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

PORT Adelaide would not be the club it is today without Travis Boak.

The highly respected leader – who is already the club's AFL games record holder – will play his 350th match on Sunday, becoming just the 23rd player in A/VFL history to reach the milestone and the 15th to do it at one club.

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He was only the fifth man to captain Port Adelaide in the AFL competition, taking the reins during a period of tremendous upheaval at the club.

Coach Matthew Primus and chairman Brett Duncanson had finished up towards the tail end of 2012, the team was languishing near the tail end of the ladder, and the infamous tarp era – where large, monogrammed plastic sheets were used to cover empty bays of seats – happened only two years prior.

Ken Hinkley and David Koch took over, with a 24-year-old Boak stepping up in place of skipper Dom Cassisi.

It had only been six months earlier when Geelong – fresh off a run of three flags – had made a brazen bid to lure Boak back to the familiar surrounds of Victoria's Surf Coast.

Travis Boak celebrates a goal during the R17 match between Port Adelaide and Gold Coast at Adelaide Oval on July 8, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Cats coach Chris Scott, superstars Joel Selwood and Jimmy Bartel and list manager Stephen Wells flew over to Adelaide to present their bid in person, but were spotted at Melbourne airport and the story spread like wildfire.

Bartel later told he knew within the first five minutes of sitting down with Boak that the Cats were no chance of landing their man, who was backing the Power to the hilt despite their woes both on and off the field.

Less than a week after the meeting, Boak told Port Adelaide he was sticking with them and was happy to sign a fresh deal.

"It was a big decision to make, and one that took a fair bit of time to process all the information – go back home and be closer to family and be part of the Geelong footy club, which is a great club and was going well at the time, and we weren't going so well," Boak told reporters on Wednesday.

Travis Boak in action during the R5 match between Port Adelaide and West Coast at Subiaco in 2008. Picture: AFL Photos

"But there was just so much here – myself, Robbie (Gray), Jacko (Jackson Trengove) – a lot of players didn't want to walk away from. We were well-entrenched in this club to try and move it forward and that's what we wanted to do. 

"We were struggling as a footy club, and whether you're struggling in life as an individual, or struggling in business or wherever it is, as a family, the only way to get through it is to go through it, and not leave that situation. That's what we did, we had to push through it and change things."

Coach Hinkley said Boak had done an "endless list" of things for the club over the journey, and is "the reason Port Adelaide is almost still around".

"It's been remarkable. He was the captain when I first got to the football club. He shouldered a lot, he shouldered a responsibility with change, when we came together," Hinkley said.

"Then he's been able to transition from being the captain to the next people (Ollie Wines and Tom Jonas) and helping to support them, all while supporting me. 

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

"I will always be grateful for Travis and what he's been able to do. I've been lucky to be involved with 240-odd games together, and he's going to be one of the special people in my life forever.

"The club's here, but what Travis did and selflessly did for us, was to make sure this football club re-established itself."

Drafted with pick No.5 in 2006 – a cohort that has only Boak, Tom Hawkins and Todd Goldstein remaining – there was no doubting the talent of the star junior, going on to play in the qualifying, preliminary and Grand Final in his first season.


Boak said his mum Chicki had memorised his draft number – the roughly six-digit individual identification code given to each nominee – and swore as soon as it was read out attached to the Power, leaving the room to compose herself before returning to celebrate.

It was a more-than-useful draft haul for the Power, netting the club Gray, Justin Westhoff, Nathan Krakouer, Paul Stewart and David Rodan (via Richmond).

A midfielder with a dangerous mix of contested ball-winning strength, speed from the contest and elite kicking skills, time and time again Boak has dragged the Power on his back, hauled them away from a stoppage, and set up a shot at goal at a crucial moment – or even kicked the goal himself.

The highly talented sportsman keeps his eye in on the cricket field, travelling home in December to feature in a match for the Torquay Tigers in the annual "Battle of the Bridge" against neighbouring Jan Juc, featuring the Curnow brothers.

"He's an incredible leader. He had this knack to step up in big moments and he kicked so many big goals, particularly in his first couple of years when he was a bit younger as captain," long-term teammate Wines said.

"I remember his first year at captain, at AAMI Stadium – our last year there was his first year as captain – and some of the goals he kicked to lead us to the first couple of finals campaigns under Ken, just when someone had to step up and win a game, that was him. 

"I've still got memories of him with his buzz cut and his black Adidas boots kicking big goals at AAMI Stadium. They, for whatever reason, always stick out in my mind."

I will always be grateful for Travis and what he's been able to do. I've been lucky to be involved with 240-odd games together, and he's going to be one of the special people in my life forever

- Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley

One of Boak's philosophies, declared on his Instagram bio in capital letters, is "HUMAN BEING FIRST – ATHLETE SECOND".

He holds his charity work dear, recognised with the 2021 Jim Stynes Community Leadership award for his work with the Childhood Cancer Association, also fostering a partnership between the foundation and club. 

Boak's father Roger passed away with stomach cancer 18 months before Travis found his way onto Port Adelaide's list.

"It's part and parcel of 'Boaky'. He wants to be a good person before he's a good footballer, and part of that is what he does, particularly for the childhood cancer charity," Wines said.


"He's always putting his hand up, he always goes above and beyond to help others before himself. That role model is what a football club needs, and what society needs. 

"I've almost learnt more from 'Boaky' off-field than on-field of how to be a good person and a good family member. I think it's so important, and he reflects that in how he lives his life."

That family-first mentality and personal experience with the emotional upheaval associated with an interstate move at a young age has meant Boak has long been an older brother to first-year Power players making the same move.

"For me personally, having someone from interstate and a country Victorian was really beneficial. Our upbringings and everything like that have been similar in ways, he's from Geelong and I'm from Echuca," Wines said.

"He hasn't just helped me, I know his mum Chicki has helped my parents a lot in moving, and those first couple of years where there was some hesitation with it all and probably feeling uncomfortable at times, he's been there to lean on and ask questions. 

"I wouldn't be the only one to say that, I think with all the boys that particularly come from interstate, he's always been there, he's always had us over for dinners, and made us feel really welcome from day one."

Boak's stewardship of younger players has extended to the off-season in recent years, travelling to the US for training camps with Charlie Dixon in 2019, then Connor Rozee, Zak Butters, Mitch Georgiades, Ryan Burton after lockdowns, and last year, Jason Horne-Francis.

Travis Boak with Zak Butters and Connor Rozee after the R10 match between Port Adelaide and Hawthorn at UTAS Stadium on May 25, 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

It also ties neatly with his relentless quest to be the best athlete he can, eking as many kilometres out of his 35-year-old legs as possible, missing only 26 games in a touch over 17 seasons.

Boak had an extraordinary second wind to his career, spending some time up forward in 2017 and 2018 before returning to the midfield with a bang, taking out the Power's best and fairest in 2019. 

In 2020, at 32 years old, Boak returned to the All-Australian team, named vice-captain for his third appearance overall and first since 2014.

Lachie Neale nearly lapped everyone in the Brownlow count that year, but Boak finished second, was runner-up in the AFLPA peer-voted award, and third in the AFLCA game-by-game count.

Ollie Wines and Travis Boak at the 2020 Brownlow Medal at Adelaide Oval on October 18, 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

Unsurprisingly, with Boak in vintage touch, Port Adelaide made the leap from 10th to first that year, losing a preliminary final to eventual premier Richmond.

"The longevity he's got out of his career – through his commitment to his body and finding ways to keep healthy and fit and doing things throughout the off-season that no one else has been willing to do – is incredible," Wines said.

"No one, I don't think, has put more time or money into his body to stay in the shape and keep playing football at the age he is. 

"I think in this modern-day game, there aren't going to be many players, if any, that reach 350. It's such a tough game, but he's maximised everything in his career to get to this point. It's probably his biggest area of strength, finding areas to keep improving at this age."