Adelaide Football Club (SAFA)

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Adelaide SAFA logo.jpg
Full name Adelaide Football Club
Club details
Founded 26 April 1860
Dissolved 1893; 124 years ago (1893)
Colours      black,      red, and      white
Competition Intraclub 1860-1862
Unaffliliated 1862-1876
SAFA 1877-1881, 1885-1893
Premierships 1886
Ground(s) Adelaide Oval

The Adelaide Football Club was an Australian rules football club, based in Adelaide, that played in the South Australian Football Association (SAFA) from 1877–81 and 1885–93, winning the SAFA premiership in 1886. The club bears no relation to the present Adelaide Football Club playing in the Australian Football League.


1860: Formation at Globe Inn Hotel, Rundle Street[edit]

The club was founded at the Globe Inn Hotel, Rundle Street (c. 1860)

The Adelaide Football Club was formed on Thursday 26 April 1860 at the Globe Inn Hotel, Rundle Street with John Brodie Spence chairing the meeting.[1] It was the first in South Australia, and initially only played matches internally: North (of the River Torrens) v. South. J. B. Spence led one side and John Acraman the other. The first such match was played on the North Parklands on Saturday 28 April 1860.[2] The club had its own game rules. The first recorded match against a rival club was played in 1862 against the Modbury Football Club on a strip of grass near the Modbury Hotel. Adelaide won the game two goals to nil.[3] The two teams met again the next year, and "the game was kept up with the greatest spirit and good feeling, and so equally were the sides matched that not a goal was obtained".[4]

1873-1876: Exile over the games rules[edit]

Adelaide stopped playing games against other clubs in 1873 after the Kensington club rules became popular amongst the other clubs at the time but resumed playing games against other clubs in the 1876 season.

1877: SAFA foundation club[edit]

In 1877 Adelaide captain Nowell Twopenney was influential in establishing the South Australian Football Association (SAFA), and the club was one of the founding members of the SAFA (now the SANFL). In the SAFA's original season, Adelaide finished third, winning ten, losing three and drawing three of its 16 matches, and finishing with a goal differential of 18. Adelaide finished fifth out of seven teams in each of the next two seasons, and last in 1880.

1881-1884: Merger with Kensington and temporary dissolution[edit]

The team's poor performances on and off-field forced the club to merge with Kensington for the 1881 season due to a lack of players. These problems continued, forcing the combined team to resign from the competition on June 1st 1881 after playing four matches, with a fifth being forfeited when the team failed to appear. [5] During the years 1882 to 1884, the club did not play in the SAFA.

1885: SAFA Re-entry, Premiers and wins over Carlton and British Lions[edit]

1886 SAFL premiership W L D Goals
Adelaide SAFA design.jpg Adelaide 9 5 1 54

The club was re-formed before the 1885 season, combining with Adelaide and Suburban Football Association (ASFA) club North Park to again field a team in the SAFA. The new team finished last out of four teams in 1885, but surprised much of the competition to claim the SAFA premiership in 1886 under the captaincy of J. D. Stephens.

Adelaide was involved in an experimental night game played under electric lights at Adelaide Oval on 1 July 1885. It beat South Adelaide 1 goal 8 behinds to 8 behinds.

Adelaide finished third out of seven teams in each of the next three seasons, also playing matches against the visiting Victorian Football Association (VFA) premiers Carlton in 1887, winning nine goals to three, and against a visiting British team in 1888, winning six goals to three.

1890-1893: Rapid decline and final dissolution[edit]

After the triumphs of 1886 and 1887, very poor management led to the defection of many of the key members of the 1886 premiership team.

By the 1890s, the club was the chopping block of the SAFA, struggling to field a team, and won three successive wooden spoons from 1891-1893, with records of 0-16, 0-15-1 and 1-15 in those seasons, including a winless streak of 40 matches between 1890-93.

These on-field performances and the club's insolvency meant that Adelaide dropped out of the SAFA and folded at the end of the 1893 season.[5]



  • 1886

Leading goalkickers[edit]

  • 1877: John Young (14 goals)
  • 1886: Richard Stephens (17 goals)


  1. ^ "Adelaide Foot Ball Club". Adelaide Observer. 1860-04-28. p. 8. Retrieved 2015-10-17. 
  2. ^ "Football". South Australian Register. 1860-04-30. p. 2. Retrieved 2015-10-17. 
  3. ^ "Australian Football - Modbury Football Club - Stats". Retrieved 2015-06-25. 
  4. ^ Adelaide (original): footnote 4 - FullPointsFooty. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
  5. ^ a b Adelaide (original) - FullPointsFooty. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
Preceded by
South Adelaide
SAFA Premiers
Succeeded by