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History of Crows in finals

Greg Anderson of the Crows in action during the 1993 AFL 1st Elimination Final between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Adelaide Crows at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Greg Anderson of the Crows in action during the 1993 AFL 1st Elimination Final between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Adelaide Crows at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Adelaide will play its 30th final this weekend. We rewind through the Club’s first 25 seasons and review the first 12 finals campaigns ...

 

It took only three seasons for Adelaide to earn a spot in the AFL finals for the first time.

The 1993 series took the team and fans through an array of experiences, from securing the spot in the last minor round with a win over Collingwood, beating 1991 premiers Hawthorn in the first elimination final at the MCG, losing to Carlton and then wasting a 42-point lead at half-time of the preliminary final against Essendon.

After the excitement of 1993, expectations were high but the Crows failed to make the finals in the next three years and it cost two coaches – Graham Cornes and Robert Shaw – their jobs.

The first two seasons under Malcolm Blight, however, produced stunning finals results. The club only lost one game from eight finals appearances on the way to winning the 1997 and 1998 flags. And only two of these finals were played at home.

In 1997, Adelaide started from fourth spot and won four consecutive games, reaching the grand final on the back of a sensational comeback preliminary final win over the Western Bulldogs.

The following year Adelaide finished fifth and lost the first week of the finals to Melbourne before making the most of a second chance with away wins over Sydney, the Western Bulldogs (again in the preliminary final) and North Melbourne.

It would be three years before the Crows were back in the finals. This time, under coach Gary Ayres, Adelaide copped a 68-point hiding from Carlton in the first elimination final.

Adelaide finished the 2002 minor round in third spot and after a 71-point loss to Brisbane at the Gabba, was forced to play its next two finals ‘away’ at the MCG. It won the first – a thriller against Melbourne – but then went down to Collingwood by 28 points in the preliminary final.

The 2003 finals campaign kicked off with a big win over West Coast at AAMI Stadium but the Crows then ran straight into the powerful Brisbane side at home.

After a slump in 2004, new coach Neil Craig guided Adelaide to the minor premiership in his first full season. But the value of finishing top was lost in the opening week of the finals when St Kilda upset the Crows by eight points. Adelaide responded with a stunning 83-point win over Port but then had to travel to Perth for the preliminary final and lost to the Eagles by 16 points.

Adelaide secured a safer passage through the start of the 2006 finals - coming from behind at the last change to beat Fremantle at West Lakes - but again lost to West Coast in a preliminary final despite this time hosting the Eagles and leading by 22 points at half-time.

Lance Franklin’s seventh goal with only seconds left eliminated Adelaide in the first week of the 2007 finals, at Docklands, and there was another quick departure in 2008 when Collingwood came to AAMI Stadium and won by 31 points.

A crushing 16-goal home win over Essendon gave fifth-placed Adelaide a flying start to the 2009 finals but there was heartbreak the next week, when Collingwood kicked a late goal to win the first semi-final by five points.

Adelaide returned to the finals – again under a first-year coach (Brenton Sanderson) – in 2012.

After winning 17 of 22 minor round games to finish second, the Crows recovered from a home loss in the first week against eventual premiers Sydney to reach a preliminary final with a 10 point win over Fremantle at AAMI Stadium.

More pain was on the way, however, with Adelaide snatching the lead late in the prelim at the MCG before Hawthorn hit back to win by five points. 

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs