Archival records document a Port Adelaide cricket team playing as early in the state's history as the 1860s. The team competed briefly in the Adelaide Suburban Cricket Association before forming a Port Adelaide Cricket Association in 1882-83.
William Whitridge proposed Port Adelaide at the annual meeting of the SACA in September 1885 but the motion was defeated due to the lack of available grounds. They were admitted for season 1893-94, and in 1896 combined with the Australs to play as Port-Australs for one final season.
The club was officially formed at a meeting at the Friendly Societies’ Room in July 1897 and its base was to be the Alberton Oval for the next century. An upgraded ground and a new pavilion were opened in 1903, although perhaps more attention needed to be paid to the state of the outfield in the first few years as Port batsman G.S.P. Jones was able to run 8 while making 143 not out against West Torrens in 1904-05 because the fieldsman could not find the ball amongst the weeds.
For the first two decades they were generally near the bottom of the Premiership.
Then came the club’s heyday, the 1920s, when the club won three back-to-back A Grade premierships from the ‘27-28 season.
The club possessed the most prolific batsmen of the era in Dave Pritchard and Gordon Harris, and the popular little legspinner Norm Williams claimed a haul of wickets unequalled at club level, often aided by the lightning reflexes of the robust wicketkeeper Gordon Inkster.
The A Grade’s next success was in 1967-68 when Australian opening Test bowlers Eric Freeman and Neil Hawke were match-winners. The club colours were magenta and blue, but the familiar colours of black and white were soon adopted .
Since then, the A Grade have won the A Grade T20 Premiership in 2009 and were A Grade premiers in 2014. The A’s also made the finals in the 1990’s, while B Grade have been victors in four different decades, with their last outright win in 1972-73. C Grade have two championships to their name and D Grade one, which they won in 1986-87.
The early 90s showed signs of good prosperity as Justin Langer, Brendon Julian and Phil DeFreitas all played at the club. Langer – who has a score of 250 in a D Grade game to his name – and Julian were assigned to Port during the 1990s when the Australian Academy was based in Adelaide.
But from such heights, the club plummeted in the mid-90s to near extinction when Port Adelaide football club forced them from their cultural and spiritual home, the Alberton Oval, after a century there. PACC’s club president Peter Brien sought legal advice and formed a strong case for the cricket club who had argued were being “bullied out”.
In the end, though the cricket section were ejected with “obscene haste”, to quote a member, Brien’s quick-thinking interventions resulted in the club receiving no expense spared in the assembling of the new facilities and club rooms at Baynes Place where the club is found today, at what was the Riverside Oval.
Even so, the club lost its associations with schools in the Alberton area and had to establish links in its new area. Players and administrators also left the club during the upheaval, resulting in a dip in the club’s fortunes, from which it has taken years to recover.
Zimbabwean players Dougie Hondo, Guy Croxford and Stuart Matsikenyeri represented the club in the early stages of the new millennium but even after that time the men’s A Grade were threatened with extinction through poor performances as they tried desperately to rebuild. SACA placed them on a three-year performance contract with SACA. But, tenacious to the last, the club has hung on through thick and thin and these days there is a very committed group of players.
A few years before the upheaval began in the mid-90s, Port Adelaide became one of the first Grade clubs to integrate women’s cricket under their umbrella. The women’s team started up in 1994, just after the club’s centenary celebrations, and have brought relentless success since taking on the Port colours.
We have been represented by four Australia internationals to date: Annette Fellows; Lynn Fullston; Karen Rolton and Emma Sampson, the latter pair having helped the A Grade to win six of the last seven league titles. The women were also the first club in the history of the competition to win all 3 grades in a season, in the early 2000s.
Our Honours Board, then, reflects a lengthy list of state and international representatives over this long period of time with PACC supporting strongly the youth of our local district.