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Cricket's Magpies end 46-year premiership drought

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Port Adelaide Cricket Club will celebrate all week long after it put years of turmoil and disappointment behind it to claim its first district cricket premiership in 46 years.

The club that administrators tried to kick out of the competition – twice – broke its drought when it claimed a two-wicket win over Tea Tree Gully in the West End A Grade final at Glenelg Oval.

Club president Peter Brien summed it up when receiving the Shield: “We got virtually no support from the other clubs when we’re being pushed out.

“Try and get rid of us now!”

Brien’s family owns the Alberton Hotel where the players celebrated Sunday night and all through Monday.

“I’ve got no idea when it will end,” he told InDaily.

“This has been a long time coming and we’ve been through a lot, so there’s a lot of celebrating to be done.”

Redbacks ‘keeper Tim Ludeman helped guide his club to the nailbiting win.

Heading into the final as underdogs, the Port Magpies were set 167 for victory.

Adam Dilley (19), Matthew Weeks (21) and Andrew McDonald (19) all managed starts for Port Adelaide, however at 5/97 and 70 runs still required, the game was in the balance.

Ludeman (21) and all-rounder Brenton McDonald (29) fought hard to set up the win; skipper Nick Benton (7 not out) and Steven Gilmour (9 not out) seeing their side home.

The Magpie’s history stretches back to the 1860s.

It moved its base to Alberton Oval in 1903 and stayed there for more than a century.

Its heyday was the 1920s, when the club won three successive A Grade premierships from the ‘27-28 season.

The A Grade’s only other success was in 1967-68 when Australian opening Test bowlers Eric Freeman and Neil Hawke were match-winners in a final played at Adelaide Oval.

Freeman was on hand to see Sunday’s win.

In the early 1990s Port was home to future Test stars Justin Langer, Brendon Julian and Phil DeFreitas when the Australian Cricket Academy was based in Adelaide.

Port hit hard times shortly after and almost folded when Port Adelaide Football Club, newly admitted to the AFL, forced them from their cultural and spiritual home at Alberton Oval.

PACC’s club president Peter Brien shifted the club to the Riverside Oval, but the club lost its association with schools in the Alberton area and had to establish links in its new area.

Players and administrators left the club during the upheaval, resulting in a dip in the club’s fortunes and again it teetered on the brink of extinction.

The men’s A Grade were threatened with removal from the competition and the SACA placed them on a three-year performance contract.

They hung on and on the weekend, it all became worthwhile.

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