The pre-season competition was established from the Australian Football Championships Night Series in 1988. The Night Series had been a competition featuring VFL, SANFL, WAFL and minor states representative teams which had been staged partly in the pre-season and partly during the premiership season, generally finishing in July; but, it had reduced in size and importance until 1987, when only VFL teams were involved and the competition was finished by the end of April. In 1988, the competition was moved entirely into the pre-season, and became the VFL Pre-season Cup. The pre-season competition is generally considered to be of equivalent importance as both the AFC Night Series and the VFL Night Series (1956–1971), and records relating to the three competitions are often combined.
Ansett Australia had the naming rights from 1995 to 2001 when they went into administration following a financial collapse and liquidation.
Port Power’s first official match was in the Ansett Cup against Fremantle.
The 2000 AFL Ansett Australia Cup was the Australian Football League pre-season Cup competition played in its entirety before the Australian Football League’s 2000 Premiership Season began.
Unlike most pre-season cup competitions that start in February, the 2000 Cup started on 31 December 1999 with a one-off Match of the Millennium between Carlton and Collingwood Football Club, most notable for the competition record 12 goals by Brendan Fevola. The competition culminated with the Grand Final in February 2000 between Essendon, the eventual 2000 AFL Premiers, and the Kangaroos, the reigning 1999 AFL Premiers. Essendon’s undefeated run through the pre-season was a precursor to their dominance in the premiership season, in which they only lost one match. The final was held in February, rather than March as per most other pre-seasons, due to the season being played earlier in the year so that the finals would not clash with the 2000 Summer Olympics to be held in Sydney in late September.
In 2001 the final was played for the first time between two non-Victorian teams, and consequently the match was played outside Victoria, at Football Park in Adelaide.
The Brisbane Lions (the eventual regular season premiers) were playing in its first grand final of any kind (since the merger with Fitzroy), while Port Adelaide were playing in their second pre-season grand final after going down to Hawthorn back in 1999. The Brisbane Lions were unhappy with the arrangements for the final, as they had to travel interstate for the 4th time in 5 games, while Port Adelaide played their 4th game at home.
In the final, Port Adelaide took out their first pre season title with a convincing 85-point thumping of the Brisbane Lions. After an even first 1/4, Port took control in the second term with an 8 goal to 0 blitz, during which Stuart Dew kicked 3 goals in 3 minutes, and comfortably held on to secure the first silverware the club had won since their 1997 entry into the AFL.