|Full name Adelaide Football Club|
Home-and-away season 5th
Coach Don Pyke
Arena/Stadium Adelaide Oval
Leading goalkicker Eddie Betts (75)
Captain Taylor Walker
Mascot Claude "Curls" Crow
|Motto Natus Ad Magna Gerenda ("Born to Great Things"), "We Fly As One"|
Colours Navy blue Red Gold
CEO Andrew Fagan (15 Sep 2014–)
The Adelaide Football Club, nicknamed the Crows, is a professional Australian rules football club that competes in the Australian Football League (AFL). The club is based in Adelaide, South Australia, playing its home matches at Adelaide Oval. The club has its training and administration base at Football Park in West Lakes, where it previously played home matches between 1991 and 2013. The club song is "The Pride of South Australia", to the tune of the Marines' Hymn.
- 1991 season
- 1992 season
- 1993 season
- 1994 season
- 1995 season
- 1996 season
- 1997 season
- 1998 season
- 1999 season
- 2000 season
- 2001 season
- 2002 season
- 2003 season
- 2004 season
- 2005 season
- 2006 season
- 2007 season
- 2008 season
- 2009 season
- 2010 season
- 2011 season
- 2012 season
- 2013 season
- 2014 season
- 2015 season
- 2016 season
- Club guernsey
- Membership base and sponsorship
- Team of the Decade
- Past players
- AFL Womens team
- SANFL team
The Crows were formed in 1990 as a composite team owned by the SANFL and played their first season in 1991. They won both the 1997 and 1998 Grand Finals, and have appeared in 12 finals series in their 25-year history.
The club is currently captained by Taylor Walker and coached by Don Pyke. Walker was appointed captain prior to the 2015 season, while Pyke permanently succeeded the late Phil Walsh as head coach in October 2015.
Throughout the 1980s, the Victorian Football League (VFL) began to expand outside of Victoria, firstly by the relocation of a team into New South Wales (Sydney Swans) in 1982, and then the expansion into Western Australia (West Coast Eagles) and Queensland (Brisbane Bears) in 1987. However, the SANFL was against a South Australian team joining the VFL under the financial terms offered throughout the 1980s. To circumvent this, the VFL negotiated directly with both the Port Adelaide and Norwood Football Clubs during the late 1980s, but did not come to an agreement.
After the VFL was renamed the AFL for the 1990 season, the SANFL clubs unanimously resolved, in May 1990, that a team would not be entered into the AFL until season 1993. The AFL refused to accept this, and revised negotiations with individual clubs Port Adelaide and Norwood. Two months later, the Port Adelaide Football Club reached terms of agreement with the AFL to enter a team into its competition in season 1991. The other nine SANFL clubs reacted strongly and entered into litigation in an endeavour to halt Port's bid.
As the terms offered were more favourable than previously offered, talks were resumed. On 19 September 1990, the AFL approved the bid for a new South Australian club to enter to the league, rather than a single existing SANFL club.
The Adelaide Crows played their first season in the AFL in 1991. Their inaugural coach was Graham Cornes and their first captain was Chris McDermott.
Adelaide's first AFL game was against Hawthorn on Friday 22 March at their then home ground, Football Park (later renamed AAMI Stadium). The Crows defeated the eventual premiers by a hefty 86-point margin, winning 24.11 (155) to 9.15 (69). The Crows went on to finish in ninth place out of 15 teams on the AFL ladder, with 10 wins and 12 losses and a percentage of 89.44.
Mark Mickan won the club's first Club Champion award (later named the Malcolm Blight Medal) for the club's best and fairest player throughout the season, with Tony McGuinness finishing runner-up. Rod Jameson was the club's leading goalkicker with 49, while Nigel Smart was named in the AFL All-Australian team.
The Crows again finished in ninth place in 1992, with an 11-11 win-loss record and a percentage of 101.36.
Chris McDermott won the Club Champion award from Tony McGuinness, while Scott Hodges led the club's goalscoring with 48 goals, including a haul of 11 against Geelong in round 23. McDermott, McGuinness and defender Ben Hart were all named in the 1992 All-Australian team.
During the post-season trading period, Adelaide traded in future dual premiership player Matthew Robran from Hawthorn for pick 11 in the national draft, as well as receiving Sydney's Stuart Wigney for pick 71.
Adelaide finished fifth on the ladder after the home-and-away season in 1993, with 12 wins and 8 losses and a percentage of 117.83, including a home record of 9 wins out of 10 at Football Park. The Crows had to defeat Collingwood at home in the last match of the season to make the top six and thus qualify, and despite conceding six goals to one in the first quarter they did so by 24 points, 19.21 (135) to 17.9 (111).
Under the McIntyre final six system in use, Adelaide travelled to play against fourth-placed Hawthorn at the MCG the next week, in the First Elimination Final. With Nigel Smart kicking four goals, Adelaide won 16.14 (110) to 13.17 (95). Because sixth-placed West Coast had defeated third-placed North Melbourne, Adelaide progressed to the Second Semi Final against Carlton at Waverley Park, with a double-chance ensuring they would not be knocked out of the finals by a loss. The Crows lost to Carlton by 18 points, 13.8 (86) to 8.20 (68), and thus had to play Essendon in the Preliminary Final, with the winner to play Carlton in the Grand Final. Whilst technically a Crows home game, the match was played at the MCG due to an agreement with the Melbourne Cricket Club that a match had to be played at the MCG during every week of the finals. Against Essendon, the Crows led by 42 points at half-time before collapsing to lose by 11: 17.9 (111) to 14.16 (100). Adelaide player Mark Bickley later suggested that the players' poor performance during the second half may have been caused by the team's lack of concentration and resolve during the coach's half time address. The loss ended the Crows' season, while Essendon then went on to defeat Carlton a week later and thus win the Premiership.
Tony McGuinness won the Club Champion award from Mark Bickley, while full-forward Tony Modra kicked a club record 129 goals for the season, including finals, to be the club's leading goalkicker. Modra also was awarded the AFL Mark of the Year for his spectacular mark in round 8 against North Melbourne at Football Park. McGuinness, Modra, Greg Anderson, Ben Hart and Nigel Smart were all named in the All-Australian team for 1993. The AFL Rising Star award was also first awarded in 1993, with Mark Ricciuto being nominated for his 28-disposal performance against Richmond in round 16.
After the 1993 season, Adelaide traded in Hawthorn's Tony Hall and Collingwood's Brett Chalmers, in exchange for draft picks 17 and 34, respectively.
Adelaide started the 1994 season by making the final of the pre-season knockout competition. In the competition, then known as the Foster's Cup, they played Essendon in the final and lost, 15.12 (102) to 9.14 (68).
In 1994, Adelaide missed the finals for the third year out of four in the competition, finishing in 11th place with 9 wins and a draw from their 22 matches, and a percentage of 86.89. Adelaide's draw against St Kilda at Waverley Park in round 14 remains their only draw in the AFL to date.
Shaun Rehn was the club's Club Champion in 1994 with Tony McGuinness finishing runner-up. Tony Modra kicked 70 goals to finish as the club's leading goalscorer, while Rehn and Mark Ricciuto were both All-Australians, and Matthew Kluzek and Sean Wellman achieved Rising Star nominations. Following the season, coach Graham Cornes was sacked and replaced by Robert Shaw, while Tony McGuinness replaced Chris McDermott as captain.
During the off-season, Adelaide secured future champion Andrew McLeod in a trade with new club Fremantle, in exchange for Chris Groom. They also traded for Collingwood's Jason McCartney for draft picks 9 and 53, and West Coast's Matthew Connell for pick 44. The Crows also recruited future premiership players Peter Vardy (pick 7) and Tyson Edwards (pick 21) in the 1995 pre-season draft.
In 1995, Adelaide again made the final of the pre-season competition, by this stage known as the Ansett Cup. They defeated Geelong, West Coast and Sydney before losing to North Melbourne in the final, 14.9 (93) to 8.15 (63).
For the second successive season, Adelaide finished in 11th place on the AFL ladder, with a win-loss record of 9-13 and percentage of 80.08. Matthew Connell won the Club Champion award from Andrew Jarman, while Tony Modra again led the Crows' goalscoring with 42 goals. Modra also became the first Crow to kick the AFL Goal of the Year, achieving the feat against Richmond. No Crows were selected in the 1995 All-Australian team. Martin McKinnon and Andrew McLeod were both nominated for the Rising Star award.
In the post-season trading period, the Crows secured Hawthorn premiership player Darren Jarman, brother of Andrew Jarman, in a complicated deal that saw them give up national draft pick 25 to Hawthorn and Sean Wellman to Essendon. Adelaide also traded in Kym Koster (Footscray) for pick 9, Troy Bond (Carlton) for pick 63 and Peter Caven (Sydney) for Paul Rouvray, and drafted Kane Johnson (pick 27, national draft), Shane Ellen (pick 8, pre-season draft) and Simon Goodwin (pick 18, pre-season draft); all would become premiership players for the club.
Adelaide started the 1996 season in good form, winning their first four matches and six of their first eight. However, they won just two more matches for the season: home matches against the Brisbane Bears and Fitzroy. They finished the season in 12th position, with 8 wins, 14 losses and a percentage of 95.96. 7 of these wins were at home; away from home they defeated only last-placed Fitzroy, in round 2.
The Club Champion for 1996 was awarded to Matthew Liptak from Nigel Smart, while Darren Jarman was Adelaide's sole All-Australian representative. No Crows were nominated for the 1996 Rising Star award. For the fourth season in a row, Tony Modra topped Adelaide's goalkicking with 75. Ben Hart was awarded the AFL Mark of the Year for his mark against St Kilda in Round 8.
Coach Robert Shaw was replaced at the end of the season by former Woodville and North Melbourne player Malcolm Blight. Blight made an immediate impact upon arriving at the club, delisting captain Tony McGuinness and fan favourite Andrew Jarman in addition to retiring former captain Chris McDermott. Mark Bickley was appointed McGuinness' replacement as captain.
During the off-season, Adelaide traded in Brett James (Collingwood) for Jonathon Ross; Trent Ormond-Allen and Clay Sampson (Melbourne) for pick 83 and Nick Pesch; Tim Cook, Aaron Keating and Nick Laidlaw (Port Adelaide) for Scott Hodges and David Brown; and Barry Standfield (Footscray) for picks 32 and 47. Notable draftees included future premiership players Andrew Eccles (pick 60, national draft), Chad Rintoul (pick 69, national draft) and Ben Marsh (pick 5, rookie draft).
1997 marked the entry of a second South Australian club, Port Adelaide. The lingering resentment from the circumstances surrounding Adelaide's entry to the competition created a healthy rivalry between the teams, and clashes between them became known as Showdowns.
Adelaide started the 1997 season by defeating the newly formed Brisbane Lions (created by the merging of the Brisbane Bears and Fitzroy) but then lost three consecutive games, including an 11-point loss to Port Adelaide in the first Showdown in Round 4, 11.17 (83) to 11.6 (72). However, Adelaide rebounded to win 11 of their next 15 matches, including five in a row between rounds 7 and 11. After defeating Port Adelaide by 7 points in round 19, Adelaide were top of the ladder with three matches to play; however, they won just one of those three games and qualified for the finals in fourth place with a 13-9 record.
At the time the McIntyre Final Eight System was in use, meaning the Crows hosted fifth-placed West Coast in the First Elimination Final. In the first final ever to be played at Football Park, the Crows won 14.15 (99) to 9.12 (66). The next week, Adelaide hosted Geelong, who had come second but lost the previous week to North Melbourne, in the Second Semi Final, winning narrowly: 11.10 (76) to 9.14 (68). This set up an away Preliminary Final against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG. Despite losing Coleman Medallist Tony Modra, who had kicked 84 goals for the season, to an ACL injury in the first quarter and trailing by 31 points at half time, the Crows kicked four unanswered goals in the last quarter to record a two-point victory, 12.21 (93) to 13.13 (91), with Darren Jarman kicking a goal to put Adelaide in front with less than two minutes remaining. This allowed the Crows to qualify for their first AFL Grand Final, to be played against St Kilda at the MCG a week later.
St Kilda, chasing their second Premiership in VFL/AFL history, were warm favourites to win the Grand Final, having come first in the minor round and won both of their finals by margins of 46 and 31 points, against an Adelaide side without Tony Modra, Mark Ricciuto and goalsneak Peter Vardy due to injury. However, the Crows again overcame a half-time deficit, kicking 14 second-half goals to win by 31 points, 19.11 (125) to 13.16 (94). Darren Jarman kicked six goals, five of which came in the last quarter, whilst utility Shane Ellen kicked a career-best five and Troy Bond kicked four. Andrew McLeod, who gathered 31 possessions across half-back and in the midfield, won the Norm Smith Medal for the best player on-field in the Grand Final.
Andrew McLeod was the Crows' Club Champion in 1997, while Darren Jarman was runner-up. In addition to winning the Coleman Medal and being the club's leading goalkicker for the fifth straight season, Tony Modra was also awarded the AFL Mark of the Year for the second time, for his mark on the goal line over Mick Martyn against North Melbourne at Football Park in Round 12. Modra was also named at full-forward in the All-Australian team, while Mark Ricciuto was named on the interchange bench. Kane Johnson and Peter Vardy both achieved Rising Star nominations.
In the post-season trading period Adelaide received Nathan Bassett from Melbourne for Matthew Collins and Brent Williams, Mark Stevens from North Melbourne for Jason McCartney and Ian Downsborough from Port Adelaide for Brett Chalmers. The Crows drafted Lance Picioane with their first national draft pick at 17; he would play only 4 AFL games for the Crows and 77 in total. Other notable draftees included future premiership player James Thiessen at pick 33 and Ian Perrie at pick 49. Ben Marsh was also re-drafted as a rookie at pick 16.
For the second successive season, the Crows started slowly in 1998, winning just three of their first eight matches. From there they improved their win-loss record to 13-9, the same as the previous year. They did not seal their place in the top eight until the final round, when they defeated West Coast at Subiaco Oval by 25 points to clinch fifth place. Adelaide struggled throughout the season to win close matches; seven of their nine losses were by 13 points or less, compared to only three wins by corresponding margins.
The Crows travelled to face Melbourne at the MCG in the First Qualifying Final and were defeated easily, 17.13 (115) to 9.13 (67). However, as the highest-placed loser under the McIntyre Final Eight System they received a reprieve, and travelled to the SCG to play Sydney. With Peter Vardy kicking six goals, Adelaide won 14.10 (94) to 10.7 (67). This led them, for the second year in a row, to play the Western Bulldogs in a Preliminary Final at the MCG. In contrast to the thriller that took place the previous year, however, the Crows defeated the Bulldogs soundly, 24.17 (161) to 13.15 (93). Matthew Robran kicked six goals and Andrew McLeod, opposed to renowned tagger Tony Liberatore, booted seven.
Like the previous year, Adelaide went into the Grand Final as underdogs, playing against North Melbourne, who had won the Premiership in 1996 and had won eleven consecutive matches leading up to the Grand Final. North Melbourne led by 24 points at half-time, 6.15 (51) to 4.3 (27), with only their inaccurate goalkicking keeping Adelaide in the contest. However, as they had in the previous year, Adelaide dominated the second half to win by 35 points, 15.15 (105) to 8.22 (70). Darren Jarman kicked five goals, while Andrew McLeod won his second successive Norm Smith Medal, an unprecedented feat.
Mark Ricciuto won the Crows' Club Champion award in 1998, while Nigel Smart was runner-up. Ricciuto, Smart, Andrew McLeod and Shaun Rehn were all named in the All-Australian side, while Andrew Eccles was nominated for the AFL Rising Star award. Darren Jarman was Adelaide's leading goalkicker with 45. At the end of the season, Adelaide traded star forward Tony Modra to Fremantle, as well as Chad Rintoul to West Coast, for draft picks. In the national draft, Adelaide drafted future 100-game players Brett Burton (pick 16), Tyson Stenglein (pick 29) and Ken McGregor (pick 75).
The Crows made a good start to their premiership defence in 1999 with four wins in the first six rounds, before struggling for the rest of the season, winning only four more games. They eventually finished 13th with an 8-14 win-loss record, their lowest ever finish at the time, and the lowest finish by a reigning premier in VFL/AFL history.
Malcolm Blight resigned as coach at the end of the season, to be replaced by Gary Ayres, while popular defender (and inaugural leading goalkicker) Rod Jameson also played his final game in Adelaide's round 22 loss to the Kangaroos (newly renamed from North Melbourne). The Crows' Club Champion award, renamed the Malcolm Blight Medal in Blight's honour, was won by Ben Hart from Andrew McLeod. Hart was also Adelaide's only All-Australian representative. David Gallagher and Brett Burton both received AFL Rising Star nominations, while Darren Jarman led Adelaide's goalkicking for the second consecutive year with 58 goals.
In the off-season, Adelaide traded for Brisbane Lions ruckman Matthew Clarke, giving up picks 6 and 21, and the Kangaroos' Scott Welsh for pick 77, while trading Lance Picioane to Hawthorn for pick 79. Future stars Rhett Biglands (pick 36) and Robert Shirley (pick 67) were drafted in the 1999 national draft, and Michael Doughty was the club's first rookie selection at pick 4.
Adelaide lost their first five matches in 2000, placing them at the bottom of the AFL ladder at this stage. This continued after they had lost the last four games of the previous season; their nine-game losing streak overall remains a club record. Adelaide then won seven of the next nine matches, improving their win-loss record to 7-7 after round 14, at which point they moved into the top eight. However, the Crows finished poorly, eventually finishing 11th with a 9-13 record. At the end of the season, Mark Bickley stepped down as captain, and Mark Ricciuto took over.
Simon Goodwin won the Malcolm Blight Medal in 2000, with Andrew McLeod finishing runner-up. Scott Welsh led the club's goalscoring with 47. Goodwin, McLeod and Ricciuto were named in the All-Australian team, while Ian Perrie was nominated for the Rising Star award. The Crows traded away premiership ruckman Shaun Rehn to Hawthorn at the end of the season, receiving draft pick 12 which they on-traded to Port Adelaide for Matthew Bode. Adelaide also traded pick 23 for the Kangaroos' Evan Hewitt. Indigenous 200-game defender Graham Johncock was drafted with Adelaide's final pick in the national draft, number 67 overall.
Adelaide showed inconsistent form in 2001; after losing their opening three matches, they won 12 of their next 18 to seal their first finals spot since 1998 with a round to spare. By defeating bottom-placed Fremantle, who had won just one match for the season, at Subiaco Oval in the final round, the Crows could have had a chance to host a final under the new top eight system implemented in 2000, but they lost by 37 points and finished in eighth place with a 12-10 record. Adelaide won just six matches at home in 2001, an equal club worst at the time, but won a club best six matches outside of South Australia.
Adelaide played fifth-placed Carlton at the MCG in the First Elimination Final. They had defeated Carlton twice during the year, but Carlton turned the tables by eliminating Adelaide, 17.16 (118) to 6.14 (50). Their 68-point loss was their worst losing margin of the season, and Darren Jarman announced his retirement after the match.
In addition to finishing runner-up to Jason Akermanis in the 2001 Brownlow Medal, Andrew McLeod won the Malcolm Blight Medal from Mark Stevens, becoming the Medal's first dual winner. Darren Jarman kicked 40 goals to top the Crows' goalkicking, while McLeod and Simon Goodwin were named in the All-Australian team. Adelaide did not receive any Rising Star nominations in 2001.
The 2001 off-season was a busy one for the Crows. They traded away premiership-winning small forward Peter Vardy to Melbourne for pick 56, on-trading that pick to Fremantle for Daniel Schell. They also received young key forward Ryan Fitzgerald from Sydney for pick 28, who would play only eight games for Adelaide due to injury, but would later become a popular radio and television personality and a high-profile supporter of the club. Finally, the Crows received Carlton's Kris Massie and Ben Nelson in exchange for Andrew Eccles and David Gallagher.
With Adelaide's first pick in the 2001 national draft, they drafted 200-game player Brent Reilly at pick 12. They also used their rookie picks particularly well in this year: Nathan Bock (pick 25), Ben Rutten (pick 40) and Martin Mattner (pick 51) would all become renowned players at AFL level. Finally, in the pre-season draft, the Crows chose Trent Hentschel at pick 5.
Adelaide won their first three matches in 2002, and despite a mid-season slump of three losses in a row (Rounds 12-14) they finished the season in third place with a 15-7 win-loss record, both club bests at the time. The Crows won all 13 of their matches against teams that did not make the finals, but only two out of nine matches against fellow top eight teams: a 7-point triumph over reigning (and eventual) Premiers the Brisbane Lions in Round 10 and a 48-point victory over Essendon in Round 19, both at Football Park.
Under the AFL final eight system, the Crows faced second-placed Brisbane at The Gabba in the Second Qualifying Final and lost by 71 points, 17.13 (115) to 5.14 (44). Due to finishing in the top four, Adelaide received a double chance and a "home" Semi Final against Melbourne, played at the MCG due to the MCC agreement. Adelaide led by 40 points at quarter time, before the Demons rallied, taking a 29-point lead late in the third quarter. However, the Crows responded with a final-quarter surge to win by 12 points, 20.10 (130) to 17.16 (118). The win gave them a Preliminary Final berth against Collingwood at the MCG. Adelaide led in the second quarter but Collingwood surged to win, 13.13 (91) to 9.9 (63), progressing to the Grand Final at Adelaide's expense. Collingwood would lose to Brisbane the following week in the first of successive Grand Finals to be contested by the two teams.
Ben Hart won his second Malcolm Blight Medal in 2002, with Tyson Edwards finishing runner-up. Brett Burton led the Crows' goalkickers with 51. Hart and Mark Ricciuto were both named as All-Australians, while for the second successive season, Adelaide had no Rising Star nominees.
In the off-season, Adelaide secured the services of champion centre half forward Wayne Carey in a trade with the Kangaroos. This was achieved by a three-way deal along with Richmond, where homesick midfielder Kane Johnson and several draft picks went to Richmond and Richmond's top two draft picks, 2 and 18, were traded to the Kangaroos. Adelaide also received Richmond defender Jason Torney as part of the deal. The Crows also traded for veteran Geelong small forward Ronnie Burns, giving up Ben Finnin in exchange. Robert Shirley was re-drafted by the club at pick 56 in the national draft, while Jason Porplyzia was drafted for the first time at pick 29 in the rookie draft.
Adelaide started 2003 by winning the pre-season competition for the first time in their history. They defeated Port Adelaide, West Coast and the Kangaroos before facing Collingwood in the final, which they won, 188.8.131.52 (104) to 184.108.40.206 (73). (An explanation of scoring is given on this page.)
Adelaide again made the finals in 2003, winning nine matches out of eleven between Rounds 9 and 19 to sit second on the ladder with a 13-6 record with three rounds to play. However, they lost all three of those matches to finish in sixth position. Eight of Adelaide's nine losses were by three goals or less, including a 5-point loss to Collingwood at the newly renamed AAMI Stadium in Round 7, where Chris Tarrant kicked the winning goal after the siren.
Adelaide faced seventh-placed West Coast at AAMI Stadium in the Second Elimination Final and won easily, 16.17 (113) to 8.9 (57). This set up an away Semi Final against the Brisbane Lions at The Gabba, which the Crows lost, 18.16 (124) to 12.10 (82): their greatest losing margin of the season. This game marked the final appearance for dual premiership captain Mark Bickley. Brisbane went on to defeat Sydney and then Collingwood to claim their third successive Premiership.
In 2003, Adelaide captain Mark Ricciuto became the first Crow to win the Brownlow Medal for the best and fairest player in the AFL in a three-way tie with Adam Goodes and Nathan Buckley. He also won his second Malcolm Blight Medal from Tyson Edwards, and was Adelaide's sole All-Australian for the year. Graham Johncock led the club's goalkicking with 30, one ahead of Wayne Carey who booted 29. For the third year in a row, no Crows were nominated for the Rising Star award in 2003. At the end of the season, Adelaide traded for Sydney key position player Scott Stevens, trading away picks 29 and 45. Their most notable draftee in that year's national draft was mature-aged ruckman Ben Hudson, taken at pick 58.
Adelaide lost their first four matches in 2004, at which point they sat on the bottom of the AFL ladder. Victories over Richmond, Port Adelaide and Hawthorn lifted them off the bottom but they failed to win successive matches in the first half of the season. Wayne Carey suffered a serious neck injury in Adelaide's Round 12 loss to West Coast at Subiaco Oval, which left them with a 3-9 record. Carey announced his retirement soon afterwards, having played 28 games and kicked 56 goals for the club. Nigel Smart, the last remaining player from Adelaide's inaugural match against Hawthorn in 1991, also announced he would retire after the following week's match against Western Bulldogs at AAMI Stadium. The Crows won the match by 32 points, after which coach Gary Ayres was told his contract would not be renewed at the end of the season. Ayres elected to resign immediately, and assistant coach Neil Craig was appointed caretaker coach for the remainder of the season.
In Craig's first match as senior coach, Adelaide thrashed Melbourne, at the time second on the ladder, by 72 points at AAMI Stadium. The Crows lost their next three matches, including a club record 141-point loss to the Brisbane Lions at The Gabba, but rebounded to win three of their last five. Ultimately the Crows finished 12th on the ladder with an 8-14 record, including 4-5 under Craig, who was appointed Adelaide's senior coach from 2005.
Mark Ricciuto was the Malcolm Blight Medal winner for the second consecutive year, and his third overall, while Tyson Stenglein finished runner-up. Ricciuto was also the team's only All-Australian representative for the second year running, and became the first Crow to be named All-Australian captain. Brent Reilly became Adelaide's first Rising Star nominee since 2000, for his performance in Adelaide's home loss to Fremantle in Round 16. Scott Welsh topped the club's goalkicking with 36.
During the off-season, Stenglein requested a trade to his home state, Western Australia, and was traded to West Coast for draft picks 12 and 28. Adelaide on-traded pick 12 to secure the services of young midfielder Scott Thompson from Melbourne. In the national draft, Adelaide selected future captain Nathan van Berlo with their second pick at 24 overall, and also drafted Ivan Maric (pick 40) and Chris Knights (pick 56).
2005 saw Adelaide have their best home and away season in the history of the club, finishing 17–5 and winning the club's first ever McClelland Trophy for finishing atop the ladder after the home-and-away season. The Crows had started promisingly after the disappointment of 2004 winning 4 of their first 6 matches, and gathered momentum as the season progressed, winning 10 matches in a row from rounds 13 to 22. The last of these was a stunning eight-point victory over hot premiership favourites West Coast at Subiaco Oval, in a match that saw them leapfrog the Eagles into top spot.
The Crows were brought crashing down to earth in their First Qualifying Final against fourth placed St Kilda at AAMI Stadium. In a tough, low-scoring contest Adelaide missed the leadership of captain Mark Ricciuto, suspended for striking Adam Selwood the previous week, and despite a late fightback they lost by eight points: 10.5 (65) to 8.9 (57). The loss set up a sudden death Semi Final against Port Adelaide, the reigning Premiers. The Crows regained Ricciuto, and in front of a crowd of 50,521 they defeated Port by a Showdown record margin of 83 points: 18.15 (123) to 5.10 (40). As a result, Adelaide faced a Preliminary Final match against West Coast at Subiaco, where they had won just three weeks before. In another tough game in windy conditions, West Coast broke away with five goals to one in a decisive third quarter, and again a final-quarter comeback was in vain as the Eagles ended Adelaide's season, 14.9 (93) to 11.11 (77). West Coast would then lose the Grand Final to Sydney the next week by just four points. Adelaide joined Essendon (1999) and Port Adelaide (2002 and 2003) as recent AFL minor premiers who had failed to make the Grand Final.
The Malcolm Blight Medallist for 2005 was Simon Goodwin, who won the award from Nathan Bassett, his second after having won it in 2000. For the second successive year, Scott Welsh led the goalscoring with 58 goals including finals. Ricciuto was All-Australian captain for the second year in a row, selected on a half-forward flank, while Ben Rutten was full-back and Goodwin was named on the interchange bench. No Crows were nominated for the Rising Star award. Adelaide traded Fergus Watts to St Kilda for pick 17 over the off-season. Notable players drafted in the 2006 national draft included future club champions Richard Douglas (pick 16) and Bernie Vince (pick 32), while Jason Porplyzia was drafted for the second time at pick 9 in the pre-season draft.
2006 saw the Crows start the season in dominant fashion. Narrow losses to West Coast in round 2 and Richmond in round 8 - the latter noted for Richmond's controversial but successful "keepings-off" tactics - were the only blips in the radar as Adelaide stormed to a 14–2 win/loss record, with eight of those wins by 50 points or more. At this stage their percentage of 172.38 was the best since West Coast in 1991. However, the Crows faded to lose four of their next five games, starting with an unexpected 82-point thumping by West Coast at Subiaco Oval. The sudden lapse was attributed in some part to injuries to several key players: Mark Ricciuto, Andrew McLeod, Ben Hart, Brett Burton and leading goalkicker Trent Hentschel; the last, after a breakout season, suffered a shocking knee injury against Port Adelaide in round 21 that would keep him out of the game for the next two seasons and curtail the rest of his career.
Adelaide did finish the home-and-away season on a positive note, winning their final game against Melbourne by 58 points and finishing the minor round in second place behind West Coast, with 16 wins and 6 losses. They thus entered the Second Qualifying Final at home against third-placed Fremantle, who had won their past nine games including a defeat of the Crows in Adelaide in round 19. There was to be no repeat however, as in blustery conditions with a strong breeze favouring Fremantle in the first quarter, Adelaide held the Dockers in check before running away with the game in the last quarter with the help of the wind, winning 10.16 (76) to 7.4 (46). Adelaide thus earned a week's rest before a Preliminary Final re-match against West Coast, this time to be played at AAMI Stadium. The Crows regained McLeod and Burton and started well, leading by 22 points at half-time, despite losing ruckman Rhett Biglands to a serious knee injury in the first quarter. However, a brilliant second-half performance by Ben Cousins saw West Coast come back to take the lead in the last quarter and hold on to win, 11.19 (85) to 11.9 (75), a bitter end to a year that had promised so much. For the second consecutive year, West Coast would face Sydney in a thrilling Grand Final: this time they won, by one point.
Simon Goodwin won his third Malcolm Blight Medal, and second in a row, while Tyson Edwards was runner-up. Goodwin, McLeod and Nathan Bassett were all named in the All-Australian team, while Ricciuto was the leading goalkicker with 44 goals. Again, Adelaide had no Rising Star nominees. Hart, who had become the Crows' first ever player to play 300 AFL games in round 2, was delisted at the end of the season. Draftees included Kurt Tippett at pick 32 in the national draft and David Mackay at pick 48.
The Crows showed patchy, inconsistent form throughout 2007, with previously successful coach Neil Craig criticised at times for his strict, inflexible game plan. The season had started with a shock home loss to Essendon, before Adelaide won six of their next eight games to sit in third place after round 9. This was followed by a steady slide, with just two wins in the next eight games causing Adelaide to fall to twelfth with five rounds remaining. An 8-point come-from-behind victory over eventual runners-up Port Adelaide proved the breakout; despite falling to dominant Geelong the next week, Adelaide then won their last three home-and-away matches, including a last-round win over top four contenders Collingwood at the Telstra Dome to secure eighth place and an away Elimination Final against Hawthorn, who they had defeated by 71 points during the season. In a high-scoring match, Adelaide led by 31 points in the second quarter but were reeled in by the Hawks and Lance Franklin. In a heartstopping finish, Franklin kicked his seventh goal from beyond 50 metres with only seconds left, giving Hawthorn victory, 15.15 (105) to 15.12 (102), and ending Adelaide's season.
Andrew McLeod won his third Malcolm Blight Medal in 2007, with Simon Goodwin finishing runner-up. McLeod was also Adelaide's only All-Australian representative, and was named captain. Scott Welsh was the Crows' leading goalscorer for the fourth time, kicking 49 for the season. The Crows had no Rising Star nominees, meaning they had had only one nomination since 2000 (Brent Reilly in 2004).
The off-season saw plenty of change to the Crows' squad. Captain Mark Ricciuto retired due to persistent injuries, with Goodwin succeeding him as skipper, while Welsh walked out on the club and was subsequently drafted by the Western Bulldogs in the pre-season draft. Jason Torney, Ian Perrie and Matthew Bode were among those delisted by the club. In the trade period, Martin Mattner was traded to Sydney for pick 28, which was on-traded to Port Adelaide for midfielder Brad Symes; John Meesen was traded to Melbourne for pick 37, later traded to North Melbourne for Brad Moran; and Ben Hudson went to the Bulldogs along with pick 43 for picks 30 and 38. Adelaide was successful in the 2007 national draft, drafting Patrick Dangerfield with pick 10, Andy Otten with pick 27 and New South Wales scholarship player Taylor Walker with their final pick, 75.
Adelaide started the 2008 season in promising form, and at the halfway mark they sat in fourth place on the table with an 8-3 win-loss record, led by a strong defensive unit of Ben Rutten, Nathan Bassett and Nathan Bock. However, a tiring midfield and injuries to key forwards Brett Burton and Jason Porplyzia resulted in a mid-season slide similar to the previous year, with the Crows falling out of the top eight after five consecutive losses. Again, though, Adelaide finished strongly with five wins in their last six home-and-away matches, including a shock round 22 victory over the third-placed Western Bulldogs which temporarily lifted the Crows into fourth position. A 108-point win by St Kilda over Essendon the next day saw the Saints overtake Adelaide on percentage; the Crows fell to fifth, costing them a double-chance and sending them into a sudden death Elimination Final against eighth-placed Collingwood at AAMI Stadium. This proved costly as, despite a six-goal performance from Scott Stevens, Collingwood dominated after half-time to win, 19.11 (125) to 14.10 (94).
Bock won the Malcolm Blight Medal in 2008 from Simon Goodwin, and was Adelaide's sole All-Australian representative at centre half back. Burton was Adelaide's leading goalkicker, with 34 goals in only 13 matches, and Kurt Tippett because Adelaide's first Rising Star nominee in four years with his four-goal performance against Melbourne in round 8. Nathan Bassett and Ken McGregor both retired at the end of the 2008 season, as well as Rhett Biglands who due to injury had not played since the 2006 Preliminary Final. Kris Massie was among those delisted by the club.
In the 2008 national draft, Adelaide drafted key position player Phil Davis with their first pick, number 10 overall. Other notable acquisitions included future club champion Rory Sloane at pick 44, and Ricky Henderson at pick 10 in the rookie draft.
After an indifferent start to the 2009 season, Adelaide hit form through the middle of the year, winning seven consecutive games between rounds 9 and 15. The catalyst was again their stingy defence, which held Melbourne (round 5) and Carlton (round 9) goalless to half-time, conceded just 3.6 (24) in their round 12 match against North Melbourne and restricted Fremantle to just 1.7 (13) in round 15 - the lowest score by a side in any VFL/AFL match since 1961. Losses to premiership contenders St Kilda, Geelong and Collingwood late in the season damaged Adelaide's top four hopes, and despite winning their last three matches they finished the season in fifth place for the second year running, with a 14–8 record.
Essendon visited AAMI Stadium in the first week of the finals for the First Elimination Final. After a close first quarter Adelaide dominated the match, winning 26.10 (166) to 10.10 (70) - their biggest ever finals win and third win in a row by more than 70 points. The win put the Crows into the First Semi Final against Collingwood at the MCG. Adelaide continued their good form and led by 24 points at half-time before the Magpies responded to take the lead at three quarter time. In a thrilling final quarter, the lead changed several times before, for the second time in three years, Adelaide were sunk by a goal in the dying seconds: Jack Anthony converted a free kick from 40 metres on a slight angle, giving Collingwood a five-point win: 12.11 (83) to 11.12 (78).
Bernie Vince won the Malcolm Blight Medal in 2009 from leading goalkicker Jason Porplyzia. Sharpshooter Porplyzia kicked 57 goals for the season, with only 15 behinds. Simon Goodwin was named on a half back flank in the All Australian team. Young stars Patrick Dangerfield, Andy Otten and Taylor Walker were all nominated for the 2009 Rising Star award, with Otten finishing runner-up in the award to the Brisbane Lions' Daniel Rich. Veteran forward Brett Burton, who returned to the side late in the season having torn his ACL the previous year, took the Mark of the Year in round 22 against Carlton.
Adelaide drafted Daniel Talia (pick 13) and Jack Gunston (pick 29) with their first two selections in the national draft. They also picked up Matthew Wright (pick 33) and Matthew Jaensch (pick 46) in the rookie draft. Tagger Robert Shirley was delisted at the end of the season.
Adelaide had a disastrous start to the 2010 season, losing their first six matches of the home and away season. This saw Adelaide second-last on the ladder only percentage above Richmond, and overtook their start of five losses in 2000 as the worst start to a season in the clubs history. The sharp decline from their Semi Final appearance in 2009 came due to a combination of poor form and injury troubles; no fewer than six players made their AFL debut in the first nine rounds of the season. Adelaide's form improved as the season wore on, and they won four successive games finishing with a round 16 win over reigning Premiers and league leaders Geelong. This would turn out to be the final career games of club stalwarts Andrew McLeod and Simon Goodwin. The Crows won just two of their last six games but continued their good form in pushing top four sides the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood to close margins and upsetting third-placed St Kilda in the final round. They finished 11th with nine wins and 13 losses, marking the first time under Neil Craig that the team did not make the finals.
The Malcolm Blight Medallist for 2010 was Richard Douglas, with Scott Thompson finishing runner-up. Kurt Tippett was Adelaide's leading goalscorer with 46 goals. No Crows made the All-Australian team, but Phil Davis was nominated for the Rising Star award. Besides McLeod and Goodwin, fellow stars Brett Burton, Tyson Edwards and Trent Hentschel all announced their retirements during the season, while Nathan Bock announced he was leaving the club to join new side Gold Coast.
In the trading period, Adelaide traded for maligned Richmond player Richard Tambling, giving up their compensation first-round pick for losing Bock and also pick 51, and for young Carlton ruckman Sam Jacobs, trading picks 34 and 67. They also traded Jonathon Griffin to Fremantle, receiving pick 61 in return. At the national draft, they selected Brodie Smith with their first pick, number 14 overall. Prior to the 2011 season, Nathan van Berlo was named Goodwin's successor as captain of Adelaide.
Without their retired stars, a young Adelaide side endured the worst season in their history in 2011. After upsetting a highly touted Hawthorn side in round 1 (in a re-match of the club's inaugural match 20 years earlier), the Crows lost 12 of their next 15 matches, including nine by margins of at least five goals. After a 103-point loss to fading champions St Kilda, the club's longest-serving coach Neil Craig stepped down, handing the reins to assistant coach and former premiership captain Mark Bickley as caretaker for the remainder of the season. Under Bickley the club won three of their next four games, but lost their final two to Richmond and West Coast, finishing in 14th place with 7 wins and 15 losses, both club worsts.
Scott Thompson won the Malcolm Blight Medal for 2011, with new skipper Nathan van Berlo finishing runner-up. Emerging forward Taylor Walker led the goalkicking with 32 goals in 13 games. No Crows were named in the All-Australian side or received Rising Star nominations in 2011. Scott Stevens retired during the season due to complications from multiple concussions, while Brad Moran also retired at the end of the season, and Phil Davis announced his defection to new club Greater Western Sydney.
Adelaide was active on the trade table in the 2011 off-season. Promising forward Jack Gunston requested a trade to Hawthorn, and got his wish via an exchange of draft picks: picks 53 and 71 also went to the Hawks, while Adelaide received picks 24, 46 and 64. Pick 24 was on-traded to Gold Coast for picks 27, 31 and 68; pick 31 was then on-traded to Essendon for rookie forward Josh Jenkins and pick 41, while pick 68 was traded along with pick 35 and Tony Armstrong for Sydney's Lewis Johnston. In other deals, Adelaide traded pick 10 and its first-round compensation pick for Davis to Greater Western Sydney for Luke Brown and pick 2 in the 17-year-old mini-draft, and also traded out ruckman Ivan Maric to Richmond for pick 37, which was on-traded to St Kilda for Tom Lynch.
With their mini-draft pick, Adelaide selected 17-year-old star Brad Crouch, who would not be eligible to play until 2013. Adelaide selected Sam Kerridge with their only top-40 pick in the national draft, pick 27, and drafted Rory Laird with pick 5 in the rookie draft.
Also in the off-season, the Adelaide board undertook a search for Craig's replacement as senior coach. Candidates for the role included Bickley, West Coast assistant coach Scott Burns and Geelong assistant Brenton Sanderson. Sanderson, a 200-game player and former best and fairest for Geelong who had played six games for the Crows at the start of his career, was hired for the role.
Under new coach Brenton Sanderson, Adelaide made an immediate impression the 2012 NAB Cup, defeating Carlton and Port Adelaide in a three-team lightning round-robin match and Brisbane Lions and Collingwood in full-length matches. They faced West Coast in the final at AAMI Stadium on 17 March, and won 2.10.17 (95) to 2.5.13 (61), with Bernie Vince winning the Michael Tuck Medal for best on ground. Adelaide continued their impressive form in the home-and-away season, performing consistently and never losing consecutive matches. They eventually finished second with 17 wins and 5 losses, equalling the club's best home-and-away record set in 2005 and only missing out on the minor premiership to Hawthorn by percentage.
The Crows hosted Sydney at AAMI Stadium in the Second Qualifying Final. Despite having more forward-50 entries Adelaide converted poorly and were comfortably beaten, 11.5 (71) to 5.12 (42). This sent them into a sudden-death Semi Final against Fremantle. Fremantle started well and led by 29 points early in the second quarter, but the Crows responded with Taylor Walker kicking five goals to seal a narrow win, 12.9 (81) to 11.5 (71). As a result, Adelaide faced minor premiers Hawthorn at the MCG in the First Preliminary Final. Hawthorn led for most of the match and despite Adelaide taking the lead with five minutes remaining, the Hawks responded to win the match by five points: 13.19 (97) to 14.8 (92). Hawthorn would go on to lose the Grand Final to Sydney by ten points the next week.
Scott Thompson won his second consecutive Malcolm Blight Medal in 2012, with fellow midfielder Patrick Dangerfield finishing runner-up. Thompson and Dangerfield both were named in the All-Australian team for that year, while Walker was the club's leading goalscorer for the second year running; his 63 goals were the most by a Crow since Tony Modra in 1997. Young key defender Daniel Talia became Adelaide's first ever Rising Star, having been nominated for his round 12 shutdown of St Kilda star Nick Riewoldt, while Sam Shaw was also nominated for the award.
At the end of the season Brad Symes was delisted and Chris Knights left as an unrestricted free agent to go to Richmond. During the trading period, Adelaide received ruckman Angus Graham from Richmond along with pick 54 in exchange for pick 42.
Also during the trading period, key forward Kurt Tippett requested a trade to Sydney, but this was denied when it emerged that Adelaide had offered money to Tippett outside of their salary cap (up to $200,000) and agreed to trade him to the club of his choice within his previous contract, signed at the end of 2009. As a result, the club was charged with eleven counts relating to salary cap regulation breaches and tampering with the draft. Prior to the AFL Commission hearing, Adelaide voluntarily forfeited their first two draft picks of the 2012 national draft, picks 20 and 54. At the hearing on 30 November 2014, the Crows were found guilty and fined $300,000, as well as losing their first and second round draft picks at the 2013 national draft. The Crows' CEO, Stephen Trigg, was fined $50,000 and banned from any club role for six months, while the general manager of football operations Phil Harper was suspended for two months and his predecessor John Reid was banned for 12 months. Tippett, who was drafted by Sydney in the pre-season draft with no compensation for Adelaide, was fined $50,000 and suspended for eleven matches. Tippett's own manager's accreditation was also revoked by the AFL Players' Association for a period of one year.
Without its first two draft picks, Adelaide's first pick in the 2012 draft was pick 62; they used this to select Sam Siggins, who ultimately did not play an AFL match in three years at the Crows. Kyle Hartigan was drafted with the club's first rookie draft pick, number 14.
The Crows suffered under the weight of expectations in an inconsistent 2013 season. Early in the season, key forward Taylor Walker injured his ACL, requiring a full reconstruction and a 12-month rehabilitation period. Walker's injury and Kurt Tippett's departure left the club without a proven key forward, and they struggled to regularly kick winning scores. Despite finishing the season promisingly with big victories over Melbourne and West Coast, Adelaide finished one win outside the top eight, in 11th place with ten wins and twelve losses. Their round 22 win over Melbourne was their final game at AAMI Stadium as the next year they would move to the remodelled, CBD-located Adelaide Oval.
During this year there was continual development of the Crows' young squad. Emerging midfielder Rory Sloane won the Malcolm Blight Medal from Richard Douglas, while Patrick Dangerfield was an All-Australian for the second year running. Tom Lynch led the club's goalscoring with 33 in 17 matches, including 10 goals in Adelaide's round 7 win over Greater Western Sydney; he became only the third player in Crows history to kick ten or more goals in a match. Sam Kerridge, Brad Crouch, Rory Laird and Luke Brown all received Rising Star nominations, the most Crows nominated in any season to date. Graham Johncock retired mid-season, while end-of-season delistings included Richard Tambling.
Having lost their first two draft picks due to the Tippett controversy the previous year, the Crows recruited aggressively over the off-season, securing veteran key forward James Podsiadly from Geelong in exchange for pick 64 and goalsneak Eddie Betts as a free agent from Carlton. The club also traded out former club champion Bernie Vince to Melbourne for pick 23 in the national draft. They used this pick to draft Matt Crouch, the younger brother of Brad, while Indigenous small forward Charlie Cameron was Adelaide's first rookie draft pick at 10.
The Crows sustained several injuries in the lead-up to the 2014 season. The most serious involved its captain, Nathan van Berlo, who ruptured his Achilles tendon during training. This sidelined him for the entire season, with Patrick Dangerfield and Rory Sloane acting as co-captains in his absence. Prior to the commencement of the regular season, strategy and innovation coach Dean Bailey died from lung cancer at the age of 47.
Adelaide lost their first three matches of the season, including heavy defeats to Port Adelaide and Sydney in their first two matches at Adelaide Oval. They won the next three, setting the tone for another inconsistent season. The move to Adelaide Oval paid dividends with a league-best average home crowd of 48,046, but performances on the field were poor as the club lost six out of twelve games at the venue. This ultimately proved costly as, for the second year running, the Crows narrowly missed the finals, this time finishing tenth with 11 wins and 11 losses.
Daniel Talia won the Malcolm Blight Medal in 2014 from Rory Sloane. Talia was also named at full-back in the All-Australian team, along with Brodie Smith on a half back flank. Eddie Betts led the goalscoring in his first year at Adelaide with a career-best 51 goals. Matt Crouch was nominated for the Rising Star award for his 28-possession effort against Greater Western Sydney in round 5. Long-time players Ben Rutten and Jason Porplyzia retired at the end of the 2014 season, with key defender Rutten kicking a goal – only the ninth of his career – with his final kick, in round 23 against St Kilda.
Adelaide did not take part in the 2014 trading period until the final minutes, when they obtained Kyle Cheney and Luke Lowden from Hawthorn amidst an exchange of draft picks (receiving 43, 47 and 59 in exchange for 31, 50 and 68). They then on-traded pick 47 along with their own pick 10 for Geelong's picks 14 and 35. In the draft they selected Jake Lever with their first pick at 14.
Shortly after the finish of the home-and-away season, on 17 September 2014, Brenton Sanderson was sacked as coach, with the club citing different perspectives on the team. Three weeks later, Port Adelaide assistant coach Phil Walsh was appointed as his replacement. On 14 January 2015, Taylor Walker was appointed the new captain of the Crows, replacing van Berlo ahead of widely tipped candidates Sloane and Dangerfield.
The 2015 season started successfully for the Adelaide Football Club with a 77-point win over reigning preliminary finalists North Melbourne. Adelaide won their first three games to sit top of the AFL ladder, before losing their next two setting up another inconsistent start to the season.
On 26 May 2015, the AFL launched an inquiry into Eddie Betts' signing with Adelaide after the 2013 season. This came after outgoing Carlton coach Mick Malthouse claimed to have been told by current Carlton and former Adelaide CEO Steven Trigg that Adelaide had illegally signed Betts 18 months prior to him departing Carlton. The club categorically denied the claim, as did Carlton and Betts' manager. Adelaide and Betts were subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing in the affair.
On 3 July, two days prior to Adelaide's then-scheduled round 14 match against Geelong, coach Phil Walsh was the victim of a domestic dispute and died from multiple stab wounds at the age of 55. The tragedy was followed by an outpouring of sympathy and tributes from the club's fans and the wider AFL community. The match against the Cats was cancelled, with both teams receiving two premiership points each. Adelaide's SANFL team's match against South Adelaide, scheduled for the next day, was postponed until later in the season. On 6 July, assistant coach Scott Camporeale was appointed interim coach for the remainder of the season, while West Coast premiership coach John Worsfold was hired as coaching director to support Camporeale.
The Crows returned to playing football in round 15 against West Coast at Domain Stadium, losing by 56 points. This loss saw Adelaide fall out of the top eight for the first time in the season, with a 7-6 win-loss record. However, the team rebounded to win six of their next seven games, culminating in a 57-point win over the Eagles in the return match, as they sealed their first finals appearance since 2012 with one round of the regular season to spare. Adelaide could have moved up to sixth place, hence earning a home elimination final, with a win over Geelong at Simonds Stadium, but they lost by 39 points, thus finishing 7th on the ladder with 13 wins, 8 losses and one abandoned game.
As per the AFL final eight system, the Crows faced the sixth-placed Western Bulldogs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the Second Elimination Final. The match, played on Saturday night, was a tight contest with neither side leading by more than 19 points at any stage, but a five-goal performance by Eddie Betts helped Adelaide to a 7-point win, 16.13 (109) to 14.18 (102). The victory earned Adelaide a Friday night Semi Final against reigning back-to-back premiers Hawthorn the following week at the same venue. Hawthorn dominated from start to finish to record a 21.9 (135) to 8.13 (61) victory; the 74-point margin was Adelaide's biggest ever loss in a final. The Hawks would go on to win their third consecutive premiership two weeks later.
Shortly after the conclusion of the season, star midfielder Patrick Dangerfield, a restricted free agent, announced his intention to return to Victoria, for family reasons. He finished his Adelaide career as a Malcolm Blight Medallist, winning the award from Rory Laird. Dangerfield (rover) and Eddie Betts (forward pocket) were both named in the All-Australian team; Betts led the club's goalkicking for the second straight year with 63, and kicked the AFL Goal of the Year against Fremantle in round 9 (fittingly, the AFL's Indigenous Round), kicking a left-foot torpedo punt from 50 metres out on the boundary line. Small forward Charlie Cameron and key defender Jake Lever were both nominated for the 2015 Rising Star award. Long-time Crow Brent Reilly retired mid-season, having suffered a career-ending and life-threatening fractured skull during pre-season training. James Podsiadly also retired, while Brodie Martin and Matthew Wright were notable delisted players.
Rather than allowing Dangerfield to leave as a free agent, Adelaide came to terms for a trade with his preferred club Geelong, trading Dangerfield and pick 50 for picks 9 and 26 and first-year player Dean Gore. Adelaide was an active player in the 2015 trade period besides the Dangerfield deal, obtaining Curtly Hampton (Greater Western Sydney) for a 2016 second-round pick, Paul Seedsman (Collingwood) for pick 32 and Troy Menzel (Carlton) for pick 28 and Sam Kerridge. In the draft Adelaide had two first round picks, ultimately picks 11 and 17 overall after the awarding of compensation picks and shifting due to academy selections. They used these picks to draft Wayne Milera and Tom Doedee respectively.
On October 9, Don Pyke, a former premiership player and assistant coach with West Coast who had also been an assistant coach at Adelaide from 2005 to 2006, was appointed Adelaide's senior coach for at least three years.
With the absence of Dangerfield, yet another new coach, a difficult draw and a perceived lack of squad depth, Adelaide was widely tipped to slide out of the finals in 2016. However, the Crows began the season well, navigating a run of difficult games to sit in seventh place at the bye with 8 wins and 4 losses. Their success was built largely on moving the ball quickly to create opportunities for their dangerous forward line: at that stage they were the highest-scoring team in the AFL and forward-line trio Taylor Walker, Eddie Betts and Josh Jenkins had kicked 99 goals between them and were all in the top 10 goalkickers in the AFL.
Entering the final round of the regular season, the Crows had the chance to secure a top-two finish, which would have guaranteed them two home finals, but suffered a costly 29-point loss to the West Coast Eagles at home; this defeat dropped them to fifth on the ladder. As per the mechanisms of the finals system, the club then hosted North Melbourne in its home elimination final, winning by 62 points, before having their season ended by the Sydney Swans at the Sydney Cricket Ground by 36 points in the semi-final the week after.
Adelaide currently has three guernsey designs which are used in different matches throughout the season.
The home guernsey features navy blue, red and gold hoops. It is worn at all matches designated as home games for the club as well as in selected away games and generally at all finals. There have been only four finals matches where it has not been used - against West Coast at Subiaco Oval in 2005 and twice against Hawthorn at Telstra Dome and the MCG in 2007 and 2012 respectively, and against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG in 2015. It has had minor variations through its history since debuting with the club in 1991, including adding a white outline to the numbers in 1996, and removing of yellow cuffs and addition of blue strips down the sides (due to manufacturers template design) in 2006. In 2009 the yellow cuffs and full hoops returned. In 2010 the hoops were cut off again at the sides vertically replaced with dark blue. for the 2016 AFL season the club has returned to complete hoops removing the side panels that cut through the hoops. This jumper is worn with navy shorts at all home games, and usually with white shorts in away games.
The clash guernsey is a predominantly white based design, worn in away games where their standard home guernsey may cause a clash of colours with the home team. It features three hoops around the sternum in the clubs colours of red, yellow and Navy blue, new for the 2016 season this guernsey more resembles the home strip rather than those of previous years.
The alternative guernsey is a predominately gold based design which is to be used in certain away games and possibly during the preseason. The design mirrors the Clash guernsey however instead of being white the base is gold.
In previous seasons, the Crows have had variations of alternate guernseys.
The club briefly used an alternate design in the pre-season competition. It was still in the club colours, but featured the club logo prominently on the front and continuing over onto the back.
The away guernsey was originally intended for use in all matches designated as away games, except finals. The design had changed several times over the years since it was first used in 1999. From 2006 the red was removed from the top of the guernsey, moving it closer to the home guernsey. Its usage had waned since the introduction of the "clash" guernsey, to the point where it was only used twice in 2007, against the Western Bulldogs in round 2 and Collingwood in round 22. In a few away matches that year, the club also continued to use the traditional "home" guernsey, something which had rarely been done since the away strip was introduced. In response to this, a new away guernsey was introduced in 2008 featuring more red and yellow with a flying crow on the front – similar in design to the mid-90s pre-season jumper.
The clash guernsey was first introduced for season 2006 and was radically different from the "home" and "away" designs at the time. It was worn at all away games where the AFL deemed there to be a clash with the home team's gunersey design. Those clubs officially on the "clash list" included Carlton, Essendon, Fremantle, Melbourne and Richmond. Despite this, the AFL forced the club to wear it against other teams, such as St Kilda and Hawthorn in 2007, Brisbane Lions (2008, 2009) and West Coast in 2008. The first clash Guernsey was red, and was worn from 2006-2009. The club first adopted a white clash Guernsey in 2010. It featured the club logo on the front with stylised curves in club colours on the front and back with navy stripes down the sides. It is worn with white shorts and the socks worn differ slightly from those with the home guernsey.
Membership base and sponsorship
In 2006, the club made history becoming the first club in VFL/AFL history to have more than 50,000 members. They broke that record in 2007, signing up 50,146 members after only round one of the season. The club failed to continue this record run and subsequently signed 48,720 members in 2008. The club has enjoyed a long-standing partnership with the Toyota Camry brand since its inception, leading the club to be known in promotional materials as the "Camry Crows".
Two-time Grand Slam tennis champion Lleyton Hewitt has been the club's number one ticket holder since December 2002. Federal politician Kate Ellis is the number 1 female ticket holder and Greg Champion, a musician and radio broadcaster, is the Melbourne number 1 ticket holder. Australian golfer Adam Scott is also an honorary member of the club. Australian musician Guy Sebastian is also a supporter of the crows.
"Team of the Decade"
While some sides named their "Team of the Century" to coincide with the AFL centenary celebrations in 1996, Adelaide only joined the league in 1991, and so later on named their "Team of the Decade", covering the period from 1991 to 2000. As well as earning selection in the team, Mark Ricciuto was named 'Player of the Decade' and Mark Bickley 'Team Man of the Decade.'
*Gary Ayres was told that his contract would not be extended when it expired after the 2004 season, and he decided to quit immediately. Assistant coach Neil Craig took over from round 14 as a caretaker coach and was later appointed senior coach for 2005 and beyond.
**Neil Craig resigned the day after a 103-point loss to St Kilda, allowing assistant coach Mark Bickley to coach the remaining six games in the season. Post-season, the club underwent a search for a new coach and hired Brenton Sanderson for the role from 2012.
***Phil Walsh died midway through his first year as coach, the victim of stab wounds in a domestic incident. Assistant coach Scott Camporeale was appointed interim coach for the remainder of the season. After the season, Don Pyke was appointed senior coach from 2016.
*Nathan van Berlo missed the entire 2014 season after injuring his right Achilles tendon in pre-season training. Rory Sloane and Patrick Dangerfield acted as co-captains during his absence.
See List of Adelaide Football Club players
AFL Women's team
In April 2016, the football club launched a bid to enter a team in the inaugural AFL Women's season in 2017. The bid was constructed in partnership with AFLNT with the club to share resources and facilities between its Adelaide base and AFLNT's Darwin location The bid became a success in June of that year when the league announced they had been awarded one of eight inaugural licences.
Chelsea Randall and Kellie Gibson were the club's first two signings, announced as marquee players on 27 July 2016. The innuagural team list was completed in October's signing and drafting period.
Former Woodville-West Torrens development coach Bec Goddard was announced as the team's inaugural head coach in August 2016.
Harris Scarfe are the team's major sponsor in season 2017.
The team is expected to play home games in Adelaide and Darwin in 2017.
The Adelaide Crows entered a team in the local South Australian National Football League in 2014 under a 15-year commitment. The team is made up of AFL senior listed players and SANFL top up players.