Adelaide’s introduction to the AFL pitted the Crows against the best team of the era, Hawthorn. The Hawks had won four flags in the past eight seasons, from six grand final appearances. Adelaide was a team brought together inside five months.
If the Crows were nervous on debut, it certainly did not show. The night ended in a stunning 86-point upset for Adelaide, in front of a raucous home crowd. Hawthorn had been outclassed by the newcomers.
The season did not quite follow in the footsteps of the opening success but the Crows had little to feel disparaged by. Wins over Sydney and Footscray further revealed this was a team ready to shake up the ladder.
A 131-point loss to free-scoring St Kilda was the first major blemish, before Adelaide picked up a proud win over Melbourne and then Richmond at the MCG – the Club’s first win in the state.
After 14 rounds Adelaide was in seventh place, one spot away from finals footy. It would have been an outstanding achievement to make it but against that year’s finalists the Crows just fell short. A final round win over North Melbourne, by 73 points, ensured the year finished on a high.
Adelaide would have also felt confident of future success knowing they beat Hawthorn in Round One, the same team who would go on to claim its fifth premiership in nine seasons.
Among a new squad it was always going to be interesting to see which Crows asserted dominance on the field. Chris McDermott and Mark Mickan were among the competition’s best and Mickan was rewarded, being named Adelaide’s inaugural Club Champion.
Nigel Smart was another to etch his name in Club history as Adelaide’s first All-Australian. He was the only Crow selected in 1991, adding to the glamour of the selection.