The Origin of the Crows
Natus Ad Magna Gerenda. Born to do great things. Adelaide’s early motto was a sign of a club ready to fly high from day one. The Club’s origins can be traced as far back as June 1981 when a special meeting of the SANFL’s League Directors voted unanimously to support an application for the inclusion of an SANFL team into the VFL in 1982.
An SANFL delegation comprising president Max Basheer, vice-president Robert (Bob) Lee, director John Swain (Director) and general manager Don Roach presented the application to a full meeting of the VFL in July 1981.
Importantly, even at this very initial stage, firm guidelines were set and the decision embraced the basic principles that:
- The team be corporately owned and managed by the SANFL.
- It be known as the Adelaide Football Club
- It be a composite team of players selected from the member clubs of the SANFL
- Football Park be its home ground, and it establish playing, training and administrative headquarters at that venue.
One month later the VFL advised the application had not been approved, and while discussions and negotiations continued between the two state organisations the years passed without the formation of an Adelaide VFL team.
On May 21st, 1986, the SANFL formed a company, Adelaide Football Club Incorporated, with all issued shares owned by the league. No local team entered the VFL, however. In 1990 the VFL then changed to the Australian Football League to better reflect its national reach. At the same time the SANFL clubs decided not to enter a team into the AFL until 1993. In a dramatic twist, the Port Adelaide Magpies reached an agreement with the AFL to enter the league in 1991.
The other nine clubs reacted strongly, noticing the AFL offered more favourable terms and conditions to the Port Adelaide than had been offered to the SANFL’s composite team previously. The nine clubs entered into litigation, were able to successfully halt Port’s bid and subsequently applied to the AFL for the admission of the Adelaide Football Club. At the AFL meeting on the 19th September 1990, the directors voted in favour of the Adelaide Football Club application
The Head Licence between the SANFL and AFL was signed on 11th October 1990 which provided for the SANFL to pay $1.0 Million Dollars up front to the AFL and for the Adelaide Football Club to pay a further $3.0 Million over 10 years in Licence Fees as Sub-Licensor. Subsequently on February 13th 1991 a Sub-Licence Agreement between the SANFL, AFL and AFC was signed.
The challenge was now how in the world could a new club be created and ready to play its first official Fosters Cup game in 121 days time.
The Adelaide Football Club was well and truly alive! Even before a formal agreement had been signed wheels had begun to turn. The SANFL moved immediately to protect and secure playing strength for the new club. South Australian football legends Bob Hammond and Neil Kerley were co-opted to work with SANFL administration manager Murray Tippet to identify, commit to, and contract required players.
On 12th October, the day following the signing of the Head License, those who were to be tasked with making it happen were identified and commissioned. At a meeting of the SANFL Directors elected the inaugural board which was to act in an interim capacity until such time a permanent board could be elected at the Annual General Meeting of the SANFL to be held on 15th February 1991. It was made up of Max Basheer, SAFNL President (Chairman), Rick Allert, Prominent Chartered Accountant and Company Director, Ed Betro, Glenelg Vice-President and Prominent Businessman, Robert (Bob) Hammond, SANFL Football Player Legend and Coach and Businessman, Robert (Bob) Lee, SANFL Vice-President, Adrian Sutter, Former SANFL Player and Respected Company Administrator and Leigh Whicker, General Manager SANFL. It took responsibility for setting the structure of the club, for negotiating agreements, for launching the club and for all the planning and activity associated with the running of the club
Adelaide’s inaugural board had been elected on an interim basis, and last met on 20th February, 1991 and a permanent board was elected on February 25, 1991. They met for the first time the next day, just one month before Adelaide played its first AFL regular season game, but already having played three official pre season games. The Interim Board had done its job.
WHAT FOLLOWS DESCRIBES HOW IT WAS DONE
THE FIRST MEETING AGENDA – THE TASK AHEAD
Max Basheer appointed unopposed.
2 Player List
Mr R Hammond presented a comprehensive report in securing the services of the ten drafted SANFL players and tabled a schedule of proposed player payments for season 1991
3 Player Insurance
Mr E Betro tabled a proposal for Player Personal Accident Insurance
4 Formation of the Club
- Club Name – Adelaide Football Club Inc.
- Club Colours, Jumpers, socks and shorts
Generally agreed that the basic colours in the playing uniform would consist of: Green, White and Blue
Mr Betro to arrange for a number of samples to be made for presentation later in the day.
(c) Club Emblem
It was agreed that the “Sharks” form the basis for the Club Logo
5 Administration – Job Specification & Duties (Slide 6)
- AFC General Manager
Job advertised Nationally Saturday 13th October1990
- Marketing Manager
- Football Manager
- Finance Manager
- Senior Coach
After lengthy discussion it was agreed to approach Messrs G Cornes and J Cahill for an expression of interest. The coaching interviews would take place before the full board.
6 Sub- Committees
Board Agreed following sub-committee should be established as soon as possible
Marketing – Sponsorship
7 Adelaide Football Club Membership
Mr Betro outlined a proposal to target maximum membership for the Adelaide Football Club (40,000 including 11500 Football Park Members)
8 Player Retention Fund
Mr L Whicker advised that the SANFL was seeking legal and taxation advice in respect to the eventual winding up of the fund.
THE FIRST KEY APPOINTMENTS MADE BY THE INTERIM BOARD
KEY FOOTBALL SUPPORT STAFF APPOINTMENTS
THE NEW CLUB’S IDENTITY IS DECIDED UPON BY THE INTERIM BOARD
In 1990 a new team was admitted into the AFL – the Adelaide Football Club. It had no logo, emblem, colours or jumper. One of the first tasks of the interim board was to decide on these. Many suggestions and designs were put forward. Sharks, Rams, Giants and Falcons were proposed but were not available because of copy right restrictions before it was agreed that as South Australians were historically referred to as “Crow Eaters” it would be appropriate to for the team to be called the Crows. The playing jumper evolved from an esoteric design of blue, green and white jumper representing South Australia’s coastline separating the land and the sea. About to try to bring together a disparate group of players from various clubs and states it was clear that not only the design didn’t give an impression of strength but it would not work as a rallying object as in “do it for the jumper!” It was important that colours and pattern meant something that the players, the club, the fans could identify with, own and be proud of. Hence the board determined that, as the team was going to be the inaugural South Australian team in the competition, it should rightly wear the state’s colours and hence red, navy and gold were claimed and used to produce an appropriate “football jumper”. And design? Traditionally football jumpers have comprised variations of stripes, hoops or sashes. Adelaide opted for broad hoops. The crest was created to include the state colours and emblem and as was born with great expectations the motto became Natus Ad Magna Gerenda – Born to Do Great Things
THE TEAM GETS A HOME
In line with the urgency to hire Senior Management was the requirement to establish the necessary Club accommodation and therefore one of the first commitments of the Administration Sub-committee was to find a home for the “Crows” as the SANFL could offer no accommodation at Football Park.
ATCO Structures a company supplying transportable accommodation to the mining and oil exploration companies were approached and able to supply at short notice a building that would help out in the short term. On inspection the building was found to be in a rather dilapidated condition with broken windows, spider infested and dust an inch thick on the floors and shelving. There was no other option but to take it. The purchase price erected on site was $46,119. (Two years later after moving into better accommodation supplied by the SANFL the building was sold back to ATCO for $21,000.) The order for the building was approved by the Board on 14th November 1990 and was erected on site by Friday 30th November 1990. Quite an amazing feat considering that council approval had to be received in that period and all services connected.
It was one thing to have a building but there was a multitude of significant practical requirements still to be met to enable the Club to function. The Club started with nothing – no pens, pencils desks, chairs or telephones. Office furniture and equipment had to be purchased or hired from local suppliers with requests for immediate delivery.
At the same time as providing Club accommodation the Board had to assess, and where possible meet, the demands to provide the training facilities and equipment required to prepare players for AFL football. On the 21st December 1990 and only three weeks after completing the accommodation building a new gymnasium and a locker room for players and staff had been built under the stand on the western side of the oval at a cost of $42,189.
The Club had limited funds and costs were closely monitored by the Board for these two projects. All furniture, fittings and equipment were of a very basic standard and were all purchased with a view to keeping costs to a minimum.
A major income stream for any AFL Club is from sponsorship and therefore it was critical that the Adelaide Football Club attract a major sponsor that was compatible with the objectives of the Club and would be around for a reasonable period of time and could deliver financially. So fortunate was the Adelaide Football Club that the Toyota Motor Corporation was looking for a vehicle to promote its new Camry passenger car in South Australia.
Negotiations had begun in earnest in mid December 1990 when representatives from the Marketing Committee, Ed Betro, Mark Colley and Roger Lloyd travelled to Sydney to present a three year $1.5 million per year (CPI Indexed) sponsorship proposal to Toyota.
On 21st December 1990 Toyota confirmed their offer negotiated at the Sydney meeting and by mid-January 1991 an agreement was reached by both parties on some finer details and the sponsorship was launched on 30th January1991. The sponsorship at that time was one of the largest ever signed by any team in the AFL.
The Adelaide Football Club has enjoyed other long term sponsorships commencing in 1991 including Foodland, Farmers Union (National Foods), Coca Cola, Gerrard Corporation and Hardy Wines.
THE ORIGINAL ADELAIDE FOOTBALL CLUB BUDGET
Being a brand new Football Club with no history, budgets for season 1991 were difficult to predict and many hours were taken to gain information from existing AFL Clubs and the SANFL.
The first Draft Budget submitted to the Board by the General Manager showed an Operating Surplus of $59,000. The Board on 23rd January 1991 for season 1991 approved a revised Budget with a deficit balance of $47,000.
1991 DRAFT BUDGET SUMMARY
Less: Administration Expenditure (768,000)
Football Expenditure (3,032,000)
Less: Capital Expenditure (150,000)
SANFL Distribution (400,000)
Net Balance $ 59,000 Surplus
Major Expenditure Items were:
- Player Payments $1,500,000
- Player Transfer Fees to local Clubs $ 375,000
- Player Clearance Fees $ 200,000
- Coaches and Trainers Fees $ 154,000
- Administration Salaries $ 288,000
- Ground Facilities $ 46,000
Major Income Items were:
- Football Park Season Tickets & Membership $1,695,000
- AFL Distribution $1,050,000
- Corporate Sponsorship $ 750,000
- Fundraising $ 650,000
THE 1991 ANNUAL REPORT SHOWED AN OPERATING SURPLUS OF $395,005 FOR THE FIRST YEAR.
SOME OTHER MAJOR ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
- Player Interchange Agreement
Because the Adelaide Football Club Players would play for the local SANFL Clubs when not required by the AFC a set of rules had to be determined and agreed between the AFC and SANFL. Such rules would cover Player Eligibility, Player Transfer Fees, Player Payments, Etc. It was a complex and at times vexatious issue requiring time and effort to resolve many concerns with some Clubs because some Club Coaches resisted the AFC taking control of their players.
- Player Insurance
The introduction of an AFL team meant that most players would now become professional footballers and football their principal trade. It also meant that players could be under the control of the AFC or their local Club at various times. Insuring the players and especially the senior players against injury or accidents was of paramount importance. Insurance companies found it difficult to determine the risks and to set realistic premiums. WorkCover became involved and discussions highlighted the complications in covering professional sportspersons because of the nature of their various contracts, the difficulty in establishing average weekly earnings, and limitation under the Act on the amount paid by way of weekly payments of income maintenance. It became necessary for the Club to retain the services of an Insurance Consultant and finally it was determined that WorkCover legislation was inappropriate for sporting bodies like the Adelaide Football Club. After a number of meeting with WorkCover, the Workcover Board approved the exclusion of sporting bodies from WorkCover Legislation in South Australia thereby allowing the Adelaide Football Club to make its own arrangements.
THE FIRST TRAINING RUN
A training squad had been identified and was being recruited by Messrs Hammond, Kerley and Tippett. It was paramount that this squad hit the training track as soon as possible. It was agreed by the Board that as an interim measure, Murray Tippet, General Manager, Football Operations of the SANFL, would coordinate all matters relating to team training that would commence on Monday, 29th October 1990. It was further agreed that as an interim measure the 1990 SANFL State Team support personnel be co-opted to provide support at the training sessions until the Club could recruit its own personnel.
Sixty six players attended the first training run at Max Basheer Reserve on 29th October 1990. In an attempt to look professional the players wore
yellow tank tops and blue shorts sourced from Rowe and Jarman’s sports store and all had a different assortment of runners. As training
commenced and in all the excitement it was soon noticed that someone forgot to bring along any footballs so these had to be borrowed from the
SANFL junior development squad.
It was obvious from this assembly that much was needed to build up the physiques of the players to match their interstate counterparts so there
were many challenges to confront the players in the weeks ahead.
THE FIRST SQUAD
THE FIRST EVER GAME OF THE ADELAIDE FOOTBALL CLUB