Games Won 14
Ladder Position 5
Premiership position: 5th in 16-team competition (14 wins, 10 losses). 6th at end of minor round (13 wins, 9 losses).
Coach: Gary Ayres
Captain: Mark Ricciuto
Adelaide was on target for another top four finish before three consecutive losses to finish the 2003 minor round made its finals itinerary more demanding.
Coach Gary Ayres guided the Crows to another top eight finish but they won two fewer games during the home and away season and lasted one week less in the finals than in 2002.
Adelaide was in second spot after round 19 but dropped to sixth after losses to Collingwood, the Kangaroos and Port Adelaide and had to play an elimination final before losing to eventual premiers Brisbane.
It was the year the Crows tried to solve its forward troubles by recruiting former Kangaroos champion Wayne Carey and Geelong goalsneak Ronnie Burns. Carey, who turned 32 during the season, had not played since 2001 but was thought to be worth the investment as the Crows chased greater finals success.
The premiership season fell away but Adelaide was able to celebrate the individual success of captain Mark Ricciuto, who became the first Crow to win a Brownlow Medal, won a second Club Champion award and was named in the All-Australian side for the sixth time.
The Brownlow Medal finished in a three-way tie, with Ricciuto, Collingwood’s Nathan Buckley and Sydney’s Adam Goodes all receiving 22 votes. Andrew McLeod was the early leader, polling six first preference votes in the first 13 rounds. But he stalled on 18 votes and Ricciuto received maximum votes in four of the six games from round 12. Goodes led by one vote with one round to count but Buckley and Ricciuto both picked up another single vote to join him on 22.
Adelaide started the year by winning the pre-season Wizard Home Loan Cup competition, defeating Port, West Coast and the Kangaroos before dominating Collingwood to win the grand final by 31 points at Telstra Dome (Docklands). McLeod won the Michael Tuck Medal as best afield.
Carey kicked four goals on debut in Adelaide’s 56-point opening round win over Fremantle, when Ben Hart celebrated his 250th AFL game. Torney also made a bright start to his Crows career with 28 possessions.
Adelaide collected two more wins in the next four rounds but after losing the Showdown, bounced back with an outstanding team performance in the much-hyped round six clash with the Kangaroos, when Carey faced his former team-mates and fans. His new team kept its focus to win by 54 points and Carey booted four goals.
Collingwood’s Chris Tarrant kicked a goal after the siren to hand the Magpies a five-point win in round seven. In round nine Adelaide trailed the Western Bulldogs by 22 points ten minutes into the last quarter but then kicked the next six goals but although the Crows then defeated Geelong at home for the second year in a row, they were ranked seventh after the five-point loss to Hawthorn at the MCG in round 11.
Adelaide then made its move, winning seven of the next eight games despite losing Carey to a knee injury after he collided with a goal post. The only loss in this time was to Fremantle, by one point at Subiaco Oval. Ben Rutten kicked three goals with his first three kicks in his AFL debut and the Crows led by 28 points early in the second term before the Dockers hit back.
Carey returned to kick five goals as Adelaide held on to defeat Sydney by three points in round 18 and the following week the Crows were back in Perth and became the first team to topple West Coast at home in the 2003 season.
But after losing to top-four challenger Collingwood the next week, a surprise ten-point loss at home against the Kangaroos followed by another Showdown loss against minor premiers Port relegated the Crows to sixth spot.
Some confidence returned in the elimination final against West Coast, the first final for the Crows at AAMI Stadium since 1997 and the Club’s 300th AFL premiership match. Adelaide was 26 points clear at half-time and kicked away in the second half to win by 56 points.
Mark Stevens kicked the first three goals for Adelaide to take an early break against Brisbane in the second semi-final at the Gabba. The home side lifted to lead by 17 points at half-time and although Adelaide regained the lead twice in the third quarter, Brisbane powered to a 42-point win with seven goals in the last quarter.
Ricciuto dominated the awards nights. In addition to winning the Brownlow Medal, Club Champion and earning All Australian selection, he claimed the club’s Best Team award, Past Players and Officials award and was voted MVP by Crows members.
Tyson Edwards was Club Champion runner-up for the second year in a row, McLeod came third and two-time premiership captain Mark Bickley was fourth in a strong finish to his 272-game AFL career. Fifth-placed Graham Johncock was the Leading Goalkicker with 30.
Carey missed eight games through injuries but still kicked 29 goals and finished eighth in the best-and-fairest. He showed his value in many games, including the first final against West Coast. Brett Burton finished sixth in the best-and-fairest despite missing a third of the season with an ankle injury.
- Long-serving Crows CEO Bill Sanders returned to the Club, this time as the member-elected Board director. He had retired as CEO at the end of 2001, after 11 years in the role.
- The Club opened its new Premiership Room at AAMI Stadium.
- Adelaide renovated the Crows Social Club on the western side of AAMI Stadium and the new venue was renamed the Crows Tavern.
- Season 2003 was a Testimonial Year for Nigel Smart, the last player remaining on the list from the club’s first game against Hawthorn in 1991.
- Smart and Ben Hart were the first Crows players to be awarded AFL Life Membership for reaching 300 games (including pre-season competition, International Rules series and State-of-Origin).
- Every home game sold out, with average crowds of 44,523.
Awards and Achievements
Brownlow Medal: Mark Ricciuto
All Australians: Mark Ricciuto
Best Team Man: Mark Ricciuto
Coach’s Award: Robert Shirley
Members MVP: Mark Ricciuto
Emerging Talent award: Brent Reilly
Leading goalkicker: Graham Johncock
Past Players and Officials Player of the Year: Mark Ricciuto
Michael Tuck Medal: Andrew McLeod
Showdown Medal: Graham Johncock (round five)
In: Wayne Carey (North Melbourne), Ronnie Burns (Geelong), James Begley (St Kilda/Sturt)), Jason Torney (Richmond), Luke Jericho (West Adelaide), Nathan Bock (elevated rookie), Ben Rutten (elevated rookie), Martin Mattner (elevated rookie). Rookies: Hayden Skipworth, Jason Porplyzia (West Adelaide), Michael Bratton (Norwood), Aiden Parker (Subiaco)
Out: Kane Johnson (Richmond), Bryan Beinke, Ryan Fitzgerald, Evan Hewitt, Matthew Shir, Michael Handby, Laurence Angwin, Ben Finnin (Geelong)
First game players
Wayne Carey, v Fremantle at AAMI Stadium, 30/3/03 (player debut order 131)
Jason Torney, v Fremantle at AAMI Stadium, 30/3/03 (132)
Trent Hentschel, v Sydney at the SCG, 13/4/03 (133)
Ronnie Burns, v West Coast Eagles at AAMI Stadium, 20/4/03 (134)
James Begley, v Brisbane at the Gabba, 17/5/03 (135)
Ben Rutten, v Fremantle at Subiaco, 20/7/03 (136)
Jacob Schuback, v Collingwood at Telstra Dome, 15/8/03 (137)
|Club Champion top dozen|
|1: Mark Ricciuto 159 votes|
2: Tyson Edwards 137
3: Andrew McLeod 117
4: Mark Bickley 116
5: Graham Johncock 106
6: Brett Burton 104
7: Ken McGregor 95
8: Wayne Carey 92
= Tyson Stenglein 92
10: Matthew Clarke 86
11: Nigel Smart 85
12: Nathan Bassett 80
(4,3,2,1 by each of the four coaches)
|30 Graham Johncock|
29 Wayne Carey
29 Andrew McLeod
26 Ian Perrie
23 Ronnie Burns
23 Brett Burton
20 Chris Ladhams
19 Tyson Edwards
|Brownlow Medal votes|
|22 Ricciuto (winner)|
2 Torney, Edwards, Smart, Bassett, Stevens
1 Burns, Hart
The 2003 squad
Back row (from left): Kris Massie (3), Nathan Bassett (8), Nigel Smart (7), Tyson Stenglein (20), Daniel Schell (27), Trent Hentschel (37), Andrew Crowell (1), Luke Jericho (30), Jason Torney (15), Ben Nelson (6), Brett Burton (24). Third row: Martin Mattner (39), Ben Rutten (25), Ian Perrie (22), Mark Stevens (19), Rhett Biglands (35), Ben Marsh (31), Matthew Clarke (4), Ken McGregor (16), Nathan Bock (44), Wayne Carey (2), Matthew Smith (13), Robert Shirley (12). Second row: Neil Craig (assistant coach), Darren Jarman (assistant), Tyson Edwards (9), Simon Goodwin (36), Mark Ricciuto (32, captain), Gary Ayres (senior coach), Ben Hart (34), Andrew McLeod (23), Mark Bickley (26), Peter Curran (assistant coach), Mark Mickan (assistant coach). Front row: Ronnie Burns (5), Scott Welsh (17), James Begley (28), Chris Ladhams (40), Jacob Schuback (38), Brent Reilly (33), Michael Doughty (11), Graham Johncock (18), Matthew Bode (10), James Gallagher (21).
The arrival of Russell Athletic led to another change of neckline style in 2003.
Jason Torney, Simon Goodwin and Graham Johncock; long-sleeved home; away and Mark Ricciuto in the away jumper.