1992: The eight recruits
They were the eight Crows recruits with futures so bright they needed shades.
Adelaide’s last chance to benefit from a two-year freeze on other AFL clubs drafting from SANFL clubs led to a lengthy audition for about 15 players during the summer before the 1992 season.
All showed some promise but only eight concession picks were allowed, forcing some difficult decisions.
The overall success rate was high, however, as the group included a future Brownlow Medallist and century goalkicker among three All-Australians.
Mark Ricciuto, 16, was the youngest of the eight. The Waikerie senior premiership star made the All Australian Teal Cup side in 1991 and was pursued enthusiastically by Crows football manager Neil Kerley.
Seventeen-year-old key position player Sean Wellman, from North Adelaide, was rated as South Australia’s best player at the Teal Cup and made his league debut in 1991.
Forward Anthony Ingerson, 22, won Central District’s best-and-fairest in 1991 and was the first from this group to play for the Crows in main trials.
Anthony Modra, 22, showed promise at full forward with West Adelaide after being convinced to give the SANFL another shot.
Michael DiBiase, a 20-year-old rover or half-forward who made his league debut with Woodville-West Torrens in 1991, booked his spot with four goals in a Crows internal trial.
Sturt’s Seb Packer, 18, was an All Australian Teal Cup rep in 1990 and was picked by the Crows despite not playing in 1991, after hurting his knee in a school basketball game.
Glenelg’s tough Mark Viska, 20, who had played league football across half-back, and promising South Adelaide tall Chris Groom, 18, completed the eight concession picks.
Other players who trained with the Crows that summer included Brett James, Paul Prymke, Darryl Wakelin, Hugh Reimers, Sam Smart, Greg Mellor, Simon Hele and Brodie Atkinson. 1991 SANFL leading goalkicker Scott Morphett declined his invitation.
It was also not the end of the AFL dream for some of the young players who missed out. One eventually played in both 1997-98 Crows premierships and another played 251 AFL games at two rival clubs and won a premiership.
Ricciuto: Spent the 1992 season in the SANFL with West Adelaide and then from 1993-2007 played 312 AFL games for Adelaide. He is an eight-time All-Australian, three-time Crows Club Champion, a premiership player in 1998 and won the Brownlow Medal in 2003. In 2015 Ricciuto was named in Adelaide’s Hall of Fame.
Wellman: Overcame a serious back injury to play 34 AFL games for Adelaide in 1994-95 before crossing to Essendon, where he played another 178 games, was in the 2000 premiership side, and was a two-time All Australian.
Modra: Made a late start to his AFL career but became one of the most successful full forwards in the AFL era. After booting 129 goals in 1993, he finished his AFL career with a total of 588 goals in 165 games for Adelaide and Fremantle. Modra is a two-time All Australian and won the Coleman Medal in 1997 but missed that season’s Crows premiership through injury. Was named in Adelaide’s Hall of Fame in 2015.
Ingerson: Made his AFL debut in round one of the 1992 season and played 37 games for the Crows in four seasons. But he had more success with Melbourne, where he played 121 games in six seasons, mainly as a key defender.
Viska: Played 33 AFL games for the Crows across five seasons and finished back at Glenelg, where he played 143 games.
Groom: Kicked five goals on debut for South Adelaide in the SANFL in 1992. He made his Crows debut in the opening round of 1993 but after 12 games in two years was traded to Fremantle for the rights to Andrew McLeod. Groom kicked three goals in Fremantle’s first AFL game in 1995, and five in his second game for the Dockers. But he was delisted despite kicking 70 goals for Subiaco in the WAFL, including five in a winning grand final. North Melbourne then drafted Groom but he endured two knee reconstructions before playing five more AFL games in 1997-98.
Packer: After a series of knee operations, he eventually played eight league games for Sturt in 1992 but had his right kneecap removed at the end of the season. The Crows kept him on their list until the end of 1993.
DiBiase: Played a mix of league and reserves with the Eagles in 1992, when he was a part of his club’s SANFL reserves premiership but was delisted by Adelaide after just one season. Played 74 league games for the Eagles.
James: Was drafted by Collingwood, where he played 42 games in three seasons, and was then traded to Adelaide where he played in two AFL premierships in his first two seasons at West Lakes. James played 76 games for Adelaide until 2000 and then returned full-time to Norwood where he won three best and fairest awards, captained the club and his state.
Wakelin: Was claimed by Adelaide at the 1993 pre-season draft but did not play an AFL game in his two seasons. Was best-afield for Port Adelaide in its 1994 SANFL Premiership and then moved to St Kilda, where he played 115 games. Then returned to Port’s AFL side for another 146 games and was at full back in the 2004 premiership.
Prymke: The key defender/forward from Mildura played in the Woodville-West Torrens 1993 SANFL premiership side and then moved to Melbourne, where he played 49 AFL games but was forced into early retirement by a back injury.
Smart: Adelaide drafted the 198cm Norwood ruck as a 17-year-old in the 1992 national draft but didn’t play an AFL game in two years on the list, while he juggled medical studies. Smart was later drafted by Carlton, played one AFL game in 1997 and was a member of the club’s night premiership that year.
Atkinson: After leaving North Adelaide for a taste of AFL with St Kilda (two games in 1993), he returned to the SANFL with North and then Sturt. He won the 1997 Magarey Medal at Sturt and his consistent form at local level was eventually rewarded when, aged 26, the midfielder as picked by the Crows at pick No. 80 in the 1998 national draft. Atkinson played in the opening AFL game of the 1999 season but only played four more games for Adelaide after battling injuries. He played in Sturt’s 2002 SANFL premiership.