The Power of Denial
Adelaide has always craved respectability but has always struggled to attain it. It was founded in 1836 to be Australia's only Convict free colony. Despite being founded on noble ideas, most migrants chose to be around ex-Cons and their colourful personalities rather than take up the generous land offers available around Adelaide. Perhaps this was because a a city that trumpets that it is free of Convict heritage as its claim to fame is basically saying it has nothing going on.
On the positive side, Adelaide embraced the Australian game and football subsequently became an escape from an otherwise dreary life in Australia's Convict free state. The SANFL began in 1877 and subsequently grew into a strong and fanatically supported league. In interstate matches against Victorians, South Australians frequently emerged as victors, which perhaps gavethe South Australians some of the status they so desperately wanted. With predominantly dry grounds, the South Australian's brand of football had more emphasis on skills. On the other hand, the Victorian brand was built on wet grounds, which led to more dirty play.
In the 1970s, football representatives from around Australia met to discuss the possibility of a national competition. Victorians insisted that their league, the VFL, was the strongest and rather than create a new competition, new clubs would have to join the VFL and pay a licence fee. Quite understandably, football fans outside Victoria were not enthused by the Victorian arrogance and declined.
In 1991, Port Adelaide, the most loathed but also most popular team in the SANFL, defected by making an application to join the VFL/AFL. Although the VFL/AFL was pleased that a South Australian team wanted to join, they were concerned that Port's entry would alienate the majority of South Australian football supporters who hated Port. Consequently, they gave the SANFL the option of fielding a composite team and if they declined, Port would be free to join. Knowing that Port Adelaide was hoping they would reject the offer, the SANFL accepted.
South Australia's new team seemed to make a concerted effort to piss-off Port Adelaide supporters. Their guernsey featured the state's colours, as well as the colours of every SANFL team - with the exception of Port. The name Crows were chosen because Port Adelaide had wanted to use it when it entered the VFL/AFL. The Crows appealed to everyone who liked football, hated Victorians and most importantly, hated Port Adelaide. Obviously such people were numerous as the club had no difficulty in selling out its home ground with membership tickets.
Not only did Adelaide take Port's place, they even chose the moniker that Port had been planning to use.
Just as the Crows pissed off Port, Adelaide fans soon pissed off Victorians. When Victorian teams kicked a goal at the Crows' home ground, the crowd responded with deathly silence. For Victorians, this was a sign of South Australians being unable to give Victorians the respect they deserve. Of course for South Australians, Victorian whinging added to the appeal of the Crows' games. It gave South Australians the opportunity to show Victorians what the rest of Australia really thought of them.
Although off-field popularity was easy to come by, on-field success was more elusive. The Crows proved to be world beaters at home when they had a crowd cheering them, but on the road they proved to be flops!
Ironically the Crow's fortunes soared when Port gained admittance to the AFL in 1997. When Port entered, they had a score to settle with the team that took "their place." Prior to the first "showdown", Malcolm Blight, the Crow's coach, declared that life in Adelaide would be intolerable if Port emerged triumphant. The Crows were heavily favoured but the unthinkable happened and Port won by 11 points.
Severely embarrassed, the defeat was a kick in the arse that spurred to the club onto greater heights. The club subsequently won their first premiership that very year. In 1998 they had continued success, sneaking into their second grand final against North Melbourne, then winning from fifth position, a feat never before accomplished. It was almost as if the desire not to let Port gain the ascendency had driven the Crows to lofty heights.
Although the showdowns have been evenly split, the two premierships gives Adelaide the best record where it matters most. This little historical fact perhaps best encapsulates the club's appeal. After almost 127 years of listening to Port fans boast about their superiority, Adelaide's record allows fans to turn the table and put Port into second place. With two flags to Port's one, those who hate Port at last have something to crow about.
As for gaining the respect of the nation, and even its own players, Adelaide has continued to struggle. Specifically, it has struggled with convincing Adelaide-raised players drafted to interstate clubs to return to Adelaide. Of even more concern, it has struggled to keep interstate players drafted to the club once their contracts were completed. In a particularly damaging example, it paid one player, Kurt Tippet, outside of the salary cap because it was so desperate for him to stay. Ironically, the club had room in the salary cap but it was paying Tippet so much above his value that Adelaide wanted to keep it a secret. As punishment, the club was fined and excluded from early rounds of the draft.
It seemed that even being free of a Convict heritage was no guarantee of people acting with integrity or honesty.
Roy Morgan research
Adelaide Crows supporters were:
2001 when compared to other Australians
2004 when compared to other AFL supporters
2006 when compared to other AFL supporters
Club song Adelaide crows theme song
The lines: "Admiration of the Nation" seem indicative of a community having trouble coming to terms with how little respect they really command across the nation. Historically, Adelaide has been known as a city with a disproportionately high number of wowsers. Such suspicions have been confirmed by its advertising slogan: "City of Churches" which indicates the city obviously doesn't have a great deal going on.
Hatred for Port Adelaide was one of the initial motivations driving support the Crows. In the SANFL, Port are the most successful, most hated and most popular club. In the AFL, Port are the small fish and the Crows have more members, supporters and most importantly, two premierships to the Power's one.
Adelaide Crows jokes
Darren Jarman - Johnny come latey who won a Grand Final for the Crows. Odd looking fella who bore an uncanny resemblance to Magilla Gorrilla.
Wayne Weidemann - Depending upon who is being asked, the man from Fish Creek looked like a Viking or a dope smoker. Evoked the catch-cry "Weeeeeeed" whenever he went near the ball.
Mark Riccuito - Tough centreman who evoked "Rooooooooooo!" when he touches the ball. To the uninitiated, it sounded like he was being booed and being lumped in the same category as the likes of Buckley, Carey and Libratore.
Andrew McLeod - Smooth centreman who ran the field like a hot knife slicing through butter.
Tony Modra - High flying pretty boy that football fans Australia wide feared may become another Warwick Capper in retirement.
|Was this more interesting than a news update of players in a recovery session standing around in the ocean looking cold or of a team 'training without incident'?|