Each team took on the identity of a native Australian bird but what many people would not know is that the first name for the team was not actually the Adelaide Thunderbirds, but the Adelaide Falcons. The name was changed at the request of the pre-existing Adelaide Falcons Rugby Team.
Netball SA held the license for both the Thunderbirds and the Ravens, the two composite Adelaide teams formed when the National League began. Both teams were assigned four State League Clubs to draw players from and the Thunderbirds became aligned with Cheerio, Contax, Matrics, Oakdale and later Harlequin.
The world class venue, Netball SA Stadium has been the home of the Adelaide Thunderbirds since the inception of the competition, and many memorable battles have been endured on Court 1 over the years, including the 1999 premiership victory over Adelaide counterparts the Ravens.
The AIS program gained a team in the Commonwealth Bank Trophy in 2002 replacing the Adelaide Ravens, and this gave the nation’s best youngsters the opportunity to take the court against some of the best netballers in the world. These young AIS scholarship holders and Darters representatives used the experience as a launching pad including our very own Thunderbirds Bianca Reddy and Kirby Mutton.
Following the demise of the Ravens, the Thunderbirds have flown the flag alone in the Commonwealth Bank Trophy as the State’s sole representative with access to every player in South Australia.
The Thunderbirds have been extremely successful winning two back-to-back titles in 1998 and 1999 and never finishing below third.
Inaugural team coach Margaret Angove was at the helm for the first 10 years and coached her 150th game during the 2006 season and chose to retire that same year. Coaching the team in 2007 and the final year of the Commonwealth Bank Trophy was Tania Obst who maintained the team’s success story by taking the Thunderbirds to the finals series where they finished in third place.
Playing legends have come and gone. The names of Kathryn Harby-Williams, Rebecca Sanders, Jacqui Delaney and recently retired Peta Scholz, Laura von Bertouch will never be forgotten, while current Thunderbirds Natalie von Bertouch, Bec Bulley, Renae Hallinan and Erin Bell are players making their mark both nationally and internationally.
The Commonwealth Bank Trophy era spanning eleven years ceased in 2007 to make way for the ANZ Championship, a revolutionary competition that has changed the sport of netball and women’s sport in Australia.
The ANZ Championship was launched in 2008 with ten teams (five from New Zealand, five from Australia), and succeeds two national leagues: Australia’s Commonwealth Bank Trophy (1997-2007), and New Zealand’s National Bank Cup (1998-2007).
The competition is owned by Trans-Tasman Netball League Ltd (TTNL), a joint venture of Netball Australia and Netball New Zealand.
Netball has the highest participation rate of any women’s sport in both countries. Australia and New Zealand have dominated the international history of netball, between them winning every World Championship title since 1963. The ANZ Championship is the first semi-professional netball competition in Australasia.
Australia’s first netball competition The Commonwealth Bank Trophy was launched in 1997 and owned and managed by Netball Australia. The competition comprised eight teams from South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.
- Adelaide Ravens
- Adelaide Thunderbirds
- Melbourne Kestrels
- Melbourne Phoenix
- Perth Orioles
- Sydney Sandpipers
- Sydney Swifts
- Queensland Firebirds