The pettiest stalemate in AFL history is finally over.
Port Adelaide will wear its traditional ‘Prison Bar’ jumper in this year’s first Showdown after Collingwood finally relented and agreed to let the Power wear the guernsey.
Both the Power and Magpies announced on Saturday they had reached an agreement that will allow Port to wear their heritage black and white jumper in the Round 3 home derby against the Adelaide Crows.
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The agreement is just for this season for now, but Port Adelaide president David Koch is hopeful of continuing “our positive discussions with Collingwood in regards to wearing our black-and-white Prison Bar guernsey again next year and beyond”.
In a statement, Koch said Collingwood president Jeff Browne and chief executive Craig Kelly had been “outstanding to deal with during these discussions”.
“There is a genuine sense of goodwill from Collingwood and an understanding that heritage is important to all clubs, not least of all Port Adelaide” Koch said.
“Ultimately this magnificent black-and-white guernsey belongs to our people. It’s our people’s guernsey.
“Our community has been overwhelming in their desire for Port Adelaide to wear this guernsey again in the AFL and this outcome is for our loyal community made up of members, supporters, partners, staff, volunteers, players and past players. This is for the entire Port Adelaide family.
“If the last few years have taught us anything it is that the fans are central to our game. Our fans have asked for this guernsey. They understand more than any the importance of heritage and tradition and we are delighted to able to wear this guernsey again for our people.
“This guernsey has been the fabric of our club since 1902 and represents everyone who has made Port Adelaide the club it is today.
“And there is no better time to wear this guernsey than against our South Australian rivals. Our players will wear this heritage guernsey with great pride on the national stage to celebrate and honour the legacy of those who have come before us.”
Port’s jersey breakthrough comes after years of public back-and-forth between Koch and former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire.
The Magpies’ refusal to let Port wear the jersey was seen by many as bizarre, considering Port weren’t asking to wear the prison bars in a game against Collingwood.
The heritage guernsey features thin white and black stripes, while Collingwood’s classic jersey has thicker black and white stripes.
Port Adelaide last wore the jersey against Adelaide in Round 2 of the 2020 season in their 150th anniversary year.
Multiple requests to wear it in Showdowns were denied, and in 2021 the Power were threatened with the loss of premiership points if they wore the Prison Bar jumper in the Showdown against the AFL’s rules.
Instead, the team waited until post-match to change out of their playing strip to put on the heritage jumper and celebrate the win.
In a statement, Browne said Collingwood still “own the stripes in the AFL competition” but “we acknowledge the history and origins of the Port Adelaide Football Club and their contribution to South Australian football over a long period of time”.
“Since the formation of the Collingwood Football Club in 1892, we have worn black-and-white stripes. The Collingwood jumper is part of the fabric of our Club and is one of the most iconic in Australian Football,” Browne said.
“When Port Adelaide entered the AFL in 1997, a binding agreement was signed between the Club and Collingwood, with Port giving up the black and white colours and the Magpie emblem as part of their entrance into the national competition.
“As President of the Club Board and following ongoing discussions with Port Adelaide President David Koch, it is our view that we acknowledge the history of Port Adelaide prior to their entry into the AFL and support them to wear their ‘Prison Bar’ guernsey in their upcoming home Showdown against the Crows in Round Three.”
Port Adelaide and Collingwood play each other in Round 2 at the MCG, with the Power will wear its standard teal jersey.