The “Ports” Years 

In the early years, the Club was referred to as the “Ports”.

From 1875 the “Ports” competed in an array of football match events which originated via invitation up to at least 1883. The members of the teams were made up of local farmers, business operators and workers (probably for the brickworks and later the mill). The PFC competed against teams from Geelong (still more research needed here)

In the 1880’s there are records of the PFC team travelling via the Melbourne to Portarlington Steamer the “Edina” to compete against teams from Melbourne. An article appeared in the Queenscliff Sentinel on 10 October 1885 reporting the Portarlington Football Club played 13 games including 11 games in Melbourne. The reported scores showed Portarlington won 10 matches losing only 3 to Abbotsford, Rainbow and Northcote. They kicked a total of 46 goals for the season and had only 18 kicked against them.

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From 1895 the “Ports” competed in the Bellarine & District League (sometimes called the Portarlington & District, Queenscliff & District and Bellarine & District Leagues or combinations of both). The BDL was mostly made up of Portarlington, Queenscliff, Royal Artillery, Royal Garrison (Military) and Drysdale. Portarlington won 3 premierships in these years and was Runner Up around 13 times (unlucky for some). The Club played in this league till the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914.

At the turn of the century Mr Robert Graham had four sons playing for PFC. One son Charles (Dick) Graham played for over twenty-two years from 1891 to 1914, including a year with Geelong. Others to play during this period were 3 Hitch brothers, Leonard Ibbotson, Paddy McLean (who also played with Geelong), Charlie Schulz, Malcolm Beasley and many others.

After WW1 the PFC reformed in 1919 and played in the Bellarine Football Association. Investigations to date suggest the team did not have any premiership success but produced many outstanding players. In 1925 Councillor Ted Harvey presented a medallion to Portarlington’s Riley Lincoln for the most consistent player (equivalent to today’s League Best & Fairest). After WW1, the PFC played in Essendon colours and were still known as the “Ports”. 

During the depression years of the late 1920’s, the Club was unable to field a team, however in 1931 the PFC fielded a side under the Captaincy Mick Wilson in the Geelong Football Association. Although again the Club did not win any Premierships during this period it produced some fine footballers. Among them was the legendary, Jack Manson who came from Melbourne and was a local professional fisherman for many years. Jack won the League Best & Fairest Medallion in 1931, 1932 & 1933 and was Runner-Up to another Portarlington player (Arny Fraser) in 1934. In 1936 the PFC and Drysdale F.C combined to field a team for three years before the outbreak of World War 2.

The Bomber Years

In 1944 PFC reformed and still in red and black colours but its nickname became the “Bombers”, noting Essendon adopted that nickname in 1940. The Club had success in 1947 as Premiers & Champions in the Geelong District Leagues – Woolworth Cup. The Legendary – Jack Manson (still playing) was Captain/Coach of this Champion Team. It should be noted three players went to play with Geelong the following year – John Hyde, Barry Bretland and Max Trewin. 

The PFC was not successful again until the “Coronation Year” when in 1953 under Coach Stuart Renfrey and Captain – Harold “Snub” Fraser, won the Premiership for the Jarman Cup. Success came again for the PFC in 1958 when they won the Premiership under Captain Coach – Dick Gillivour and in 1959 they were Premiers & Champions again under Dick’s stewardship. Champion ruckman – Barry Ward won the League Best & Fairest in this year and went to Geelong in 1960.

After these two successful years the Club was promoted the equivalent of two Divisions to the Evelyn Hurst Cup in 1960 and although they were competitive was relegated to the Woolworth Cup in 1961. In 1962 under Captain/Coach Barry Ward (who returned from Geelong) the PFC played against Torquay in the Grand Final and unfortunately lost.

The Demons Years

In 1964, the PFC joined the Polwarth League, however due to the clash of similar “red and black” Essendon colours with Birregurra, the Club changed colours to “red and blue” and became known as the Portarlington Demons. The PFC competed in this competition without a final’s appearance till 1970. The Polwarth League was dismantled and replaced by the Bellarine and District Football League (BDFL). It should be noted however that another young local – Brian Chirgwin – won the Polwarth League Best & Fairest in 1965 then went on to play with Geelong in 1966.

The BDFL commenced in 1971 and the Senior Coach at the time was Barry Smith. In fact, it was in this year the Club started to find some success and in the back half of the season easily defeated all the sides above them in the top four. Missing out only on percentage, the team of ‘71, missed out on an opportunity to perhaps bring the Club success after many years without a finals appearance.

In 1973, however the Club won its very first “Underage” premiership. Captained by David “Wally” Whelan and Coached by local player and farmer, Ian “Coatie” Coatsworth the Club’s U13 team won the premiership.

A significant milestone of success came for the Club off the field, when in 1975 Club President “Harry” Ashton and his Committee, together with the Gordon Stevens, the Bellarine Shire President managed to secure funding via a unique rating system through the local Council with the sanction of State Government. The amount raised was enough to provide materials and together with the local community volunteer labour, new ‘state of the art’ Football/Cricket Clubrooms were built on the western side of the oval. The facility to this day has stood the test of time, some 45+ years on. 

With the completion of the new facilities on field success came with the Club winning its first ever Reserves Grade Premiership in 1977. Under Captain/Coach — Mick Cain, the Club’s 2nd XVIII won a tough fought out game against Leopold. The following year the team again made the finals but failed to make the Grand Final.  However, 1978 saw the Club’s 1st XVIII under Captain Coach – Phil Sarah soundly beat Drysdale to win the 1978 Senior Premiership. The Club’s first Senior XVIII premiership in nearly 20 years.

The Club ended up third in 1979 under Captain/Coach Lindsay Toulmin losing the preliminary final to Leopold who were the eventual Premiers. In 1980, under Captain/Coach George Bisset, the Club lost only one home and away game (the last), only to be racked by injuries going into the final series. Although the Club ended the season as minor Premiers it lost the Grand Final to Newcomb.

Again under Captain/Coach George Bisset, the Club made finals in 1981 and 1982 only to be defeated in Preliminary and Semi-Finals. In 1983 and 1984 the Club made the finals under Captain/Coaches – Warwick Yeates (1983) and Phil Sarah (1984) again the team was defeated in the minor finals and failed to have any Grand Final appearances.   

A ninth Senior XVIII Premiership came in 1992 when the Club won not only the Senior (under Steven “Stormy” Winter) and Reserve Grade football premierships but also the A Grade Netball Premiership and were runners up in the B Grade Netball. After the 1994 Senior Football grand final loss in 1994, the club’s fortunes took a turn for the worse thereafter, with poor senior playing performances compounded by financial hardship in the mid- to late-1990s. The past two and a half decades have been tough on and off the field. Indeed, the situation became so dire that by 2019 the club faced the very real threat that it might fold.