If Adelaide United FC’s first Harvey Norman Friday Night Football encounter of the season against Melbourne Victory was not already enough to wet the appetite, the match will also pay homage to the Reds’ first ever game almost ten years to the day back in 2003 as a celebration of the club’s 10 Year Anniversary.
Friday night’s game night will consist of a number of similarities to that historic night back on October 17, 2003 against Brisbane Strikers. Most notably, the players will wear a special commemorative strip similar to the one that was worn on that night, the shirts also to contain the names of every player to have represented Adelaide United in its ten year history.
Other features of the night will include live bands, cheer leaders, a parade of over 300 local U-10 players, a special presentation to the club’s first 10 year member, plus an appearance by a number of the players that took the field in that first game.
Current Reds Marcelo Carrusca and Osama Malik modelled the one-off commemorative strips after training today, with the match worn 10th Anniversary playing shirts to be auctioned by the club online next week.
The crowd on that night ten years ago is widely rumoured to be the biggest ever seen at Hindmarsh Stadium with kick-off having to be delayed due to thousands still waiting outside the gates to get in. These were scenes never before seen for a South Australian football team in a national competition.
With Aurelio Vidmar leading the team out as the inaugural captain, and local tennis star Lleyton Hewitt gracing the field with then owner Gordon Pickard, it is a night football united and came of age in South Australia. Carl Veart scored the only goal of the game in the 38th minute as the Reds won 1-0.
Veart remembers the night vividly and views it as one of the most memorable occasions of his career.
“To walk out and see so many South Australians supporting a South Australian side, it just showed to me that if things are done correctly football can survive in this state,” Veart said.
“I didn’t think I would see that in my time so that’s why it was such a great night, and the support that carried on from that night for the rest of the season was unbelievable. It was just a great night because we had never got that kind of support in the previous NSL days, so to be a South Australian and walk out on that night was just superb.
“In terms of career highlights, I would probably have three or four great memories of my playing career and that would definitely be up there. I still get butterflies when I think about it, scoring the first goal and getting the win, it will always mean a lot to me. I don’t think Hindmarsh Stadium will ever get that many people in it again.”
Vidmar shared Veart’s sentiments.
“That night brings back some of the greatest memories of my playing days. I remember a couple of days before the match and we knew it was going to be a sellout. All of the players were buzzing and I had absolutely no idea what to expect or what would eventually occur on that night,” Vidmar said.
“As we walked out there was a deafening cheer, the hairs on the back my neck stood up like never before. I was so pumped to be representing a new South Australian team and the support we had is something I had never before experienced in the NSL for a home and away match. When the referee blew the whistle for full time I think we would have been ready to go for another 90 minutes just to savour the atmosphere – it was awesome.
“I have been privileged to have had a lot of good nights in my playing career and have experienced highs and lows, but that night was one of the greatest highlights for me in the context of a new club forming, getting a full house and coming out on top.”
The Reds will just be hoping for a similar result once the full time whistle is blown on Friday. Kick-Off is at 7.00pm and tickets are selling fast but are still available through Ticketek.