Games Won 8
Ladder Position 12
Premiership position: 12th in 16-team competition (8 wins, 14 losses)
Coach: Robert Shaw
Captain: Tony McGuinness
At the time, season 1996 was a disaster for the Adelaide Football Club. In hindsight, it was the year some major pieces of a premiership puzzle clicked into place.
The Crows finished 12th, winning only eight of their 22 games despite a blazing start that inspired dreams of a return to the finals under second-year coach Robert Shaw.
The pre-season had promised so much more, after a restructure of the football department, aggressive recruiting and the players’ move into a state-of-the-art facility.
The Crows appointed straight-shooting former South Adelaide coach John Reid as football operations manager and original Crow Darel Hart returned as assistant coach, after three years in charge at SANFL club North Adelaide. Former Australian women’s basketballer Pat Mickan, a sister of 1991 Club Champion Mark Mickan, also joined the club as a specialist coach with a focus on agility and speed.
The biggest recruiting coup was Darren Jarman, who returned to South Australia and reunited with older brother Andrew after five seasons with Hawthorn. He played 109 games for the Hawks, won a premiership medal in 1991 and was the club’s best-and-fairest in 1995.
The complicated deal to secure 28-year-old Jarman involved four clubs and cost the Crows promising defender/forward Sean Wellman, who moved to Essendon.
Trades were also completed for Kym Koster (from Footscray), Troy Bond (Carlton) and Peter Caven (Sydney). Then full forward Scott Hodges, who had left the Crows at the end of 1993 and returned to the SANFL, was a shock selection in the 1995 national draft.
Several other players of interest, including South Adelaide’s Brendon Lade and Norwood’s Roger James, did not nominate for the draft but the Crows secured Victoria Metro U17 leaders Brent Williams and Kane Johnson with their first two picks.
Then, on the eve of the season, Adelaide cut teenagers Allen Nash and Toby Kennett to claim three players at the pre-season draft. Ex-Footscray utility Shane Ellen, South Adelaide’s Simon Goodwin – the State Under-19 cricket captain – and West Perth premiership wingman Brendan Logan were the last of 12 changes to the 1995 squad.
For the first time, Adelaide wore a new guernsey for the pre-season games, starting with the AFL Lightning Premiership centenary carnival in Melbourne. Each knock-out game consisted of two 17-minute halves but Adelaide’s involvement finished with a first round loss to Fremantle.
After five years of a nomadic existence sharing rooms beneath the Football Park members’ stand, Adelaide shifted into its new changerooms and training facility on the eastern side of the stadium.
The $2.3 million clubrooms featured a players’ lockers area, 25m two-lane-pool, weights room, medical clinic, theatre meeting room, warm-up area and a clubroom for players and officials. Adelaide chairman Bob Hammond said: “The facility is an integral part in the development of a club ethos and soul that is a fundamental aspect of a successful club.”
Adelaide shot to the top of the ladder and played some outstanding attacking football to win its first four home-and-away games against Sydney (by 90 points), Fitzroy (32) – when the Jarman brothers combined to kick 14 goals – Geelong (64) and Essendon (96). Caven kicked four goals on debut in the opening round against his previous club, including three in the first term.
Further victories against Fremantle and St Kilda gave the Crows a 6-2 start but their form crashed after the State-of-Origin game and they managed only two more wins in the last 14 rounds.
Injuries again rocked the Crows. A year after first injuring his right knee and needing a reconstruction, Shaun Rehn damaged the same knee and missed the rest of the season. Simon Tregenza and Koster also needed knee reconstructions.
There was also some unrest among the senior players. Andrew Jarman was told he was dropped to the SANFL but he was suspended for two games after refusing to play for the Crows as a late replacement for the round 18 game against Geelong.
Shaw was under relentless pressure from supporters and the media in the second half of the season and the growing speculation around the coaching job led to his decision to leave. The poor season also forced major changes in the playing squad. Adelaide’s first captain Chris McDermott was farewelled after playing his last AFL game in round 22. Then 1993 Club Champion Tony McGuinness, Andrew Jarman and Greg Anderson were gone.
Highlights were difficult to find. Darren Jarman enjoyed a successful first season and was Adelaide’s only All Australian, after kicking 46 goals.
Rover Matthew Liptak had his best season with the Crows, winning the Club Champion Award. Liptak, Best Team Man Matthew Robran and Darren Jarman were locked in a three-way tie with one round of votes to count but Liptak moved ahead and Nigel Smart jumped into the runner-up position, one vote ahead of Jarman and Robran.
Tony Modra missed the first three weeks of the season but kicked 75 goals from 19 games and David Pittman stood tall in ruck after Rehn’s second reconstruction. Peter Vardy, who made his AFL debut alongside Johnson in round 14, won the Emerging Talent Award.
- Crows Andrew Jarman, Bickley, Hart, Liptak, Modra, Ricciuto, Robran and Smart represented South Australia in the 35-point State-of-Origin win against Western Australia at Football Park. Modra kicked eight goals to win the Fos Williams Medal as SA’s best player. Connell represented WA.
- Adelaide’s surplus for 1996 was $422,000 after payment of the sub-licence fee to the SANFL of $1.46 million. The total distribution to the SANFL in the first six years was $6.7m. Membership sold out for the fifth consecutive season.
- The Crows invited nearly 20 SANFL players to pre-season training before the 1995 draft. Michael Wilson was the only Port player to accept but the AFL then blocked the move, only allowing players who had previously nominated twice for the AFL draft.
- Adelaide kicked a club record 14.2 in the second quarter of its round 17 win against Fitzroy at Football Park.
- Seven Crows played their 100th AFL game for the Club in 1996 – Smart, Mark Bickley, McGuinness, Liptak, Andrew Jarman, Rod Jameson and Ben Hart.
- Hart took Mark of the Year against St Kilda in round eight, at Football Park.
- Hodges only played two AFL games after his return to the Crows but kicked 117 goals for Port in the SANFL.
- Original Crow and former Norwood player Rodney Maynard was selected in the All-Australian Country side after the national carnival in Cairns.
Awards and Achievements
All Australian: Darren Jarman
Best Team Man: Matthew Robran
Coach’s Award: Mark Bickley
Emerging Talent: Peter Vardy
Leading goalkicker: Tony Modra
In: Darren Jarman (Hawthorn), Troy Bond (Carlton), Kym Koster (Footscray), Peter Caven (Sydney), Brent Williams (Sandringham U18), Kane Johnson (Eastern U18), Ashley Fernee (Calder U18), Adam Ugrinic (Woodville-West Torrens), Scott Hodges (Port Adelaide Magpies), Shane Ellen (Footscray), Simon Goodwin (South Adelaide), Brendan Logan (West Perth)
First game players
Troy Bond, v Sydney at Football Park, 31/3/96 (debut number 68)
Peter Caven, v Sydney at Football Park, 31/3/96 (69)
Shane Ellen, v Sydney at Football Park, 31/3/96 (70)
Darren Jarman, v Sydney at Football Park, 31/3/96 (71)
Kym Koster, v Sydney at Football Park, 31/3/96 (72)
Matthew Collins, v West Coast at Football Park, 9/6/96 (73)
Kane Johnson, v Brisbane at Football Park, 6/7/96 (74)
Peter Vardy, v Brisbane at Football Park, 6/7/96 (75)
Ashley Fernee, v Fitzroy at Football Park, 28/7/96 (76)
|Club Champion top dozen|
|1: Matt Liptak 33|
2: Nigel Smart 32
3: Darren Jarman 31
4: Matthew Robran 31
5: Rod Jameson 25
6: Mark Ricciuto 21
7: David Pittman 20
8: Troy Bond 17
9: Mark Bickley 17
10: Ben Hart 15
11: Jason McCartney 13
12: Tony Modra 12
(5,4,3,2,1 by the match committee)
|75 Tony Modra|
46 Darren Jarman
30 Andrew Jarman
22 Matthew Robran
20 Andrew McLeod
17 Peter Caven
15 Matthew Liptak
14 Troy Bond
|Brownlow Medal votes|
|9 D. Jarman|
6 A. Jarman
5 Jameson, McGuinness
3 Bickley, Liptak
1 Koster, Modra, Smart
Tony Modra kicked eight goals and won the Fos Williams Medal as South Australia’s best in the State game win against WA.
The 1996 squad
Back row (from left): Ashley Fernee (45), Jason McCartney (8), Brett Chalmers (19), Matthew Robran (5), David Pittman (15), Jonathon Ross (39), Peter Caven (44), Shane Ellen (13), Sean Tasker (4), Scott Hodges (24). Third row: Nick Pesch (16), Greg Anderson (1), Matthew Connell (14), Simon Goodwin (36), Rod Jameson (35), Matthew Kluzek (31), Brent Williams (29), Kane Johnson (28), Matthew Collins (17), Mark Ricciuto (32), Simon Tregenza (12), Chris McDermott (10). Second row: Brendan Logan (25), Nick Pesch (16), Tyson Edwards (37), Kym Koster (9), Andrew McLeod (23), Mark Viska (49), Peter Vardy (30), Matthew Powell (20), Adam Ugrinic (22), Troy Bond (18), Wayne Weidemann (33). Front row: Tony Modra (6), Darren Jarman (3), Nigel Smart (7), Mark Bickley (26), Darel Hart (assistant coach), Robert Shaw (coach), Tony McGuinness (captain, 11), Shaun Rehn (52), Andrew Jarman (2), Matthew Liptak (27), Ben Hart (34). Absent: David Brown (21).
The gold numbers, now sublimated, were first outlined in white for the 1996 season, when the AFL celebrated its centenary. It was also the first season numbers were sublimated, not sewn on the back. For the first time the Crows wore a new jumper, featuring a Crow on the front, for trial games and the pre-season competition. It was first seen in the AFL’s Centenary Lightning Carnival at Waverley Park in February. This new guernsey was made of a lighter “Coolmax” fabric and the AFC Board selected a design created by the AFL.
The AFL Centenary badge on the front of Tony McGuinness’ jumper; Andrew Jarman; the first extra jumper worn by Adelaide, in the pre-season.