A Draft Night in Adelaide

Apparently this was the second time Adelaide had hosted the AFL Draft. I’d been reminded earlier in the day that we were granted the honour back in 1997. It was held at the Football Park function centre and I don’t remember it being open to the public. Which turned out to be a huge missed opportunity for the League – people would’ve paid good money to see the reaction on Graham Cornes’ face when Port Adelaide selected his son Chad at pick number nine.

Jokes aside, this year’s event was open to the public and free – which is a good thing. With tight-arse Tuesday at Piccadilly Cinema its only real competition, it was well attended, with at least six of the eight tickets permitted when booking being utilised. And to use a few Dave Brown terms, there were definitely more ‘Adelads’ than ‘Adeladies’ in the crowd.

In an effort to make it look like this Draft thing has a long history steeped in tradition, the room was adorned with large banners of every number one draft pick since 1987. Before the Draft was invented you just rocked up at your nearest club to work a few weeks before the season started (from what I understand).

Perhaps they were there to remind prospective draftees that being picked first doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be a success.

Richard Lounder, picked first in 1987 by Richmond, played just 4 games. So few games that there are no known photos of him in an actual Tigers guernsey. Which can be the only explanation why his banner featured him jogging in a chesty Bonds singlet, perhaps while doing a pre-season at Punt Road?

The banners also reminded us that club recruiters didn’t really know what they were doing until 1992. Drew Banfield was selected by West Coast that year and went on to become the first number one draft pick to play over 200 games. In fact between 1987 to 1991 no number one pick even cracked 50 games.

Fortunately for the credibility of this number one thing, Martin Leslie (the number one, number one) at least passed the 100 games milestone.

Anyway, the actual Draft itself was a bit strange. Half the crowd left after the Crows had made their second pick, with what was left leaving after Port had made their first two selections. At times there seemed to be three different things going on, and it became pretty clear that we were watching an event produced for TV, which in the end probably explains why it was free.

About Mike Hugo

Occasional contributor, illustrator of Footy Places and other things (see my web store below).


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Hey Mike – Maybe you could do the Football Park Function Centre as the first in your new series of “Lost Adelaide Wedding Venues” t-shirts

  2. Sounds like a weird night, Mike. Each banner tagged with “All things must pass” at the bottom? Judging by Gill’s reception I suspect a few Adelads had paid a visit to an Adelpub beforehand to get Adeld.

  3. Is everything an “event” these days? Crickey, even when it rains the weatherman/woman calls it a “rain event”. Why is the trading in male footy meat amongst the corporate giants called football clubs an event? Before long there will be a glitzy night held to announce the umpires who have been elevated up to AFL level – complete with red carpet entrance. Its bad enough that the TV stations indulge in calling their employees “stars” and hold an awards (Logies) night.

    I’m over events.

  4. Nice work Mike. I like the idea of yearling sales for footballers. Should put a lead around their necks and have them led around the sale ring. Give Gillon a gavel “What am I bid for this strapping colt by a Liston Medallist out of an Olympic basketballer, closely related on the dam line to a VFL 200 gamer………………….”
    Like high priced thoroughbred yearlings – many break down in the fetlock, are crazy, don’t try or are just slow and don’t develop as hoped.
    I always remember Bert Bryant on the old Turf Talk when someone waxed lyrical about a young horse’s breeding would say “and Johnny Weismuller’s sister drowned”.

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