“Fuming” Port Adelaide club president David Koch believes he has “been played” by Collingwood after the Power’s request to wear their heritage prison bar jumper was again knocked back by the Magpies.
Speaking on FIVEaa radio, Koch said Port did “the right thing” and put the jumper request into the AFL back in March to wear for the Round 23 Showdown.
Koch didn’t hold back when asked about claims the Magpies told him Port’s jumper request would be denied back in March.
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“That is the greatest load of rot I’ve ever heard,” Koch said.
“In fact, two weeks ago the Collingwood president Jeff Browne rang me out of the blue and said: ‘Kochie look mate, we’re taking your request really seriously, we understand how important it is to your members, we understand the history of it … I’ve been canvassing opinions both in Melbourne and South Australia and I’m putting it to my board (last week) and I don’t want to get your hopes up, but I’m quietly confident we could have good news for you.’
“So that was just two weeks ago the president of the Collingwood Football Club rang me out of the blue and told me this.”
Koch claimed the club had been taken advantage of by Collingwood as debate continues to rage over whether the Power should be allowed to wear their heritage prison bar strip.
“Remember Collingwood have always said: ‘We own black and white in the AFL/VFL. They are our colours’ – as if you can own two colours. Don’t get me started on that,” he said.
“On the weekend, Collingwood VFL played the Southport Sharks in the VFL who are black and white. So why can’t we play in our traditional prison bar guernsey, Showdown in Adelaide, that’s all. Not against Collingwood. Not for the rest of the year. I don’t think it’s unreasonable.
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“I can’t help but feel that we’ve been played in this for being nice and a bit mislead by the club and also conversations I’ve had with the president.
“It just shows, dare I say, the pettiness of this which has got completely out of hand. I don’t know whether it’s a case of the big Victorian clubs once again going: ‘Hey, you just keep in your place you interstates, South Australian clubs. We run this competition, you do as we say.’”
An agreement was put in place when Port Adelaide entered the competition in 1997 that the prison bar jumper was only to be worn in the AFL’s Heritage round.
But there is no longer one dedicated round by the AFL, with clubs opting to do their own heritage celebrations each year.
“Yes, an agreement was signed when we came into the AFL – that’s 30 years ago. Times have changed and clubs are celebrating their heritage,” Koch said.
“Why can’t we declare a Showdown as celebrating our heritage?
“I’m fuming because we have done the right thing, we’ve just quietly gone about it, and I can’t help feel as though that good nature has been played.
“You look at virtually every AFL club being allowed to play in their heritage guernsey this year … but we’re not allowed to do the same.”
Koch later added in a statement: “Surely we’re past these trivial arguments and acknowledge this is one of these things where it’s time for change and we progress the game, as a truly national competition which acknowledges the rich heritage we all bring.
“We’re not asking to wear it every week, it’s for Showdowns, in Adelaide, to celebrate the rich heritage of Port Adelaide and of South Australian football. It just feels logical, harming no body and promoting the history of Australian football.
“At a time when the number 1 issue in the game is fan engagement and attendance, it’s such an easy solution.
“What we are asking for is entirely reasonable. To wear our iconic Prison Bar Guernsey in Showdowns to celebrate the heritage of Port Adelaide and South Australian football. Not against Collingwood, just two times a year, in Adelaide. I don’t see how it impacts anyone negatively at all.”
Last year, the Power were threatened with the loss of premiership points if they wore the prison bar jumper for the Showdown, against the AFL’s ruling.
So the team waited until post-match to change out of their playing strip and into the prison bar Guernsey.