Of the thousands of footy fans who used to trek to Footy Park to watch the Crows in their formative years, they weren’t to know that one starry-eyed kid sitting among them in the stands was en route to becoming the No.1 tennis player in the world.
Lleyton Hewitt was just 10 when the Crows entered the AFL competition in 1991 and, living in West Lakes, it was only natural that he became a passionate supporter.
“As a proud South Australian it was a great chance to support a local team in the highest competition,” Hewitt said.
“As a young kid living in West Lakes I could walk to Football Park to watch the Crows play any home games with my parents and loved sitting amongst the passionate 45,000 screaming Crows fans.
“My two favourite Crows of all-time were Darren Jarman and Tyson Edwards.
"Jars was one of the most skillful players to play in the competition and a real match winner and Tyson was one of the most underrated players to play in the AFL competition and gave such a consistent performance week-in, week-out.”
By 1998 Hewitt had launched his international tennis career, winning the Next Generation Adelaide International by beating Andre Agassi and Jason Stoltenberg in the semi-final and final, and by 2001 he was ranked No.1 in the world.
That year he also won his first Grand Slam singles title at the US Open and a Wimbledon crown followed in 2002, and he would go on to become Australia’s most successful Davis Cup player in history.
But all the while travelling the world, Hewitt never lost touch with the Crows and his passion for the Club never dimmed.
“My favourite game would have to be the 1997 grand final, playing our first grand final and being able to beat the more fancied St Kilda under the legend Malcolm Blight,” he said.
“And my current favourite Crow would have to be Rory Sloane, I love how professional and dedicated he is and how the team always comes first.
“My kids all barrack for the Crows – they didn’t get a choice. Cruz, my 12-year-old son, is a passionate Crows supporter who loves to go to as many games as possible.
“I watch as much as I can online when I am overseas travelling, it’s not that easy with the different time zones but I will always set the alarm and find a way to watch and support the boys.”