn’t just any visit to the footy. Pre-game we were at the head table at the PAFC lunch. The others at our table were the legendary Fos Williams and his wife Von, then Federal Member for Ports (and club number one ticket holder) Mick Young and Olympic runner Kerry O’Brien. Port won in front of a crowd of 24,880.
Since then I’ve been regularly and have only twice seen the Dockers lose – round 14, 2005 when they stormed home to lose by a goal and Matthew Pavlich kicked eight goals and in the qualifying final of 2006.
Football Park is at a Waverley-like location in West Lakes – miles from the city and is almost finished as an AFL venue. The first game was played there in 1974.
The main scoreboard tells a story really. Once state-of-the-art it’s now a tired electronic relic and the two big screens show the score in a brighter way.
Some will be sad when they stop playing AFL games at this place. Especially those who set up pre-game barbecues as is the quaint Port Adelaide tradition. I think games at Adelaide Oval will make the City of Churches a magnificent place for interstate footy trippers.
It was cold, wet, windy and glorious on what was probably my last visit to Football Park on the first day of winter 2013.