When it comes to AFL expansion Mark Mickan is absolute royalty. Inaugural Brisbane captain and inaugural Adelaide club champion, he’s been a central figure in the evolution of the game from 12 Melbourne-based teams all playing at 2pm on Saturdays to 18 teams spread across the country in a competition where two games in the same time slot are an unwanted rarity.

But as his two clubs prepare to meet at Adelaide Oval on Sunday afternoon Mickan, now 62 and living in Adelaide, is “just a fan these days” fighting a battle that goes far beyond goals and behinds. He’s got Parkinson’s Disease.

Diagnosed in August 2016 with a condition that impacts almost 10million people world-wide and four in every 1000 Australians. A disorder of the nervous system, it is not in itself terminal but will impact quality of life significantly.

“It’s a bit like growing older quickly – it doesn’t kill you but it’s not much good for you,” said Mickan in a typically forthright fashion.

It started for the much-loved Mickan when he was coaching West Adelaide in the SANFL and noticed an unexplained tremor in his left hand. He has twice undergone deep brain stimulation surgery – once with little benefit and a second time that has helped control his symptoms.

Suffering from low blood pressure as part of his Parkinsons, he can longer work “because every time I stand up I’m a chance to fall down”, but he can still drive. He goes to the gym three times a week for a two-hour workout as part of a regular and recommended exercise routine, and splits his time between his own fight and the lives of his family.

A qualified teacher with an add-on degree in psychology, Mickan was a self-confessed late-starter to family life but today shares two sons -  Fletcher (15) and Spencer (11) – with partner Callie.

 “I try to get to one or two Crows games each year and I help out a bit with welfare at ‘Westies’ (West Adelaide), but I’m more focussed on the family. I’ll go this week (to the Lions-Crows game) if one of the boys want to go, but I mostly just watch on the TV.”

He is also vitally involved in the Doug Thomas Foundation, named in honour of a long-time West Adelaide football boss that raises funds to help aspiring and less-privileged young boys and girls meet the costs of playing the game.

Whether he’s at Adelaide Oval on Sunday or not, Mickan will have a foot in both camps after a career in which he played 49 games with the Brisbane Bears from 1987-90 after being a mature-age recruit to the expansion club, and 37 games with the Adelaide Crows from 1991-93.

Preferred to ex-Collingwood captain Mark Williams as the Bears inaugural skipper by coach Peter Knights, he polled two Brownlow votes in his first AFL game at 26 and after playing every game in the club’s first season was third in what is now the Merrett/Murray Medal behind Phillip Walsh and Geoff Raines, equal with Mike Richardson.

All-Australian in 1988 after representing South Australia at the Bi-Centennial Championships in Adelaide, Mickan battled injury in subsequent years with the Bears when were based at Carrara.

He was lured ‘home’ for the Crows’ entry to the AFL in 1991, and after missing the club’s first three games due to injury he played the last 19 to beat Tony McGuinness and Nigel Smart in what is now the Malcolm Blight Medal.

Having retired at 32 in 1992, he has twice been an assistant coach at the Crows and has coached Woodville-West Torrens, Glenelg and West Adelaide in the SANFL, taking West Adelaide to the 2015 flag and finally stepping away from the job in 2017.

Admitted to the South Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2002, he is one of football’s great people, and was only too happy to talk of his condition this week in the hope that by doing so he might help even one person who suffers from the same condition.

Common Players

Mickan was the first of 10 players to have played for Brisbane and Adelaide. In chronological order, the others have been Michael Murphy, Matthew Clarke, now the Crows’ AFLW coach, Chris Schmidt, Ben Hudson, now the Lions VFL coach, current Lions pair Jarryd Lyons and Charlie Cameron, Cam Ellis-Yolmen, and current Crows players Ben Keays and Mitch Hinge.


Mickan played in the first of 45 games between Brisbane and Adelaide at Football Park in Round 14 1991, when the Crows, coached by Graham Cornes, won by 66 points. Shane Hodges (7 goals), Darel Hart (4) and ex-Mayne coach John Klug (3) led the Adelaide goal-kicking while Andrew Jarman (32 possessions) was judged best afield. Laurence Schache, father of the Lions’ former #2 draft pick Josh Schache, kicked six goals for a Bears side coached by Robert Walls, while Brad Hardie had 31 possessions.

The aggregate record between the clubs favors Adelaide 24-21. They won the first six and eight in a row from 2013-18, but Brisbane have won the last four. At their last meeting at Adelaide Oval in Round 9 last year the Lions prevailed by 36 points, with Lachie Neale picking up 36 possessions, Charlie Cameron kicking four goals, and the Brownlow votes going to Neale, Dayne Zorko and Hugh McCluggage.

It’s 13-13 between the clubs at the Gabba and 2-2 at Adelaide Oval, while the Crows have an 8-6 edge at Football Park and won their only meeting at Carrara.

Brownlow Medal Votes

Michael Voss has polled most Brownlow Medal votes for Brisbane against Adelaide with 14, having figured in the votes six times for three three-voters. Simon Black (11), Jason Akermanis (10) and Lachie Neale (9) are next best. Neale has been best afield in three of the last four games against Adelaide. Scott Thompson (16) leads the Crows vote from Mark Riccuito (11) and Rory Sloane (8), while the team vote favors Brisbane 132-126.

Leading Possession-Winners

Four players share the record for most possessions in a game between the two clubs at 40 – Brisbane’s Dayne Beams, Tom Rockliff and Luke Power and Adelaide’s Matt Crouch.

Rockliff and Simon Black had four 30-possession games against the Crows, with Power, Nigel Lappin and Lachie Neale three each. Scott Thompson, Rory Laird and Tyson Edwards have four 30+ games for the Crows, with Brad Crouch, Matt Crouch and Mark Riccuito three each.

Leading Goal-Kickers

Alastair Lynch made a habit of taking a heavy toll on the Crows, and has been far and away Brisbane’s most prolific goal-kicker in head-to-head meetings. Having kicked a career-best 61 goals against Adelaide at a career-best average of 3.21 goals per game, Lynch topped four goals in a game against them eight times – 4-5-6-7 each twice – and shares the club record of seven with Michael Voss. No other Brisbane player has had more of two games of 4+.

Picture: Alastair Lynch 2001 Finals 

Charlie Cameron finds himself in the odd situation of having kicked four goals in a game for Brisbane and Adelaide. Scott Hodges eight-goal haul at Football Park in 1992 is a record between the clubs. He also kicked 4-5-7. The Crows have had two other major goal-kickers against Brisbane, with Tony Modra booting 4-4-6-6-7-7 and Taylor Walker 4-4-6-7.

Adelaide Form Guide

The Crows have had three parts to their 2023 season. They lost their first two against GWS in Sydney (16 points) and Richmond in Adelaide (32 points before four wins on the trot against Port Adelaide (31 points), Fremantle in Adelaide (39 points), Carlton in Adelaide (56 points) and Hawthorn in Launceston (3 points). Since then a 52-point Round 9 win over St.Kilda in Adelaide has split losses to Collingwood in Adelaide (1 point), Geelong in Geelong (26 points) and last week the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium (45 points).

Rory Laird, averaging 28.3 possessions a game, has been their No.1 ball-winner ahead of new captain Jordan Dawson (26.5), Rory Sloane (20.5) and Brodie Smith (20.4), while they’ve had five players with 10+ goals – Taylor Walker (23), Izak Rankine (19), Darcy Fogarty (15), Josh Rachele (13) and Luke Pedler (12). Ex-Lion Ben Keays, who played his 100th AFL game last week, has averaged 16 possessions and kicked five goals.

Dawson leads the Adelaide vote in the AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year Award, having polled in six of 10 games for 34 votes. Walker and Laird have 20 votes, Rankine 16 and Smith 12.