BMX world champion and Olympic silver medallist Sam Willoughby never had a choice who he would barrack for growing up in Adelaide.
“I came into the world in 1991, so the same time as the Club, and by that time mum and dad were on the Crows bandwagon,” he said.
“Through the 1990s we were the only team in Adelaide for the most part and our Thursday night treat as kids used to be being allowed to stay up late and watch The Footy Show on TV.
“My fondest memories would be 1997, when we went to every final that year - the qualifying final against West Coast and semi-final against Geelong at Footy Park, the preliminary final against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG and the grand final against St Kilda the next week.
“It was like the ultimate fan experience that year and we still have all the T-shirts and the merch and stuff from the grand final.
"The following year when we went back-to-back we didn’t go to the grand final but we had a massive party, we decorated the house like it was Christmas and had everyone over to watch it.”
Now aged 29 and living in the US with his wife Alise, who is preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, Willoughby’s BMX career was cut short by a training accident shortly after the 2016 Games which paralysed him from the chest down.
But he is still involved in the sport as a coach and follows the Crows and the AFL as closely as ever from abroad.
“The last four years even more so, since the technology has improved. I buy the ‘Watch AFL’ app every year and watch everything – pretty much all of the games and the shows during the week – and I think Australia does talkback radio really well so I’ve always missed that,” he said.
“But now all the shows like Roo & Ditts (on Triple M) and even some of the Melbourne ones are podcasts as well, so I download them each morning and listen like I’m there.
“Moving over here, the thing I missed the most was the banter during the week and debating the ins and outs of the team, so this way I still get to feel a part of that.
“When I won my first world title in Birmingham, a couple of hours before the race I went over to my dad’s hotel room and watched the Crows versus Collingwood game that night and it was the perfect way to get my mind off the race.”
Willoughby has also revealed that he and Alise are planning to move to Adelaide permanently after the Tokyo Games.
“I can’t wait to get back to Adelaide and be part of it again, especially now with the atmosphere at Adelaide Oval,” he said.
“Alise is pretty keen on moving back as well so we will do that after the Tokyo Olympics.
"We’ve bought a block of land up near mum and dad so we’re in the process of getting the plans together.
"It got put on hold a bit with Covid and the Olympics getting pushed back a bit, and logistically it’s going to be a big move but that’s the plan and we’re looking forward to it.”