Adelaide City Football Club is a soccer club based in Adelaide, South Australia. The club was known historically as Juventus — the original name given to the club by its founders in Adelaide's Italian community.
Adelaide City is one of Australia's most decorated sides, having been crowned national champion three times. City became one of the founding members of the National Soccer League in 1977, Australia's first national competition of any football code. Only two clubs (South Melbourne and Marconi) have spent more time in the top tier of Australian soccer since national competition began. City competed in the now-defunct NSL for 27 seasons, winning its first title in 1986 under legendary coach Zoran Matić. The club went on to win two more championships under Matić in 1992 and 1994. During its national league stint, City also won the NSL Cup three times – more than any other club – achieving a league/cup double in 1992. In 1987, it became the first Australian club in history to win a continental title when it claimed the Oceania Club Championship.
Adelaide City has historically been one of the most prolific producers of players selected for the Australian national team, with the club providing the third most Socceroos of any NSL club behind Marconi and South Melbourne; notable Adelaide City players who have gone on to represent Australia include John and Ross Aloisi, Aurelio and Tony Vidmar, Sergio Melta, John Perin, Milan Ivanović and Alex Tobin. Former City NSL striker and current coach Damian Mori holds the record for the most goals scored in the national domestic league with 240 – 131 of which were scored in City colours. Tobin holds the record for playing the most senior games in Australian domestic competition with 522, including 436 for City.
Since it withdrew from the NSL just before the league's final season began in 2003, Adelaide City has competed in the National Premier Leagues South Australia. It has won a record 17 first division titles in South Australia, 12 of which came before City entered the NSL in 1977 and a further five since its participation in national competition ended. City has also claimed more Federation Cup titles than any other club, having won the South Australian domestic knockout title on 17 occasions. The club's 2014 cup final win over traditional rival West Adelaide saw it qualify for the 2014 FFA Cup, in which it reached the quarter-finals and became the first NPL club to eliminate an A-League side when it defeated Western Sydney Wanderers 1–0.
Origins and early years
The club was founded in a back room of the Bailetti sports store on Hindley Street, Adelaide by the shop's owner Mario Bailetti and a small group of former members of a club called Savoia. Supported primarily by members of the city's Italian community, the club was originally called Juventus after the Italian club from 1946 and subsequently renamed Adelaide Juventus in 1960. Bailetti served as chairman for the first 14 years of the club's existence and, after also serving in senior executive roles with the South Australian Soccer Federation, later had the western grandstand of Hindmarsh Stadium named in his honour.
Juventus began life in the second division of South Australian soccer, winning promotion at its first attempt. However, Juventus was relegated straight back to the second tier in 1947, where it remained for another two years. In 1949, Juventus was promoted again and it has remained at the highest level of South Australian soccer ever since, save for several seasons during the club's National Soccer League stint. Early star players included Italian post-war migrant Fulvio Pagani, a fullback who was also selected for the Australian national team.
The first of many state championships arrived in 1953. This was followed by another five titles before the end of the 1950s including an unprecedented four in-a-row between 1956 and 1959. Between 1953 and 1959, the club won 106 of 127 games and six of seven championships it contested. An additional three South Australian championships were won in the 1960s and three more titles were won in the 1970s up until 1976. The club's original home was Kensington Oval, Adelaide, then known as Olympic Sports Field.
During the club's formative years, there were already signs of its potential on the national stage. Adelaide Juventus competed in the inaugural Australia Cup in 1962, finishing third in the national knockout tournament. Its cup run produced wins over eventual national league rivals, Brisbane Azzurri and Sydney Hakoah, before it was denied a place in the final courtesy of a 3–0 loss to St George Budapest in front of 5000 spectators at Hindmarsh Stadium. Juventus reached the semi-finals of the Australia Cup again in 1963, this time having its final hopes dashed by eventual champion Port Melbourne Slavia. The club competed in all but the last edition of the tournament in 1968 but never again progressed beyond the quarter-finals.
Entering the National Soccer League
In 1977, the club renamed itself Adelaide City and became a founding member of the inaugural NSL competition; Australia's first national league of any football code. The team was captained by Frank Lister, who was later inducted into the South Australian Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004. The club's inaugural NSL coach was Edmund Kreft. Roger Romanowicz, Ron Fraser, Fred Yung, Zoran Matić, Lister, John Perin, David Leane, Sergio Melta, Brian Northcote, John Nyskohus and Gary Marocchi started for the Black and Whites in their first ever national league clash, a 0–0 draw against the Brisbane Lions at Olympic Sports Field, watched by 6320 people.
City finished fourth in the first ever NSL season, six points behind eventual champion Eastern Suburbs, later renamed Sydney City. One of the main proponents of the NSL concept, City recorded the league's highest average attendance of 7400 in its first season. The club was also responsible for bringing one of the new league's star recruits to Australian shores in former Celtic striker Dixie Deans, who topped the goalscoring charts in the inaugural NSL season with 16 goals. The Scottish international signed on a $25,000 contract and scored his first goal for the club in a 4–1 derby win over West Adelaide in front of 12,000 fans. Deans remained with City until 1980. One of the club's other highlights from the first NSL season was a 10–3 win over Victorian club Mooroolbark. The game remains the only time an Australian club side has scored 10 goals in a national league match.
The second NSL season was less successful for City. They finished 10th in a 14-team competition and drew a crucial game at the end of the season that allowed their biggest rivals, West Adelaide, to claim the title. That final round match, played at Hindmarsh Stadium, attracted a crowd of 16,251.
The club reached the final of the NSL Cup in 1978 but lost to the Lions in Brisbane. The following year, City won its first national level silverware, defeating St George Budapest 3–1 in front of 9554 fans at Olympic Sports Field.
In 1979, City also faced a New York Cosmos side featuring Dutch star Johan Neeskens and German legend Franz Beckenbauer in a friendly at Olympic Sports Field, which attracted a crowd of more than 28,000.
City remained a mid-table side for the following few seasons. In 1984, the NSL was expanded and split into Northern and Southern conferences. City played in the Southern Conference, alongside clubs from Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.
First national championship
In 1986, the club appointed former player Zoran Matić as its new coach; a decision that would lead to the side becoming a powerhouse for more than a decade. City reached the finals that season for the first time after finishing third in the southern conference. In a qualifying final, City travelled to Melbourne and beat second-placed Footscray JUST 3–2. They backed up that win by returning to Melbourne and defeating Southern Conference champion Brunswick Juventus 2–0 in the semi-finals. The Southern final pit City against Footscray JUST again and the club won its third straight finals clash away from home, 2–1.
City then faced Northern Conference champion, Sydney Olympic, at Hindmarsh Stadium in the first leg of the NSL grand final. Despite losing 1–0 in front of 12,232 home fans, City travelled to Sydney the following week and defeated the Greek community-backed Olympic 3–1 at Parramatta Stadium to be crowned Australian champions for the first time. The club's first championship captain Bugsy Nyskohus also became the first player to play 300 NSL games.
Remarkably, City's first championship side included nine home-grown South Australians in Nyskohus, Paul Shillabeer, Alex Tobin, Charlie Villani, Adrian Santrac, Sergio Melta, Aurelio Vidmar, Steve Maxwell and Joe Mullen.
Championship glory qualified City to play in the first ever Oceania Club Championship in 1987. In reality, the tournament was a one-off game for City, which faced off against 1986 New Zealand National Soccer League winners University-Mount Wellington. In front of 3500 fans at Hindmarsh Stadium, City beat UniMount on penalties after a 1–1 draw, Mullen having scored the home side's goal. The Oceania championship would not be held again until 1999.
The NSL returned to a single conference, 14-team competition the following season and City disappointed, backing up its championship season with a 10th-place finish. It would not be until the 1989–90 season, when the NSL switched to summertime, that the Adelaide club returned to the finals series. However, they were eliminated at the first hurdle at home by Sydney Olympic.
City enjoyed its finest years during the 1990s. The club finished third in the 1990–91 season, four points behind Melbourne Croatia. In the finals, they faced South Melbourne Hellas away from home, losing 4–2 in Melbourne. City, which had a double chance due to its top three finish, rebounded and beat Marconi-Fairfield 1–0 at home thanks to a 93rd minute Joe Mullen goal. However, in the preliminary final, South Melbourne's Paul Trimboli scored the only goal to break City hearts. South went on to win the grand final on penalties against arch-rivals Melbourne Croatia. City's season was recognised with individual awards to its star defender, Milan Ivanović, who was named NSL Player of the Year after arriving from Yugoslav giants Red Star Belgrade, and Coach of the Year Zoran Matić.
The following season saw City win its second championship. While the club finished fourth after the home-and-away rounds, its reputation as a finals specialist continued to become stronger. A Carl Veart goal gave the Zebras a 1–0 win over Wollongong City at Hindmarsh. Veart then scored twice away from home, including an extra time winner, against Sydney Olympic. Goals from Veart, his fourth of the finals campaign, and rising star Ross Aloisi gave City a 2–0 win over South Melbourne at Olympic Park. A 0–0 draw in the grand final against Melbourne Croatia went City's favour, as they won on penalties to claim their second NSL title. Croatia had lost two grand finals in two years on penalties to rival clubs.
Adelaide City narrowly failed to go back-to-back in the 1992–93 season, losing the grand final 1–0 to Marconi after finishing third on the ladder. City had defeated their biggest rivals West Adelaide and South Melbourne to reach the decider.
The following season, the Zebras reclaimed their national title. Despite finishing fifth on the table, City was able to reach the grand final by downing powerhouses Sydney United, Marconi and South Melbourne. Its biggest finals performers included a young Damian Mori, who went on to become one of Australia's greatest ever goalscorers, Brad Hassell and Tony Vidmar. City faced the Melbourne Knights in the grand final at Melbourne's Olympic Park. Mori scored the only goal of the game, giving City their third championship against his former club, which had now lost three grand finals in four seasons.
The Croatian-backed Knights exacted revenge on City the following season, edging them out by one point to top the table after the regular season. City then beat Knights over two legs in the semi-finals to secure a home grand final. Knights beat their rivals South Melbourne to qualify for the grand final. The patch pit that season's two top goalscorers against one another, the Knights' Mark Viduka having scored 18 goals and City's Damian Mori 17. In front of more than 16,000 fans, the Knights defeated Adelaide City for the first time in South Australia to claim their first national title. Despite the loss, Matić was again named Coach of the Year.
City made the finals in each of the following six seasons but failed to reach another grand final. Its run of 11 consecutive finals series stands as a national record. Damian Mori won the first of his three top goalscorer awards for City in 1996, with 31 goals for the season. His goalscoring efforts also saw him named Player of the Year.
Final NSL years
The club rebranded itself as the Adelaide Force going into the 2000–01 season, in an effort to promote themselves beyond Adelaide's Italian community, from where they had drawn their traditional support. City missed the finals in their first season as the Force and finished second-last the following year, their worst ever NSL season. It was the club's first season without star striker Mori, who signed for Perth Glory after he received an offer to become a full-time professional. Mori remained with the West Australian club until the NSL folded in 2004, after which he returned to City.
Going into the 2002–03 season, which was to be their last in the NSL, City recruited Italian striker Claudio Pelosi who had previously spent a two-year stint at the club. Pelosi's goals helped City return to the finals series. The NSL changed its finals format to a round-robin competition played over 10 matches between the top six. Minor round premiers, Olympic Sharks were given a six-point advantage and despite City's valiant finals efforts, they finished two points shy of the Sharks and a berth in the grand final.
City's final NSL match saw them beat Northern Spirit 6–0 in front of 3,833 home fans at Hindmarsh Stadium.
On 31 August 2003, after 27 seasons in the NSL, Adelaide City announced its departure from the national league because of financial difficulties. The club returned to only fielding sides in the South Australian state competition the following year.
Return to state competition
City competed in the South Australian competitions even while its senior side played in the NSL. However, after its departure from the national league, City's top side enjoyed a successful return to the state leagues. In 2005, the club won the Premier League grand final, despite finishing seven points shy of the North Eastern MetroStars during the regular season.
Adelaide City completed the treble in 2006 winning three trophies, the pre-season Errea Cup, the 2006 FFSA Super League (a rebranded SA Premier League) and the FFSA Adelaide United Cup. City met Raiders in the Errea Cup final in what was a rematch of the previous season's Grand Final. City breezed through winning 5–0. In the Super League, City fought off tough competition for the majority of the year and ended the season three games clear on top of the table with a healthy goal difference. City then went on to win the FFSA Adelaide United Cup with a comprehensive 4–1 victory over Adelaide Blue Eagles. Striker Jonathan Negus scored a hat-trick and won the John Kosmina Medal awarded to the best on ground.
Damian Mori, now coach of City, led the club to its third and fourth straight South Australian titles in the 2007 season and 2008 season. The club lost to MetroStars in the 2009 grand final, preventing them from claiming five championships in a row. However, they defeated Adelaide Blue Eagles to win the SA title again in 2010—their fifth in six seasons with Mori as coach. Blue Eagles exacted revenge the following year, defeating City on penalties in the grand final. City also lost the 2012 grand final to MetroStars.
On 12 August that year, Adelaide City played Western Sydney Wanderers in the round of 32 of the 2014 FFA Cup. The Wanderers team featured players such as Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Ante Čović and Tomi Jurić and were overwhelming favourites to progress. With 15 minutes left, and the scores tied at 0–0, City midfielder Thomas Love went on a solo run, beating several players and scored the winning goal for Adelaide City. The victory was a massive result for the club who were the first semi-professional side to defeat an A-League side in what was the first ever season of the FFA Cup. Adelaide managed to progress to the quarter-finals of the tournament, beating Brisbane Strikers 1–0 in the round of 16, not before being eliminated by Bentleigh Greens in a 2–1 extra-time loss.
City returned to the South Australian National Premier Leagues grand final in 2016 but, despite having topped the regular season table, lost to Campbelltown City and failed to claim its first South Australian championship since 2011.
Colours, badge and nicknames
Adelaide City was founded as Juventus in 1946. To this day, it retains the Juventus, or Juve nickname. Its traditional playing strip harks back to the Italian club's black and white stripes. Because of this iconic design, City have also been known as the Black and Whites.
The club's initial attempt to don the famous black and white stripes of Italian club Juventus were thwarted when the South Australian Soccer Federation ruled that there could only be one black and white team per league and the black and white of Port Adelaide took precedence. Juventus thus first wore a navy blue strip with a white "J" before finally being permitted to wear black and white stripes from 1949.
When the NSL was formed in 1977, Adelaide City's badge included the Italian tricolour, as well as its now iconic kangaroo and zebra symbol. The tricolour remained until 1996, when governing body Soccer Australia introduced controversial policies requiring clubs to remove all traces of their ethnic heritage from names and symbols. Former Soccer Australia chairman David Hill threatened clubs with expulsion if they refused.
During the 1990s, City was also known for several seasons as the Zebras. The club's logo bore the Zebras moniker for a few seasons after it was forced to remove the Italian tricolour. City then adopted the name Adelaide City Force for its final four seasons in the NSL. During its time using the Force moniker, City added orange trim to its home strip and also used the colour in its away uniforms. Upon leaving the national competition, City ceased to be known as the Force and reverted to its traditional Juve or Black and Whites' nicknames and traditional colour scheme.
The club's current logo features a kangaroo and a zebra, paying homage to its Australian and Italian heritage, along with three stars representing each of its national championships.
During its National Soccer League days, City first played games at Olympic Sports Field in the inner-eastern suburb of Kensington, before playing at Hindmarsh Stadium – South Australia's purpose-built soccer stadium.
Supporters and rivalries
Adelaide City has traditionally drawn its support from the broader Italian community of Adelaide, South Australia. While based in the north-eastern suburbs, its lengthy history as a National Soccer League side means it has supporters based right across the city. For six seasons, it was Adelaide's only representative at national level.
The club's greatest rival is West Adelaide, a club traditionally backed by Adelaide's Greek community and with whom City contests the Adelaide derby. The Italians and Greeks were among the largest migrant communities of South Australia and were strong supporters of their clubs, then called Juventus and Hellas respectively, when both entered the National Soccer League upon its foundation in 1977. West was the first Adelaide club to win a national title in 1978, before City claimed its three titles in the following two decades. Matches between Juventus and Hellas traditionally drew strong crowds, until the latter, then named Adelaide Sharks, withdrew from the NSL and ceased playing senior soccer at any level in 1999. In 2008, West Adelaide revived its senior soccer side and resumed playing in the South Australian league, reigniting a once-great derby. In 2014, the two sides faced off in the Federation Cup final, which City won 4–1.
Adelaide City's other great rivals include the Melbourne Knights. The two sides enjoyed their greatest eras in the 1990s and faced off in three grand finals in four seasons. City won two of those finals, both played in Melbourne, while the Croatian-backed Knights defeated Adelaide City for the first time in Adelaide to win the 1995 championship. The two sides have not played since 2003, when Adelaide City left the NSL. Knights now play in the National Premier Leagues Victoria.
During its time in the NSL, City enjoyed hard fought, healthy rivalries with the league's other traditionally big clubs, Greek-backed South Melbourne and Sydney Olympic, Italian-backed Marconi and Croatian-backed Sydney United.
Since returning to the South Australian competition, City's biggest rivals have included other Italian-backed and north-eastern suburbs clubs, Adelaide Blue Eagles, Campbelltown City and the MetroStars.
- As of 16 June 2019
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
1972, 1974, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010
1972, 1973, 1976, 2006, 2007, 2013, 2014
|1946||SA Div 2||14||7||3||4||41||40||+1||17||1st (P)||Pozza Cup runner-up|
|1947||SA Div 1||21||5||3||13||30||70||−40||13||8th (R)|
|1948||SA Div 2||22||9||3||10||64||82||−18||21||6th|
|1949||SA Div 2||21||18||1||2||77||22||+55||37||1st (P)||Pozza Cup runner-up|
|1950||SA Div 1||18||11||2||5||60||34||+26||24||2nd|
|1951||SA Div 1||18||7||6||5||57||48||+9||20||6th||Federation Cup runner-up|
|1952||SA Div 1||18||12||5||1||45||17||+28||29||2nd|
|1953||SA Div 1||18||16||1||1||60||11||+49||33||Champion||Federation Cup champion|
|1954||SA Div 1||18||15||1||2||76||23||+43||31||Champion||Federation Cup runner-up|
|1955||SA Div 1||18||14||2||2||65||19||+46||30||2nd||Federation Cup champion|
|1956||SA Div 1||18||18||0||0||94||10||+84||36||Champion|
|1957||SA Div 1||18||15||3||0||80||16||+64||33||Champion||Federation Cup champion|
|1958||SA Div 1||18||16||2||0||70||16||+54||34||Champion||Federation Cup champion|
|1959||SA Div 1||18||13||2||2||63||21||+42||29||Champion||Federation Cup champion|
|1960||SA Div 1||22||12||6||4||55||32||+23||30||3rd|
|1961||SA Div 1||21||14||4||3||62||24||+38||32||2nd|
|1962||SA Div 1||18||11||1||6||52||26||+26||23||2nd|
|1963||SA Div 1||18||13||3||2||42||22||+20||29||Champion||Federation Cup champion|
|1964||SA Div 1||18||11||5||2||38||16||+28||27||Champion|
|1965||SA Div 1||18||10||1||7||50||25||+25||21||3rd||Federation Cup champion|
|1966||SA Div 1||18||13||2||3||49||21||+28||28||2nd|
|1967||SA Div 1||18||14||3||1||55||11||+44||31||Champion||Federation Cup runner-up|
|1968||SA Div 1||18||10||4||4||36||15||+21||24||3rd||Federation Cup runner-up|
|1969||SA Div 1||18||10||2||6||45||24||+21||22||3rd||Federation Cup champion|
|1970||SA Div 1||18||14||2||2||61||20||+41||30||Champion||Federation Cup champion|
|1971||SA Div 1||18||11||3||4||43||20||+43||25||2nd||Federation Cup champion|
|1972||SA Div 1||18||13||5||0||37||13||+24||31||Champion||Federation Cup champion|
|1973||SA Div 1||18||12||1||5||37||12||+25||25||2nd||Federation Cup champion|
|1974||SA Div 1||18||13||2||3||36||11||+25||28||Champion|
|1975||SA Div 1||18||11||2||3||42||11||+31||28||2nd|
|1976||SA Div 1||18||11||5||2||39||10||+29||27||2nd||Federation Cup champion|
|1978||NSL*||26||9||6||11||38||44||−6||24||10th||NSL Cup runner-up|
|1979||NSL*||26||13||6||7||43||27||+16||33||5th||NSL Cup champion|
|1989||NSL*||26||10||8||8||29||24||+5||38||6th||NSL Cup champion|
|1991–92||NSL*||26||10||9||7||26||23||+3||29||5th||Champion||NSL Cup champion|
|2004||SA Div 1||22||7||6||9||27||41||−14||27||7th|
|2005||SA Div 1||22||15||2||5||43||26||+17||47||2nd||Champion|
|2006||SA Div 1||18||10||8||0||37||13||+24||38||Champion||Federation Cup champion|
|2007||SA Div 1||18||14||3||1||49||17||+32||45||Champion||Federation Cup champion|
|2008||SA Div 1||18||11||1||5||33||17||+16||37||Champion||Federation Cup runner-up|
|2009||SA Div 1||18||8||4||6||25||17||+8||28||5th||Runner-up|
|2010||SA Div 1||18||10||2||6||28||27||+1||32||3rd||Champion|
|2011||SA Div 1||18||13||4||1||46||15||+31||43||2nd||Runner-up|
|2012||SA Div 1||18||9||3||6||29||21||+8||30||4th||Runner-up|
|2013||SA Div 1||26||15||3||8||58||29||+29||48||3rd||Elimination final||Federation Cup champion|
|2014||SA Div 1||26||13||3||10||47||33||+14||42||6th||Elimination final||Federation Cup champion|
FFA Cup quarter-final
|2015||SA Div 1||26||14||4||8||69||39||+30||46||5th||Semi-final||Federation Cup runner-up|
|2016||SA Div 1||22||17||2||3||62||27||+35||53||Premier||Runner-up|
|2017||SA Div 1||22||16||2||4||60||19||+41||50||6th||Runner-up||Federation Cup runner-up|
|2018||SA Div 1||22||14||4||4||52||19||+33||28***||5th||Runner-up|
|2019||SA Div 1||22||5||9||8||29||42||-13||18***||10th||Federation Cup runner-up|
|2020||SA Div 1|
* Also fielded sides in South Australian competition
** Drawn matches decided on penalties after 90 minutes, with two points awarded for a win and one for a loss.
*** Following a sanction by the independent Disciplinary Committee, Adelaide City had 18 competition points removed for the 2018 season, and a further 6 points for the 2019 season.
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- "Simon Hill chats to Damian Mori about his career in the NSL and A-League and his coaching ambitions". Fox Sports Australia. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
- "A-League: Adelaide marks a decade United". abc.net.au. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
- "Uni student Thomas Love sinks the Wanderers". theaustralian.com.au. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
- "FFA Cup: relive all the action in the round of 32 of Australia's knockout soccer competition". foxsports.com.au. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
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- "Adelaide City Divisional History". www.ozfootball.net. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
- "Adelaide City FC Outcome". FFSA. 23 December 2018.
| NSL Champions
| NSL Champions
| NSL Champions
|FIFA Oceania Club Championship 1987 Winners|