AFL greats react to Eddie Betts' explosive claims about Crows

Eddie Betts greets fans as the Adelaide Crows walk off the field.
AFL icon Eddie Betts has described his experiences at the Adelaide Crows' infamous 2018 pre-season camp, leaving many observers stunned. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Wild revelations about the nature of the Adelaide Crows' infamous pre-season training camp in 2018 detailed in Eddie Betts' autobiography have left the AFL world stunned.

Mystery still largely surrounds the camp, which came in the wake of Adelaide's 2017 grand final loss to Richmond.

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Betts detailed his experience in his soon to be released book The Boy from Boomerang Crescent, describing how personal information about his mother was turned against him, as well as the camp's overall disrespect towards Indigenous customs.

Much of the AFL world has been left shocked by the revelations, with league icon Garry Lyon left stunned by what Betts described.

“There was all sorts of weird shit that was disrespectful to many cultures, but particularly and extremely disrespectful to my culture,” he wrote.

Betts also outlined how the camp's operators told players the experience would make them 'a better husband, father and child' in comments that were memorably repeated by senior players Rory Sloane and Taylor Walker when details of the camp began to emerge in 2018.

Lyon said the Crows' treatement of Betts, as well as other Indigenous players who raised concerns was tantamount to a 'betrayal' - particularly considering Betts was dropped from the club's leadership group three weeks after raising his objections.

An independent investigation cleared the Crows of potential workplace health and safety breaches, but the spectre of the camp has haunted the club ever since.

Lyon told SEN that, given Betts' descriptions, it was little wonder the Crows failed to recapture the form that catapulted them into the 2017 decider.

“When you read those words from Eddie, there is no debate about how it impacted on him,” Lyon said.

“He talks about the Indigenous players, the cultural differences or sensitivities that weren’t adhered to. That’s Eddie … and that’s unequivocal, right? You can’t argue with any of that.

“Everyone’s own experiences have been caught up in this and from an Indigenous point of view, a lot of it from Eddie said that cultural sensitivities weren’t adhered to – and that is very, very real.

“In the end, it was untenable. We talk about the atmosphere and environment … take apart who you agree with and you don’t agree with, the fact of the matter is it split the club down the middle. When you get the Sloanes and the Walkers, who have their recollection, and then you’ve got Eddie and others I would imagine … no wonder it destroyed that joint."

AFL world shocked by Eddie Betts' Adelaide Crows revelations

While much of the AFL world rallied around Betts' story on Wednesday, Crow board member Mark Ricciuto maintained the club had embarked on the pre-season trip with the best of intentions.

“He’s been one of the greats of the club,” Ricciuto told Adelaide’s Triple M Breakfast.

“Player welfare is always number one no matter what’s going on, you always want everyone to be happy, so it’s very sad.

“I think the club has been on record at times to say that they acknowledge that it wasn’t handled perfectly. It had all good intention but didn’t go perfectly.

“We all love Eddie and hopefully Eddie is getting over that … certainly the club moved on from that and are looking towards the future and have made a lot of ground since back then. It has come up in Eddie’s book and that is fair enough.”

Many though, felt Adelaide's reputation had taken a serious hit as a result.

Rory Sloane and Eddie Betts are pictured talking on the bench during an Adelaide Crows match.
Rory Sloane was one of a handful of Adelaide Crows to defend the club's 2018 pre-season training camp, which Eddie Betts says ruined the team's morale. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Former Port Adelaide premiership player Kane Cornes was scathing in his assessment, telling SEN Breakfast SA it would be difficult for Crows fans to accept how poorly one of their favourites was treated during his years with the club.

“The question is, all of the people who have defended the camp and have said nothing went on, including the Crows fans, including Mark Ricciuto, including the club, what do they do now? Details have come out, Eddie Betts was abused about his mother,” Cornes said.

“We do now have a blow-by-blow account which is pretty harrowing that your most popular player in club history was treated like an animal on this camp.

“I think it’s embarrassing for Rory Sloane and Taylor Walker to now hear that that was a rehearsed line and that they were all told and indoctrinated into saying it had made them a better father and husband and child. And to see Eddie Betts relay that that was actually rehearsed, it doesn’t paint Rory and his leadership in great light.

“There’s a lot of egg on the face of Crows supporters, the footy club and a few players that were there.”

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