1997 AFL Premiership
Adelaide’s first AFL premiership will perhaps always stand as the Club’s greatest triumph.
Reaching the decider against St Kilda was no easy feat. During the 1990s the AFL used the McIntyre Final Eight system where the top eight played in qualifying finals in week one, with Adelaide hosting West Coast in a battle of fourth v fifth.
In today’s format the Crows would have played minor premiers St Kilda with a victory securing a second week bye – but under that system they had to win four consecutive games to lift the premiership.
Undaunted, Adelaide did just that with a 33-point win over the Eagles and two tight wins over Geelong and Western Bulldogs. In the preliminary final at the MCG Adelaide trailed by 31 points at half-time and 22 at quarter-time before winning by two points.
That win meant Adelaide was the first club to win four finals to clinch a flag in the runaway 31-point defeat of St Kilda, in front of 99,645 fans.
Adelaide again trailed at half-time before spirited performances from Norm Smith Medalist Andrew McLeod and Darren Jarman broke the game apart.
McLeod gathered 31 possessions in his best-on-ground performance while Jarman booted six goals after slotting into the full-forward position in the second half.
They were not the only heroes. Defender Shane Ellen made a shock switch to the forward line and kicked five majors, Shaun Rehn dominated the ruck and David Pittman shut down key Saint Stewart Loewe. A cheeky Troy Bond snapped four goals from the pocket.
Incredibly, Adelaide claimed the premiership without injured All Australians, Tony Modra and Mark Ricciuto. Modra suffered an ACL injury in the preliminary final while goal sneak Peter Vardy also suffered a late season injury – breaking his collarbone in the semi-final after playing every game of the year. One year later Vardy and Ricciuto were rewarded as a part of Adelaide’s 1998 premiership team.
B: Ben Hart, Rod Jameson, Simon Goodwin
HB: Andrew McLeod, David Pittman, Peter Caven
C: Kym Koster, Mark Bickley, Matthew Connell
HF: Clay Sampson, Matthew Robran, Chad Rintoul
F: Troy Bond, Shane Ellen, Nigel Smart
R: Shaun Rehn, Kane Johnson, Darren Jarman
Int: Aaron Keating, Brett James, Tyson Edwards
Coach: Malcolm Blight
Adelaide 3.8 5.10 11.11 19.11 (125)
St Kilda 3.6 7.11 9.13 13.16 (94)
Best: McLeod, Jarman, Hart, Ellen, Bond, Pittman, Rehn, Caven
Goals: Jarman 6, Ellen 5, Bond 4, Smart, Goodwin, Rintoul, Caven