Portarlington Football Netball Club

Historically in the 1830s and ’40s settlers were establishing a presence on the Bellarine and the small township forming near Indented Head was named Portarlington in 1851.  Census data reveals that Portarlington’s population was only around 150 people in the 1850s, but town-planning was well underway and with blocks sold off and local businesses emerging future growth was assured. St Leonards was also established in the 1850’s and had a smaller population.

The Club’s major objectives are to ensure to involve its local communities to provide excellent football and netball sporting platforms in a family friendly environment, providing enjoyment. For almost the entire life of the football part of the Club of nearly 150 years the communities from St Leonards, Indented Head and Portarlington have contributed to its existence through player participation, membership, sponsorship and community support.  

A cricket club was established as early as 1872 in Portarlington. Two years later in 1974, at a meeting held at the town’s Bayview Hotel, 27 locals gathered to form the first football club on the Bellarine Peninsula. Accordingly, the Portarlington Cricket Club celebrated its 150th in 2022, and the Portarlington Football Club celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2024.

Countless football clubs were formed in the decades immediately following the game’s codification in 1859, and yet the vast majority of them, have not stood the test of time. Formed in 1874, Portarlington counts among the oldest extant clubs of any football code in the world.

To put this into perspective, consider these few comparisons: Portarlington Football Club has been around 11 years longer than Richmond and preceded Collingwood by 18 years; it is four years older than Manchester United and was already in its twelfth year of existence when Arsenal was formed; it was approaching its 50th anniversary when the St George Dragons were founded; and Port had been around for more than 80 years when the Dallas Cowboys were created.

Like all footy clubs, Portarlington has its own unique story to tell, full of ups and downs. Its early history is particularly fascinating. For instance, when it was formed there few other established football clubs in the region, Geelong Football Club being one of them. Travelling roughly 15-20 miles over land during winter in those days was no easy feat. In some years indeed, taking a ferry across the bay to play games in Geelong and Melbourne was a practical and appealing option.  The Club is currently preparing a book to be published in July/August 2024 which will provide a detailed account of its history. A research committee has been gathering available information from historical newspapers, many published books, articles and interviews with people who have been connected with the Club over many years. The book will be a story about the Cub and its connections to the local communities.