In the early 1990’s, the opening round of the AFL season produced some outstanding performances, from an individual and at a team level, but none were better than some of the early efforts from the Adelaide Crows.
The newly created ‘Pride of South Australia’ entered AFL ranks at the start of the 1991 season, and in their very first match in the national league in front of almost 45,000 fans at Football Park, the Crows opened with a powerhouse demolition of Hawthorn to the tune of 86 points. Andrew Jarman became the first Crow to poll maximum Brownlow Votes for his 29 disposal effort, while John Klug, ex-Cat Bruce Lindner and Peter McIntyre each kicked four goals for the winners.
Later that season, the Hawks would go on to claim the AFL premiership in the only AFL Grand Final to be played at Waverley Park, while the Crows would finish in a creditable ninth position, with a 10-12 record. However, long-time Crows fans will always remember the night they entered the AFL scene with a bang.
Two years later, the Crows were at their very best to open a season again, this time against the hapless Tigers at the MCG.
Led by new sensation Tony Modra at full-forward, the Crows smashed the Tigers, who were coming off a Fosters Cup Grand Final loss by 94 points. Modra starred in front of goal bagging 10 in just his ninth senior game, while skipper Chris McDermott collected 37 touches in the Crows perfect start to, what would become a mostly successful, but ultimately unfulfilled 1993 season.
The very next year, Adelaide met Carlton in the opening round of season 1994, this time at Football Park, and didn’t the Crows give the 1993 runners-up a decent touch up.
Adelaide kept the Blues scoreless in the second term and powered away to a 76-point demolition of the Kernahan-less Carlton side. Just like the previous year, Tony Modra was sublime in front of goal, kicking an opening round VFL/AFL record haul of 13.3, with many of these coming on full back of the century in Stephen Silvagni.
However, this win proved to be a false dawn for the ’94 Crows as they unexpectedly missed the finals, ultimately leading to the sacking of inaugural coach Graham Cornes at the end of the season, with his replacement being ex-Fitzroy coach Robert Shaw.
The opening round of 1996 saw the Crows at their very best again, this time compiling a 90-point touch up of the Sydney Swans. With Darren Jarman crossing from Hawthorn to the Crows after the 1995 season, this was the first time he would play alongside brother Andrew at senior AFL level, and the brothers excelled, collecting 47 disposals and kicking five goals between them. On this Sunday evening at Football Park, the Crows got the job done early, holding the Swans scoreless in the first term, and led 12.6 to 1.0 at half time, before cruising away with a 20.10 (130) to 6.4 (40) win.
However, the fortunes of the two sides would turn severely by the end of the 1996 season. Sydney finished as minor premier before falling to North Melbourne in the Grand Final, while Adelaide would slump from second spot on the ladder after Round 8, winning just two of its last 14 games to finish in 12th place. Of course the very next year would see things turn around at West Lakes with the arrival of Malcolm Blight as coach, but that’s a whole ‘nother story…….