Home » Adelaide footy players and leaders answer call to arms after historic 516-point defeat

Adelaide footy players and leaders answer call to arms after historic 516-point defeat

Tim Young’s wife delivered him a stark home truth when he came home last Sunday night to let her know he would be taking on a new role he would not get a dime for.

“She said, ‘How’s it feel to be the footy director of the worst football club in Australia?'” he chuckled.

But they breed them tough in Elizabeth in Adelaide’s northern suburbs and he had a quickfire reply.

“My answer to that is, it’ll feel pretty bloody good when we turn it around,” he said.

Tim Young was appointed as football director for the Eagles.(ABC News)

Young had answered a call to arms after the once mighty Elizabeth Eagles had been crushed on the field by 516 points in Division 6 of the Adelaide Footy League.

Their opponents Fitzroy had scored 82 goals, with one player bagging 29 goals, while keeping the Eagles scoreless.

They had also been trounced in the preceding three rounds, but this was rock bottom and made national headlines.

The mammoth loss came as a blow for former Port Lincoln and Northern Territory player and new recruit Locky McFarlane.

“I was a bit sad for sure, it’s a bit disappointing,” he said at training. 

“It was a bit shattering, but the boys try hard all day, the scoreline shouldn’t have looked like that. 

“[It] didn’t reflect the effort we put in.”

A man in a black and yellow footy jersey next to an oval.

Locky McFarlane was recruited to the Elizabeth Football Club this season from Port Lincoln.(ABC News: Camron Slessor)

An exodus of players amidst off field club mismanagement left Elizabeth vulnerable before the season started and officials had tried at the last minute to move to a lower division.

Fast forward four weeks and the Eagles were reeling, but it was hitting crisis point that may actually save the club.

As well as Young, former premiership captain Matt Switala came on board as coach.

“When you see what’s been happening it’s pretty obvious that if you’re a proud Elizabeth past player or supporter or whatever it is, you just had the urge,” he said.

“You need to help out the club out, you can’t see a club that means so much to you struggling so much.”

He was not the only one, with around 20 players signing up for a club that has not even been able to field a B-grade side.

A footy player catches a footy in front of an opponent during a match

Jarrad Upton returned to play after the team suffered a crushing defeat last week.(ABC News: Angus Paterson)

They included former A-grade player and junior Jarrad Upton.

“Seeing the results has made a lot of us boys realise, to come back and help the club get back to that successful area again and try and build the future back up again here for the juniors,” he said.

Season-best performance against Adelaide Lutheran 

After a week of publicity that included offers of guest playing stints by the likes of former Gold Coast Sun and Carlton ruck Daniel Gorringe, how did they fare in the only place that matters in suburban footy?

It’s Saturday 2:15pm and the Eagles are facing fellow Division 6 struggler Adelaide Lutheran in the city’s picturesque surrounds.

Switala was still getting to know players names as he addressed them pre-game in the spartan visitors change rooms.

“You are being watched so, when your playing footy today don’t play any differently to what you do, cause I’m backing you all in,” he told them.

A man speaking to a group of football players on an oval

Former A-grade premiership captain Matt Switala (second right) returned to coach Elizabeth Football Club. (ABC News: Matthew Smith)

They ran out on a glorious sunny day cheered on by a contingent of Eagles supporters so big, the Bulldogs officials were left ruing not firing up the barbecue.

The match began evenly, however it was the Dogs who scored first.

For Elizabeth it was about the little victories and when Jesse Cornish kicked truly in the opening term, the Eagles were flying high.

There was to be no victory, that was never going to happen.

Adelaide Lutheran had the lead to 83 points by half-time, 124 points with a quarter to go and a final margin of 167 points.

But the Eagles’ four goals was their highest of the season and they walked off the ground with their heads once again held high, cheered on by their swelling ranks of supporters.

a footy player hits the ball out of the way as his opponent reaches up to grab it

Elizabeth Eagles played against Adelaide Lutheran on Saturday.(ABC News: Angus Paterson)

“They lost probably four or five to injury early in the game, but they all toughed it out, they got through,” Switala said as he walked off.

“Four goals, they hadn’t kicked that for the year, so it’s a positive.”

Avoiding relegation is the furthest thing from his mind as he plots to help the Eagles again find their wings.

“It’s just about laying those foundations, getting that culture back and making people want to be a part of the footy club and then hopefully results will take care of themselves later on,” he said.

Football director Tim Young has no doubts.

“100 per cent we’re in for the long haul, we’ve been here for 68 years, we’ll be here for 68 more,” he promised.

Hope springs eternal and Elizabeth has already turned its thoughts to next Saturday’s home clash against Central United, which is winless as well and second bottom on the ladder.