Games Won 10
Ladder Position 9
Premiership position: Ninth in 15-team competition (10 wins, 12 losses)
Coach: Graham Cornes
Captain: Chris McDermott
Everything was new and exciting for the Adelaide Football Club in 1991 but the biggest unknown was how the team would handle the challenges of the first season in the AFL.
Predictions varied but the need to be competitive was regularly highlighted by the Club. In the end, ten wins from 22 games to finish ninth was widely seen as a solid achievement for the new club.
There were some brutal losses at Victorian club grounds, a couple of good wins on the road, and the Crows were difficult to play at Football Park.
The hype surrounding the first South Australian AFL team intensified after a successful pre-season offered a positive preview.
A trial game win against Essendon, followed by pre-season Foster’s Cup wins against Geelong (by 77 points) and St Kilda (at Melbourne’s Waverley Park), lifted hopes that the Crows could be competitive.
When Adelaide opened the premiership season with a stunning 86-point win over Hawthorn at Football Park, expectations grew exponentially.
Although the Crows had a brilliant start and finished the season with a stirring thrashing of North Melbourne at home in front of a captivated crowd, finding consistency proved difficult.
Coach Graham Cornes said: “Match-winning performances one week were often spoiled by disappointing losses the following week as we struggled to adjust to the different environment and contrasting conditions in which we had to play.”
Adelaide’s arrival as the competition’s 15th team created the need for a bye and was the first addition since West Coast and Brisbane were born in 1987. A final six replaced the final five and the minor round was spread over 24 rounds, with each team playing 22 games.
Reality hit the week after the opening round win over Hawthorn. Adelaide again played at home but this time Carlton was too good, winning by 23 points.
The Crows’ first interstate contest went well, Scott Hodges kicking six goals in a 24-point win over Sydney at the SCG. But they then lost the next five away games to Essendon, West Coast, St Kilda, North Melbourne and Geelong, punctuated by two wins at Football Park against Footscray and Melbourne.
The losses to St Kilda (by 131 points) and Geelong (84) were particularly painful and Adelaide also copped a 123-point hiding against Collingwood at Victoria Park in round 15. The next week eventual premiers Hawthorn kicked 8.11 to 0.1 in the first quarter before winning by 63 points at Waverley Park.
It was not all bad news. A goal after the final siren by Rod Jameson secured a win against Fitzroy in round 12 and the following week the Crows had their first win in Victoria, toppling Richmond at the MCG in the wet. Adelaide also upset Carlton at Princes Park in round 17, knocked off Essendon with a sensational second half and then kicked its biggest score of the season in the last minor round to end a run of three consecutive losses.
Thirty-seven players represented Crows in the first season and Grantley Fielke, Scott Lee and Rodney Maynard played every game (22).
Mark Mickan was the inaugural Crows Club Champion, despite missing the first three games of the season. He also polled 14 Brownlow Medal votes to be the top Crow, 11 votes behind winner Jim Stynes (Melbourne).
Star recruit Tony McGuinness was runner-up for the Club Champion. Defender Nigel Smart finished third and was the first Crow honoured with All Australian selection, in the back pocket.
Chris McDermott’s leadership on and off the field was also crucial for the new club.
Jameson led the goalkicking, finishing with 49 after kicking eight in the last game, and Maynard received the Best Team Man award.
Many other Crows confirmed their AFL qualities but perhaps the biggest improver was young ruck Shaun Rehn, who played the last six AFL games and collected the three Brownlow Medal votes as best-on-ground in the last game.
Financially, Adelaide reported a far stronger result than many expected.
Revenue reached $4.75 million and the surplus of $490,000 allowed SANFL sub-licence fees of $472,000. There were also transfer fees totalling $610,000 to the SANFL clubs, and the extra use of Football Park and its facilities also led to a record surplus of $3.16 million for the SANFL’s headquarters.
Adelaide had the biggest home game attendances in the AFL, with a total of 445,836 attending 11 games at Football Park. The Club had 11,000 season ticketholders but there were another 15,000 Football Park members who paid extra for AFL game access.
Despite the short lead-in to the season, Adelaide also locked in supportive sponsors, highlighted by a three-year major sponsor deal with Toyota Motor Corporation. The Camry Crows had arrived.
Adelaide Chairman Bob Hammond said: “To bring together people from all walks of life, from all football persuasions, from a State league to a national league, to perform competitively, generate significant sponsorship support and bring a traditional but new support base should stand as a great sense of achievement to every person involved.”
- Abernethy, Fielke, McDermott, McGuinness, Maynard, Mickan, Smith and Tregenza represented South Australia in the State-of-Origin game against Victoria at Football Park. Victoria won by 16 points.
- Bartlett, McIntyre, Murphy, Rouvray, Smith and Tasker played for the SANFL State side which lost to Western Australia by 44 points at Subiaco Oval.
- Darel Hart won the Jack Oatey Medal as best afield in the SANFL grand final after kicking seven goals in North Adelaide’s win over West Adelaide.
- Ben Hart, Brenton Sanderson and Peter Turner represented South Australia’s title-winning Under 17 Teal Cup side and all three were then named in the All Australian U17 side.
|Club Champion top dozen|
|1: Mark Mickan 37 votes|
2: Tony McGuinness 35
3: Nigel Smart 32
4: Andrew Jarman 29
5: Chris McDermott 25
6: David Marshall 24
7: Simon Tregenza 20
8: John Klug 16
9: Grantley Fielke 13
10: Sean Tasker 11
11: Scott Lee 9
12: Matthew Liptak 9
(5,4,3,2,1 by match committee)
|49 Rod Jameson|
30 Scott Hodges
28 John Klug
18 Peter McIntyre
18 Michael Murphy
17 Tony McGuinness
17 Matthew Liptak
15 Bruce Lindner
14 Darel Hart
|Brownlow Medal votes|
11 A Jarman
Adelaide’s original jumper design
First game players, v Hawthorn at Football Park, 22/3/1991
Chris McDermott (debut no 1), Tony McGuinness (2), Romano Negri (3), Andrew Jarman (4), Darel Hart (5), Nigel Smart (6), Eddie Hocking (7), Bruce Lindner (8), Simon Tregenza (9), Scott Lee (10), David Marshall (11), Rodney Maynard (12), John Klug (13), Peter McIntyre (14), Darren Smith (15), Grantley Fielke (16), Bruce Lindsay (17), Rodney Maynard (18), Robbie Thompson, (19), Tom Warhurst (20).
|Other first game players|
|Allan Bartlett, v Carlton, at Football Park, 31/3/1991 (21)|
Scott Hodges, v Carlton, at Football Park, 31/3/1991 (22)
Michael Murphy, v Carlton, at Football Park, 31/3/1991 (23)
Bruce Abernethy, v Sydney at SCG, 7/4/1991 (24)
Danny Hughes, v Sydney at the SCG, 7/4/1991 (25)
Stephen Rowe, v Sydney at the SCG, 7/4/1991 (26)
Mark Bickley, v Essendon, at Windy Hill, 13/4/1991 (27)
Mark Mickan, v Essendon, at Windy Hill, 13/4/1991 (28)
Clayton Lamb, v West Coast at Subiaco, 21/4/1991 (29)
|Matthew Liptak, v North Melbourne at MCG, 17/5/1991 (30) |
David Brown, v Fitzroy at Football Park, 9/6/1991 (31)
Sean Tasker, v Collingwood at Victoria Park, 29/6/1991 (32)
Matthew Kelly, v Hawthorn at AFL Park, 6/7/1991 (33)
Wayne Weidemann, v Hawthorn at AFL Park, 6/7/1991 (34)
Shaun Rehn, v Sydney at Football Park, 21/7/1991 (35)
Andrew Payze, v Essendon at Football Park, 28/7/1991 (36)
Paul Patterson, v St Kilda at Football Park, 16/8/1991 (37)
The 1991 squad
Back row (from left): Wayne Weidemann (50), Peter Turner (47), Jonathon Ross (39), Trevor Clisby (29), Allan Bartlett (14), John Klug (20), Mark Mickan (25), David Pittman (15), Romano Negri (1), Darren Bartsch (4), Darren Smith (28), Paul Patterson (46), Tom Warhurst (44), Danny Hughes (19), Clayton Lamb (6), Rod Jameson (35), Matthew Kelly (42), Jarrod Hocking (38), Shaun Rehn (52). Middle row: Damien McCarthy (33), Damien Mellow (37), Adam Saliba (43), Stephen Schwerdt (40), Michael Murphy (22), Rodney Maynard (18), Peter McIntyre (23), Scott Hodges (17), Paul Rouvray (45), Sean Tasker (49), Robbie Thompson (41), Simon Tregenza (12), Darel Hart (3), Scott Lee (13), Andrew Jarman (2), Brenton Sanderson (36), Randall Bone (51). Front row: Bruce Lindsay (32), Grantley Fielke (30), Mark Bickley (26), Stephen Rowe (31), Andrew Payze (24), Bruce Lindner (9), Chris McDermott (captain, 10), Graham Cornes (senior coach), Michael Taylor (assistant coach), Tony McGuinness (11), David Marshall (16), David Brown (21), Matthew Liptak (27), Nigel Smart (7), Eddie Hocking (8), Ben Hart (34). Absent: Grant Tanner (48).