More than 6000 people from all over the state travelled to Strathalbyn on Sunday, February 25 to watch the Adelaide Crows take on the Fremantle Dockers in the first pre-season JLT match for 2018.
The Crows opened their 2018 campaign with a ten point win over the Dockers in a nail-biting finish.
Following the match, Crows forward Andy Otten told The Times the team’s comeback showed great fight.
“We got some good game time in for some youngsters that haven’t played before so I think we’re in a good position,” he said.
Otten said he was impressed by youngsters Lachlan Murphy and Harry Dear, as well Tom Doedee, Alex Keith and Matt Signorello.
He said the team loved getting out to the country.
“I think we had a really strong crowd today and it’s good to get a bit more personal… you can hear some of the heckles from the crowd which are pretty funny,” he said.
For Strathalbyn Football Club president Brenton Smith, hosting two national teams in their backyard would forever be a magnificent part of the club’s history.
“There was a real buzz around the place all day and I think everyone was just in awe of having the game in Strathalbyn,” he said.
“We hardly had any negative comments… it was such a great atmosphere.”
Without the incredible efforts of the 180-plus volunteers, Mr Smith said the match would not have run the way it did.
“It’s not an easy job to put on something like this so its a real credit to everyone involved,” he said.
He said the match truly put the township on the map.
“There was an incredible number of people who stopped in the town and visited a range of businesses so it’s great for the town, the region and for Great Southern footy,” he said.
The match was the club’s first opportunity to really showcase its new $2.4 million facilities.
“It was great to show what we’ve got… a lot of the Crows players were ecstatic about the quality of our oval and compared it to some of the best they’ve played on,” he said.
“It was a great sense of achievement and it was just the start of something bigger for us.”
President of the Great Southern Football League Gordon Tonkin said the event kicked off the league’s 2018 season in style.
“It was good promotion for our league and it was a great opportunity to showcase our academy and our women’s league before and after the AFL match,” he said.
“It was a real credit to the Strathalbyn footy club for hosting it too.”