By Genevieve Meegan
Being the most fanatical and dedicated Adelaide Crows supporter takes time, money, commitment and passion, but it’s a role that Denise Watts loves.
The energetic 75 year old buys at least two newspapers every day – one to read and one to cut out all the stories about the Crows.
“Friday’s are the busiest when you have all the team news,” she says sitting in her lounge room with husband Ian, also a keen fan.
“We have it delivered but you get caught if you don’t buy one from the service station as well, you miss out on the early edition.”
Denise has cut out every single newspaper article about the Crows since 1997. She now has 217 huge scrap books bursting with Crows news and feature articles, including an entire scrap book devoted to the late coach Phil Walsh, who died at the hands of his son Cy Walsh in 2015.
“That was just awful,” Denise says showing me the prized scrap book. “I met Phil Walsh, such a lovely man.”
The books are kept in what used to be the couple’s pool table room. The pool table is covered and hasn’t been used in years. The adjoining bar room is a sea of red, blue and yellow, completely devoted to Crows memorabilia.
There are posters, framed photos and gurnseys, dolls, footballs, plates, beer cans, commemorative coins, rugs, a life-size poster of Eddie Betts, cut outs of Rory Sloane’s head – it’s hard to take it all in on first inspection.
“I just do it because I love it,” Denise says. “I started and I can’t stop now.”
Ian estimates his wife’s collection to be worth well over $20,000, and despite the fact that they’re pensioners, Denise has no plans to slow down the spending to document the history of her beloved club.
She recently spent $600 to get two items framed and she spends more than $200 a year to pay for parking near Adelaide Oval for the games.
“I told Ian I better not spend any more money, but I keep collecting,” she laughs.
Denise, who used to work at the Orlando winery on the bottling line, still goes to every match, although due to ill-health Ian is not able to join her this year.
“We used to go to meetings at AAMI stadium, especially when discussions started about shifting to Adelaide Oval,” says Denise. “We didn’t want them to shift but now we’re glad because I’m not sure how Ian would have coped with the stairs there. The Adelaide Oval is better for him now.”
Highlights of Denise’s time with the club include when she got to toss the coin at the beginning of the Crows/Hawthorn game in 2015.
“You had to write a story about why you were the best supporter – that’s how I won it because of my books,” she says. “That was a great day walking out with Tex Walker. I got a kiss from Tex.”
The couple reminisce about the early days of the club with players like Darren and Andrew Jarman, Matthew Robran and Nigel Smart. Today they name Rory Sloane, Tex Walker and Eddie Betts as their favourite players.
“We used to go out to watch training a lot and we got chatting to Rory’s mum Sandra who is lovely, and we love Eddie Betts who is so friendly and down to earth,” Ian says.
The couple has vowed to leave the entire memorabilia collection to the club when they pass away through the Crows Forever scheme, where supporters can leave money or possessions to the club – they’ve even had a Justice of the Peace sign agreements to this effect.
That is fine with the couple’s daughter Raelene, 55, who is not really into the footy, and son Peter, 56, who supports the Power! Their grandson Adrian and his wife Renee are Crows fan and sometimes accompany Denise to the games.
“That’s why I can’t stop now, I never will, because I know it’s all going to end up at the club, and that is a huge thrill for me. Makes all the hours and effort so worth it.”
Top image: Crows fans cheers during the 2017 AFL round 20 match between the Adelaide Crows and the Port Adelaide Power at Adelaide Oval on August 06, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)