Travis Boak poses for a photo during Port Adelaide's official team photo day on February 12, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

TRAVIS Boak doesn't think he's the man who saved Port Adelaide.

His coach Ken Hinkley does – even though it sounds "a bit rich".

"In some ways he is the reason why Port Adelaide is still around," Hinkley said.

Boak will celebrate his 350th AFL game on Sunday when the Power play Richmond at the MCG, becoming just the 23rd footballer in VFL/AFL history to reach the milestone.

All have been for his beloved Port after a sliding doors moment for Boak and the club in 2012.

Then, Port was propped up by AFL funds and tarpaulins covered vast areas of vacant seats at the club's home ground, Football Park, amid average crowds of 19,000 a game.


Port won five games for the year, and sacked coach Matthew Primus after just three victories in 2011.

Perennial powerhouse Geelong came knocking for Boak, a Geelong Falcons under-18 product who grew up at Torquay.

"There was a big decision to make," Boak told reporters on Wednesday.

"And it was one that took a fair bit of time to process all the information – go back home, be close to family and be part of the Geelong footy club, which is a great club and was going well at the time. We weren't going so well.

"But there was just so much here that myself, Robbie (Gray), Jacko (Jackson Trengove) – a lot of players – didn't want to walk away from.

Travis Boak in action during Port Adelaide's clash against Fremantle in the AAMI Community Series on March 1, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

"We were well entrenched in this club to try and move it forward, and that's what we wanted to do.

"In the end that was why I wanted to stay: to help make this club better again and get back up the ladder."

At the time, few people would have begrudged Boak if he had moved back home to Geelong, but there was a genuine fear for Port's fortunes if he did – not that he noticed the potential wider ramifications.

"We were struggling as a footy club," he said.

"And whether you're struggling in life as an individual or you're struggling in business or wherever it is, family, the only way to get through it is to go through it and not leave that situation.

Ken Hinkley and Travis Boak chat after Port Adelaide's win over Richmond in round 24, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"And that's kind of what we did.

"We just had to push through it and we had to change things. Ken came in, the fitness staff came in, some guys signed on.

"Fortunately enough we started to turn things around and we started to push forward.

"But you get to those situations in life where ... the only way through a tough situation is to go through it."