Adelaide’s first premiership will perhaps always stand as the Club’s greatest triumph, six seasons after the Club was formed.
Some would call the start of the season sluggish for Adelaide; two wins in six games had them behind the eight ball. That changed as the Crows won five in a row to hit second on the ladder with wins over bottom-half foes.
Quality scalps were needed, however, to really establish legitimacy and when the Crows beat West Coast and St Kilda in Rounds 14 and 15, they had them. With help from the 75-point win over the Eagles, and then a 137-point smashing of Richmond, Adelaide’s percentage enjoyed a huge boost.
By Round 19, Adelaide had hit first place following a Showdown victory. The success at the top was short lived and two losses forced the Club to settle for fourth.
During the 1990s, the AFL used the McIntyre Finals system where the top eight all played in qualifying finals in week one and Adelaide hosted West Coast in a battle of fourth v fifth.
In today’s game the Crows would have played minor premiers St Kilda with a victory securing a second week bye – but under that format 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 the 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.
THE GRAND FINAL
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 who suffered late season injuries. Modra tore his ACL 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.
The 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 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
Andrew McLeod did the rare double – a Club Champion Award and Norm Smith Medal. Interestingly, he barely featured in the Brownlow Medal count, picking up one lone vote. Adelaide’s best were Mark Ricciuto and Darren Jarman with 18 and 13 votes, respectively.
All-Australian honours went to Ricciuto and Coleman Medallist Tony Modra, who booted 84 goals.