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Adelaide Football Club - Crows History Locker

Adelaide Crows first winning team 1991

These are the men who will forever be known as the first Crows

It was March 22, 1991, when South Australian football took a giant leap into a national competition on the back of the new Adelaide Football Club, hastily created and built over five hectic months.

The Crows, boasting only three players with VFL or AFL experience, were pitted against competition heavyweights Hawthorn, winners of four premierships from six grand finals in the previous seven seasons. “Get some Hawk on your fork,” suggested the banner, raised to welcome the 20 Crows onto Football Park.

Pictured: Adelaide’s first team. Back row (from left), Maynard, Warhurst, McIntyre, Klug, Smart, Thompson. Middle: Lindsay, A. Jarman, Tregenza, Jameson, Lindner, Lee, D. Hart. Front: E. Hocking, McGuinness, Michael Taylor (assistant coach), Graham Cornes (coach), McDermott (captain), Fielke, Marshall. Missing: Smith, Negri

The landslide 86 point win, however, stunned the football world.

Riding on a wave of emotion, Adelaide kicked the first five goals before Hawthorn scored and held a 26-point lead at the first break.

By half-time, the Crows were 51 points ahead of the team that six months later would raise the Premiership cup.

The media hype had been growing for several months and this amazing win added to the momentum.

The front page headline of the next day’s Advertiser screamed “Sweet Victory!”

Leo Schlink wrote: “Adelaide’s magic Crows tasted sweet victory last night by humbling the mighty Hawthorn.”

“In the bullpit that was Football Park, the Crows marked their entry into the highest competition in the land with a breathtaking performance that held spellbound an ecstatic 44,902 crowd.”

The list of Crows ‘firsts’ starts with Romano Negri winning the first tap, John Klug the first handball and Simon Tregenza the first (and second) kicks. Then 1982 Magarey Medallist Tony McGuinness, back in South Australia after five seasons with Footscray, booted the first of Adelaide’s 24 goals on opening night.

There were some great stories from among this fortunate group of first Crows. Captain Chris McDermott had not followed close mates Stephen Kernahan and McGuinness into the VFL but, after 265 games with Glenelg, finally played at the highest level.

Unfortunately, his memories are hazy because he was knocked out in a collision with Dermott Brereton and Paul Dear early in the last quarter. There were other experienced SANFL campaigners including Bruce Lindsay, Darel Hart and Tom Warhurst, who also thought their opportunity to advance to the highest level had come and gone.

Scott Lee had played some reserve games with Hawthorn early in the 1980s before getting his second chance at the highest level after several years at Central District.

At the age of 24, Norwood’s reliable farmer Rodney Maynard kicked three goals from half-back to have some critics asking, ‘where has he been hiding?’ Before the first bounce, Andrew Jarman – socks pulled up over his knees – lined up next to younger brother and new Hawk Darren in the centre square.

Nigel Smart made his debut at full-back against Jason Dunstall, one of the era’s greatest full forwards. John Klug, the casual moving but highly effective centre half-forward, walked over to Football Park to play after spending the day at work for Westpac Bank in West Lakes Mall.

And the smallest Crow, Eddie Hocking, jumped over Hawthorn’s Gary Ayres and Chris Langford to take a mark that sent the 45,000 fans into raptures. But arguably the greatest story was that of David Marshall.

Many interstate observers wanted to know more about the “young” wingman who had 22 kicks, seven handballs and booted two goals in a performance widely rated as the best of the lot.

Marshall, in fact, was the oldest of the Crows to make his AFL debut that night (at 30 years and 265 days). He had already played 322 SANFL games for Glenelg, where he played in two premierships (1985-86) and won a best-and-fairest in 1990, but had never attracted any strong interest from VFL clubs.

THE FIRST TEAM

F: Bruce Lindner, Peter McIntyre, Darel Hart

HF: Darren Smith, John Klug, Grantley Fielke

C: Simon Tregenza, Andrew Jarman, David Marshall

HB: Bruce Lindsay, Tom Warhurst, Robbie Thompson

B: Scott Lee, Nigel Smart, Rodney Maynard

1R: Romano Negri, Chris McDermott ,Tony McGuinness

Inter: Rod Jameson, Eddie Hocking

SCOREBOARD

Adelaide 6.2 11.6 17.10 24.11 (155)

Hawthorn 2.0 3.3 6.8 9.15 (69)

Crows goals: Lindner, Klug, McIntyre 4, McGuinness, Maynard 3, Smith 2, Marshall, Hart, Jarman 1.

Crows best: Jarman, Smart, Marshall, Klug, Tregenza, Maynard, Lee.

Crowd: 44,902