A meeting called on 18th May, 1868, saw the formation of the Port Fairy (Belfast)Football Club. This meeting was followed by the first recorded game, between Port Fairy and Warrnambool on May 25, 1868.
The match commenced at 11.00am and continued until 5.00pm. It was a rudimentary game, based mainly on Gaelic Football with some borrowings from Rugby and Soccer mixed in. The rules were seemingly made-up as the game progressed.
Port Fairy’s first win came on July 1, 1868 in a game against Warrnambool and by 1875 footy had gained such popularity that the first competition was arranged.
The first Challenge Cup was decided in July 1875 and four of the original teams (Port Fairy, Hamilton, Warrnambool and Koroit) remain rivals in the Hampden League today.
Reports indicate that these games attracted crowds of well over 500 people and for Port Fairy in 1875 this amounted to approximately 85% of the population.
In 1886 around 60 people arrived from Portland aboard the S.S. Casino to watch a game between Portland and Port Fairy, a game cut short by a serious injury resulting in all players retreating to the pub!
The Port Fairy Botanical Gardens and Recreational Reserve (where games are played to this day), was designed in 1859, fenced in 1881 and connected by road in 1889.
In July 1888 the Borough Council converted the central area into a public recreation area for football and cricket. Port Fairy was at this time known as the Rovers and in 1888 played for the Handsome Cup which inspired a new competition known as the Tennyson challenge Cup.
By 1910 Port Fairy were part of the Western District Association and in 1924 joined the Western District Football League, at the same time having a team in the Port Fairy and District Football League.
1920 appears to be the year in which the club adopted the Club’s current colours of Purple and Gold and a year later became a force with Premierships in 1922, 1925,1926, 1928 and 1929.
In April 1948 Port Fairy made its original application to join the Hampden League with permission finally obtained in October 1948.
The Club showed it was at the head of innovation when in 1955,it attempted to launch a Women’s League (over 60years before in inception of the AFLW).
A women’s match was played before a crowd that paid 120 pounds in gate takings, a huge amount taken at the gate for a previously untried women’s match.
1956 Port Fairy saw the club playin its first Grand Final in the Hampden League and in 1958 won the Premiership. This team was under the leadership of John Elder who, due to numerous injuries, was replaced by Alan Cations in the middle of the season. Elder recovered from his injuries to play in the Premiership side.
During the 50’s and 60’s Port Fairy had not only a strong side in the Hampden League but also a senior team in the Port Fairy and District League.
In 1960 when the Club won its 13th senior flag in this District League it had accumulated 13 flags in 92 years.
Netball joined the Club in 1987. It was a beginning of small steps–no coach, no
training–no uniform with teams consisting of whoever was available on the day.
Slowly the netball team became more and more competitive resulting in it’s first Premiership in 2006,2013, 2014, 2016 (A2) with additional flags in 2016 (Open A Grade) and 2017(under 15’s). The Club now has 11 netball teams.
More details to come.....
It’s a grand old flag
It’s a high flying flag
It’s the emblem for me and for you
It’s the emblem of the team we love
The team of the purple and gold
Every heart beats bold
For the purple and the gold
And we sing this song to you
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
Keep your eye on the purple and gold!