What I Love About My Team In 2024 – Adelaide Crows

Love is a beautiful thing. It’s what makes the world go round. We’re all looking for love in our lives, and some are lucky enough to have found it.

Before we begin, I should provide some context. Avid readers will know by now that I have been a Hawthorn supporter for 25 years. Hard-core Matt Oman fans (and don’t those words send shudders down the spine) will also know of my undying love and adoration for a certain #9 from Alberton. So it might boggle the mind why I chose to write so lovingly about the Crows, a team that has caused me more than enough grief in the last two decades.

It’s quite simple, really.

As the Mongrel’s only South Australian, I feel that I am the most qualified to speak about the men from West Lakes, given how much I hear about them on a daily basis. Furthermore, two of my good mates (looking at you Joel and Adam) are rusted-on Crows members, so I regularly cop it from the two of them whenever Adelaide does a number on my Hawks.

So let us get stuck right in. This is what I love about the Crows in season 2024.



On paper, it’s the Crows’ weakest link. For all their talent further afield, Adelaide doesn’t seem to enjoy that out-and-out superstar worshiped by mainstream media. Think Darcy Moore. Harris Andrews. James Sicily. Jack Sinclair.
But as a collective, not only should they be receiving more love, I believe they’re more than capable of propelling the Crows to the big time.

They’ve got the future star in the composed beyond his years Max Michalanney. Josh Worrell has improved out of sight in the last two seasons. Chayce Jones has found his place at half-back. Mitch Hinge became a huge asset with his toughness. Brodie Smith still has his moments of brilliance and is a calming voice for the young brigade.

And that’s just the flanks and pockets. Where Adelaide should be most proud is their tall stocks, which until the drafting of Daniel Curtin, resembled a who’s who of no-names plucked from virtual obscurity. Jordon Butts was the first to arrive, and I think he’s the best of the bunch. Always tasked with nullifying the best key forward their opposition possesses, Butts has been a diamond in the rough from day one, when he had to take over from Daniel Talia when he went down with what became a career-ending injury. Nick Murray came to the club in the 2021 pre-season and has slotted into the backline so effortlessly since he arrived. Initially brought in as cover for the injured Tom Doedee,

Murray cemented his place even when the more fancied Doedee returned, and despite being on the comeback trail from his own ACL tear, Murray carries even more responsibility with Doedee’s departure.

Then there’s Irishman Mark Keane, who has barely been around for a cup of coffee, but in a very short time, he’s become a vital cog in the rotation. When Murray tore his ACL, the Crows called Keane up from the SANFL, and his Adelaide debut came in a must-win Showdown for the Crows. The pressure couldn’t have been higher, and Keane took it all in stride, playing a pivotal role in his side’s victory. The last of the quartet is the least known of the bunch, but he may have had the most immediate impact of the foursome. James Borlase seemed destined to stay in the SANFL forever, but he was kept on the list as a “break glass in case of emergency” defender, who could also play as an undersized ruckman. Murray was already on the sidelines, Butts succumbed to a foot issue, and with the Crows key defensive stocks decimated, Borlase was thrown a debut, and he was absolutely superb.

By now you should’ve seen a pattern forming. All four names I have mentioned came in when someone else went down with an injury, and each one performed well beyond expectations, so much so that you could mount a case for all four to be included in Adelaide’s best 22 when realistically only two of the four can be included at any one time. It’s players like this that make football clubs. We can talk all day about the superstars, the medal winners, those who appear in glitzy commercials promoting the latest in coffee technology or recovery supplements, but it’s those who simply go about their business that the fabric of a successful team comes from. In Butts, Murray, Keane, and Borlase, Adelaide has a key defensive unit that is capable of taking them a long way this year. And you wouldn’t even know it if you walked past them while strolling through Rundle Mall.



This one is a little different because it’ll require a little keener of an eye. But in 2024, every Adelaide fan should get themselves to whichever state league oval the Crows are playing at as often as they can, just to get a glimpse of what the future holds. Such is the talent that father-son prospect Tyler Welsh possesses. Welsh has moved from Woodville West-Torrens to West Lakes to accelerate his development in his draft year, and I see big things from the 17-year-old this year.

This feels like Taylor Walker way back in 2008. Playing for Norwood, Walker spent all year tearing the SANFL to shreds, kicking 58 goals, including seven in an Elimination final victory. It was that performance that sealed it for Crows fans, demanding that Walker be a walk-up start for the Crows in Round 1 of the next season. And 15 years later, it feels like history is set to repeat itself for the son of Scott.

Still, Welsh is only just 17 years old, and to compare him to Adelaide’s greatest key forward might seem like too much too soon. Crows fans should hope that Welsh features in most, if not all of Adelaide’s SANFL games, and if can command the mantle of number one target, kick 35+ goals, and make his presence felt in the contest, everyone at West Lakes should feel comfortable that they have another future star of the competition on their hands, as long they play their cards right.



Like many others, I have been a huge fan of Tex Walker’s resurgence in the last few seasons. But has that come at the expense of Darcy Fogarty and Riley Thilthorpe’s development? Sure, Fogarty has kicked 67 goals in the last two seasons, and Thilthorpe spends time in the ruck, but at 24 and 21 years old respectively, both players should’ve produced more than they ultimately have.

But their time is now. As much as we all love the Texan, it’s time for others to carry the load. All reports suggest that both have been flying on the training track, and while I understand that phrase has become stupidly overused during pre-season, it should nevertheless give Crows fans hope that their two big young key forwards can finally reach their potential.

Both should start fully commanding the forward line. I’m not saying they should force Tex out, but at 33 years old, Tex needs to start playing a supporting role to let Fogarty and Thilthorpe shine. Because let’s be honest. Tex’s resurgence came at the expense of the other two’s development. Yes, it’s been fantastic to see Tex finally get the recognition he more than deserves, but unless Adelaide salutes in the next two seasons, Taylor Walker is not in the Crows’ next premiership team. I’m sorry, but it’s the truth.

I’d like to see Fogarty fully embrace the bullocking key forward role he’s been groomed for, and kick 60 goals in 2024. I’d like to see Thilthorpe throw his weight around all over the ground, both in the forward line and as the supporting ruckman, and kick 35-40 goals. And as for the Texan? If he can move himself up the ground, use his lethal field kicking to his advantage, take a key defender away from Fog and Filthy, and contribute 25-30 goals along the way, that’d be about as perfect a scenario as you could imagine.



The three mainstays in Adelaide’s midfield have been Rory Sloane, Matt Crouch, and Rory Laird. Three veterans that have been consistently brilliant over a long period of time. But there’s one problem. All three are almost the same player. Tough, contested beasts, but severely lacking in one key area.


It’s no secret that Adelaide’s midfield is slower than a wet week in the middle of winter. Jordan Dawson’s arrival helped a little, but he hasn’t been known for his blistering pace at any point in his career. And let’s be honest, Adelaide needs to completely revamp its entire setup in the middle, so as not to rely so heavily on its veterans.

It’s why I’m very excited that a potential move has been floated for one of the Crows’ most prized forward-line diamonds. But Izak Rankine could be the explosive dynamo that the Crows have been craving. He’s been getting more midfield minutes during match simulations at training, and I can see Matthew Nicks using him at the start of quarters to give Adelaide a spark moving the ball forward, then “resting” him inside 50, and letting his craftsmanship around goal do all the talking.



But it’s not just Rankine that will have everyone’s tongues wagging. Since bottoming out in 2020, and after too many blunders in the draft in the mid-2010s, Adelaide has quickly and quietly built a strong list full of exuberant youngsters ready to take the game on and prove themselves worthy.

Wayne Milera can’t get a decent run at it thanks to injury, but he could be the heir to the Paul Seedsman wing throne with his speed and lethal kicking skills. Luke Pedlar has made significant strides, and suddenly his draft number (#11 in 2020) looks accurate. Josh Rachele has improved in the pre-season as a midfielder, after not quite making it his own in 2023.

Sam Berry is becoming a forgotten man at West Lakes, but we shouldn’t forget that at his best, this is a tackling machine capable of taking over the midfield spot currently held by Rory Laird. Jake Soligo needs to work on his consistency, but he showed something last year, and he is becoming a fan favourite thanks to his glorious mullet and penchant for sneaking a crafty goal. Harry Schoenberg has been in and out of the side and spent time as the medical, but he dominates the level below, almost to the point that he looks too good for state league football. And that’s not even mentioning the likes of Luke Nankervis, Lachlan Gollant, Brayden Cook, Patrick Parnell, Lachie Sholl, and Ned McHenry. With so much young talent, this club has set itself up for a Geelong-like period of sustained success.



This is just a quick one. But when Adelaide announced its eight-man leadership group, there were some questions about the size of the group, as well as the names involved. Dawson is a fantastic skipper, and the three vice-captains, Ben Keays, Reilly O’Brien, and Brodie Smith have all established themselves as strong leaders within the playing group.
But it’s the four new additions that everyone should be the most proud of.

Despite his injury concerns, Wayne Milera has always been a source of positivity around the track, and you can see his leadership shine through whether he’s playing or not. Lachlan Murphy is a Cinderella story of persistence, spending years on the rookie list, and grinding his way to almost 100 games. Mitch Hinge is a “follow-me” type of player, leading his teammates through actions, not words. Then there’s the much-maligned Darcy Fogarty, who in 79 games, is still yet to fully establish himself as a 50+ goal-kicking key forward, but even through his form fluctuations and fitness concerns, there’s never been a question about Fogarty’s love for this club and the effort he puts in to make everyone around him better.


Even though I’m not a Crows person, I predict big things for this team in 2024. I think if they get everything together, Adelaide is capable of challenging for the premiership. Maybe that’s a bold prediction, given they missed finals in 2023 (and no, I won’t go into the reason they missed finals, it’s been done to death and it’s old news), but there’s enough talent and depth to make a significant run. They got the steal of the draft, a bold new game plan revolving around speed and ball movement, and more than their fair share of universally loved figures.

After everything they’ve been through, this club deserves to thrive again. And I can’t wait to see it.