Games Won 7
Ladder Position 14
Premiership position: 14th in 17-team competition (7 wins, 15 losses)
Coach: Neil Craig rounds 1-18, Mark Bickley rounds 19-24
Captain: Nathan van Berlo
After Adelaide started the season in impressive fashion with a rousing win over Hawthorn, it’s hard to believe the 2011 season turned out the way it did.
The round one victory on a night marking the 20-year anniversary of Adelaide’s first-ever game against the Hawks in 1991 was not only a celebration of the Crows’ proud history, but confirmation of a bright future in the post-Goodwin, McLeod, Edwards and Burton era.
Or so it seemed.
Unfortunately, the season-opener in front of a vocal home crowd was one of few highlights in 2011 as the Crows stuttered to their worst year in 21 seasons, finishing 14th with seven wins from 22 matches.
Almost immediately after the Hawthorn game, the season started to unravel. Scans confirmed star forward Jason Porplyzia (shoulder), wingman David Mackay (shoulder) and promising midfielder Rory Sloane (fractured jaw and thumb) would spend significant time on the sidelines and inconsistent form started to spread throughout the team.
Adelaide’s depleted stocks took a further hit in the off-season when 2009 Club Champion Nathan Bock signed with expansion club Gold Coast. Then young defender Phil Davis badly injured a shoulder in round three and leadership group member Scott Stevens retired mid-season after continuing to suffer from post-concussion syndrome. He had played 119 games for the Crows.
Wins against St Kilda and newcomers Gold Coast rekindled hope of a mid-season resurgence, but a run of six straight losses put an end to that.
A hard-fought victory over the Sydney Swans in round 15 was overshadowed by a disappointing fade-out against Essendon the next week, and after a hefty 103-point loss to St Kilda in round 18 the club’s longest-serving coach Neil Craig announced his resignation.
Craig had taken over the Crows midway through the 2004 season and quickly turned them into a dangerous challenger, reaching preliminary finals in 2005-06 and the finals in the following three seasons. After 166 games in charge, he finished with 92 wins and 74 losses.
As so often happens, the change in coach triggered a response from the players.
They reacted by beating cross-town rivals Port Adelaide by 32 points in an emotion-charged Showdown the next week and maintained their improved form, winning three of the next four games under interim coach Mark Bickley before dropping the last two games against Richmond and West Coast.
In that time, the club unearthed an instant fan favourite in Wollongong product Aidan Riley and a potential key defender in Shaun McKernan, who was shifted to the backline in the latter part of the season.
Riley’s debut followed impressive first games from 28-year-old recruit Ian Callinan, first-round draft picks Brodie Smith and Daniel Talia, defender Luke Thompson and ready-made forward Matt Wright.
Callinan, originally from Tasmania, slipped through the AFL’s recruiting net until Adelaide rookie-listed him for the 2011 season. His career had seen him win the 2005 J.J. Liston Trophy for the Tasmanian Devils in the VFL, before he joined Central District and won two best and fairest awards in SA. He also played in four consecutive SANFL premierships with the Bulldogs. In Round 14, he finally made his AFL debut, collecting 21 touches and one goal against Geelong.
Another positive to emerge was the improvement of inexperienced players Jared Petrenko, Matt Jaensch and Sam Jacobs and the late-season form of first-year captain Nathan van Berlo and skilful pair Bernie Vince and Taylor Walker.
Standing out above all was Scott Thompson, rewarded for a career-best season with his first Club Champion award. He finished well ahead of runner-up van Berlo and equal third-placed Ben Rutten and Graham Johncock, who became the tenth footballer to play 200 AFL games for the Crows.
Michael Doughty was named Best Team Man, after becoming the first Crows rookie to play 200 AFL games.
- One of the Adelaide Football Club’s greatest players, Mark Ricciuto, was inducted to the Australian Football Hall of Fame.
- Richard Douglas and Bernie Vince represented Australia in the International Series against Ireland in Melbourne and Gold Coast Tests.
Awards and Achievements
Best Team Man: Michael Doughty
Mark Bickley Award: Daniel Talia
19th Man Award: Scott Thompson
Leading goalkicker: Taylor Walker
Emerging Talent: Matthew Jaensch
Club Coach’s Award: Scott Thompson
Showdown Medal (round 19): Nathan van Berlo
In: Richard Tambling (Richmond), Sam Jacobs (Carlton), Brodie Smith (Woodville-West Torrens), Jarryd Lyons (Sandringham U18). Rookies: Tim Milera (Port Magpies), Jake von Bertouch (Woodville-West Torrens), Lachlan Roach (North Adelaide), Ian Callinan (Central District), Sam Martyn (NSW Scholarship rookie).
Out: Jonathon Griffin (Fremantle), Nathan Bock (Gold Coast), Tyson Edwards, Andrew McLeod, Brett Burton, Simon Goodwin, Trent Hentschel, Jarrhan Jacky, Brian Donnelly (rookie).
First game players
Brodie Smith, v Hawthorn at AAMI Stadium, 26/3/11 (Player debut no 176)
Richard Tambling, v Hawthorn at AAMI Stadium, 26/3/11 (177)
Luke Thompson, v Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium, 16/4/11 (178)
Matthew Wright, v Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium, 16/4/11 (179)
Sam Jacobs, v Carlton at Etihad Stadium, 23/4/11 (180)
Ian Callinan, v Geelong at Geelong, 26/6/11 (181)
Daniel Talia, v Sydney at AAMI Stadium, 2/7/11 (182)
Aidan Riley, v Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium, 31/7/11 (183)
|Club Champion top dozen|
|1: Scott Thompson 83 votes|
2: Nathan van Berlo 50
3: Graham Johncock 38
= Ben Rutten 38
5: Patrick Dangerfield 35
6: Rory Sloane 34
7: Bernie Vince 33
8: Sam Jacobs 31
9: Brent Reilly 28
10: Kurt Tippett 25
11: Michael Doughty 23
= Jared Petrenko 23
(Coaching group allocated votes from 0-8 for each player)
|32 Taylor Walker|
31 Kurt Tippett
23 Patrick Dangerfield
30 Jason Porplyzia
19 Jack Gunston
18 Matthew Wright
12 Nathan van Berlo
12 Ricky Henderson
|Brownlow Medal votes|
|12 S. Thompson|
9 van Berlo
Ray Titus photo gallery
2011 Board, back row from left: Peter Hurley, Bob Foord, Greg Moulton, Deb Miller, Jim Hazel, Andrew Payze, John Sutton. Front: Steven Trigg (CEO), Rob Chapman (chairman), Nigel Smart.
The 2011 squad
Back row (from left): Rory Sloane (9), Sam Shaw (34), Jake von Bertouch (rookie, 44)), Jack Gunston (6), James Craig (30), Luke Thompson (28), Andy Otten (22), Will Young (39), Taylor Walker (13), Brad Symes (15), Ricky Henderson (45), Daniel Talia (12). Third row: Mark Bickley (assistant coach), Matthew Clarke (assistant coach), Chris Knights (21), Tony Armstrong (38), Bernie Vince (17), Phil Davis (16), James Sellar (29), Sam Jacobs (24), Ivan Maric (20), Kurt Tippett (4), Brad Moran (2), Shaun McKernan (35), Patrick Dangerfield (32), Myke Cook (8), Richard Douglas (26), Ben Hart (assistant coach), Scott Camporeale (assistant coach). Second row: Richard Tambling (1), Brent Reilly (3), Jason Porplyzia (40), Scott Stevens (27), Ben Rutten (25), Nathan van Berlo (captain), Neil Craig (senior coach), Scott Thompson (5), Michael Doughty (11), David Mackay (14), Jared Petrenko (23), Brodie Martin (36), Graham Johncock (18) Front row: Matthew Jaensch (10), Ian Callinan (rookie, 37), Jarryd Lyons (31), Lachlan Roach (rookie, 42)), Sam Martyn (rookie, 41)), Brodie Smith (33), Tim Milera (rookie, 48)), Aidan Riley (rookie, 43)), Chris Schmidt (rookie, 46)), Matthew Wright (rookie, 47).
Adelaide celebrated the 20th year anniversary of the Club’s first AFL game against Hawthorn, wearing a jumper with the names of the first team from the 1991 season-opener. The jumper also featured the club’s 20 Year logo and the original style Camry sponsor patch, with no logo on the back.
Chris Knights, Richard Douglas and Ian Callinan in the 2011 home jumper; front and back (Brent Reilly) of the anniversary jumper for round one; round one guernsey; Brad Symes in the clash jumper.