Games Won 16
Ladder Position 4
Premiership position: 4th in 16-team competition (16 wins, 9 losses). 3rd at end of minor round (15 wins, 7 losses).
Coach: Gary Ayres
Captain: Mark Ricciuto
Adelaide’s rise under coach Gary Ayres continued in 2002 with a club record 15 minor round wins before the season ended in a preliminary final loss.
But most of the experienced stars stayed healthy and a strong start to the premiership season – after winning three pre-season games to the reach the Wizard Cup semi-finals – helped the Crows stay inside the top four for most of the year.
Adelaide recruited South Australian forwards Ryan Fitzgerald (from Sydney) and Daniel Schell (from Fremantle) and also added former Sturt midfielder Ben Nelson and Kris Massie (both from Carlton) to the squad. Fitzgerald, who kicked five goals on debut for Sydney in 2000 but was held back by shoulder and knee injuries, kicked four goals against his former club in round three but needed another knee reconstruction after just eight games for the Crows.
Adelaide fell behind the Western Bulldogs in the second term in the opening game at Colonial Stadium but steadied to win by 19 points and then accounted for Geelong and Sydney before a big loss to Essendon. Port recovered from a 22-point deficit at half-time to win the round five Showdown.
After 11 rounds Adelaide was one of four teams with eight wins. Three consecutive losses sent it tumbling to eighth but a home win over St Kilda kicked off a five-game winning streak that included rare success over Geelong at Kardinia Park. Mark Ricciuto kicked five goals, including the last three goals of the match, in the thrilling three-point win.
Another narrow Showdown loss down helped Port move towards the minor premiership, while Mark Bickley was suspended for five games, ending his season.
But the Crows won the last two rounds to secure third spot, learning from the previous end-of-season failure and crushing Fremantle in Perth in round 21.
A daunting trip to Brisbane ended in a 71-point thumping in a sign of what was to come for the Lions. Adelaide kicked the first goal of the second qualifying final but Brisbane booted 13 of the next 14 goals to take command.
Adelaide then faced Melbourne but was denied a home semi-final to meet a contractual obligation by the AFL to play at least four finals each year at the MCG.
In an extraordinary contest, Adelaide led by 40 points at the first break, 17 points at half-time, and then trailed by 27 a couple of minutes before three-quarter time. The Crows then kicked six answered goals, and after Melbourne cut the gap to two points, Brett Burton’s late goal was enough for the Crows to advance. Nigel Smart became the first player to play 250 games with the Adelaide Football Club.
Adelaide returned to the MCG for the preliminary final against Collingwood, which upset Port in the first week of the finals. The Crows led by 17 points during the second term and by six points at half-time but lost Tyson Edwards (concussion and broken nose) and then Andrew McLeod (ankle).
Collingwood’s burst of five consecutive goals gave it a 25-point lead at the last change and although Adelaide kicked the first two goals of the final term, the Magpies responded to win by 28. They moved on to the grand final, where Brisbane made history with a third consecutive premiership.
Defender Ben Hart won his second Club Champion Award and earned his fourth All-Australian selection in a dominant year across half-back. His All-Australian nod came a decade after his first selection. He was the only player in the AFL to be on the field for every minute of every game during the season. Captain Ricciuto joined Hart in the AA team.
Edwards was Club Champion runner-up ahead of Best Team Man Tyson Stenglein and Mark Stevens, who tied for third place. Matthew Bode played every game in his second season with the Crows after just one appearance in 2001 and Brett Burton also enjoyed an injury-free run to finish as the club’s leading goalkicker with 51. Scott Welsh led the way with 26 goals in the first ten rounds before succumbing to osteitis pubis.
Graham Johncock burst on to the AFL scene in his second season, playing every game as a small forward or defender, and Rhett Biglands and Matthew Clarke formed a formidable ruck pair.
- Retired premiership hero Darren Jarman returned to the club as an assistant to the coaches, specialising in goalkicking.
- Adelaide played pre-season trials against SANFL clubs Central District and Norwood at The Parade, the day raising $18,000 for the NSW Bushfires Appeal.
- High draft pick Laurence Angwin remained on the list in 2002 but went home to Victoria in January after a tumultuous first 12 months with the Crows.
- Adelaide honoured premiership captain Mark Bickley with a Testimonial Year. Bickley was a late addition to Australian squad for the International Series tour to Ireland but broke his leg in the Second Test. Edwards was also added to the tour squad.
- Football Park was renamed AAMI Stadium in July after the SANFL secured naming rights sponsorship.
- In August, North Melbourne champion Wayne Carey announced his intention to play for the Crows from 2003.
- Bob Marshall, the club’s doorman from 1991-95, was among 88 Australians killed in the Bali bombings on October 12. The 68-year-old official was travelling with his SANFL club Sturt on their end-of-season trip. Past Crows player Jason McCartney was also caught in the bombings. He suffered severe burns and almost died during surgery.
Awards and Achievements
All Australians: Ben Hart, Mark Ricciuto
Best Team Man: Mark Stevens
Coach’s Award: Tyson Stenglein
Members’ MVP: Tyson Edwards
Emerging Talent award: Graham Johncock
Leading goalkicker: Brett Burton
Past Players and Officials Player of the Year: Matthew Bode
In: Ryan Fitzgerald (Sydney), Kris Massie (Carlton), Ben Nelson (Carlton), Daniel Schell (Fremantle), Trent Hentschel (Woodville-West Torrens), Ben Finnin (Northern U18), Brent Reilly (Calder U18), Jacob Schuback (Gippsland U18). Rookies: Nathan Bock (Woodville-West Torrens), Paul Thomas (Central District), Ben Rutten (West Adelaide), Martin Mattner (Sturt).
First game players
Ryan Fitzgerald, v Western Bulldogs at Colonial Stadium (Melb), 31/3/02 (player debut order 124)
Graham Johncock, v Western Bulldogs at Colonial Stadium, 31/3/02 (125)
Ben Nelson, v Western Bulldogs at Colonial Stadium, 31/3/02 (126)
Daniel Schell, v Western Bulldogs at Colonial Stadium, 31/3/02 (127)
Kris Massie, v Port Adelaide at Football Park, 27/4/02 (128)
Martin Mattner, v Collingwood at Football Park, 7/7/02 (129)
Brent Reilly, v St Kilda at Football Park, 13/7/02 (130)
|Club Champion top dozen|
|1: Ben Hart 162 votes|
2: Tyson Edwards 146
3: Tyson Stenglein 135
= Mark Stevens 135
5: Simon Goodwin 123
6: Andrew McLeod 119
= Nigel Smart 119
= Kane Johnson 119
9: Mark Bickley 118
10: Matthew Bode 105
11: Ken McGregor 103
12: Mark Ricciuto 102
(4,3,2,1 by each of the four coaches)
|51 Brett Burton|
38 Mark Stevens
35 Mark Ricciuto
29 Scott Welsh
25 Andrew McLeod
23 Matthew Bode
17 Simon Goodwin
|Brownlow Medal votes|
3 Biglands, Bickley, Gallagher
2 Burton, Bassett, Stenglein, Smart
The 2002 squad
Back row (from left): Ken McGregor (16), Trent Hentschel (37), Matthew Smith (13), Ryan Fitzgerald (15), Ben Marsh (31), Matthew Clarke (4), Rhett Biglands (35), Evan Hewitt (2), Ian Perrie (22), Daniel Schell (27). Third row: Mark Stevens (19), Scott Welsh (17), Bryan Beinke (25), Nigel Smart (7), Michael Handby (29), Ben Finnin (30), Tyson Stenglein (20), Nathan Bassett (8), Andrew Crowell (1), Kris Massie (3), Kane Johnson (28), Brett Burton (24), Hayden Skipworth (14). Second row: James Gallagher (21), Matthew Bode (10), Chris Ladhams (40), Tyson Edwards (9), Michael Doughty (11), Brent Reilly (33), Robert Shirley (12), Mark Bickley (26), Jacob Schuback (38), Graham Johncock (18). Front row: Darren Jarman (assistant to coaching panel), Neil Craig (assistant coach), Ben Nelson (6), Simon Goodwin (36), Mark Ricciuto (captain), Gary Ayres (senior coach), Ben Hart (34), Andrew McLeod (23), Matthew Shir (5), Mark Mickan (assistant coach), Peter Curran (assistant coach).
The numbers on the away guernsey were changed to solid, with no outline. But the 2001 version made an appearance against Geelong in round 17 after a baggage mistake! The main jumper was worn in all three finals.
Brett Burton and Simon Goodwin in 2002; Tyson Stenglein and Kane Johnson; Michael Doughty (away), new number style on the away; Bryan Beinke.