Why can’t I bring myself to get behind the Dockers?
Fremantle provided an early AFL Finals shock by beating Geelong (AFL media/Slattery images).
Over the weekend, a friend approached me in a favourite Adelaide pub. His first words were “You must be rapt!” I was understandably confused, having just watched my beloved Crows get a taste of reality from the stone-hard Swans.
Did he mean the SANFL? My team North Adelaide had achieved a great win over the Central Districts. “No, not that!” was his reply.
Did he mean Collingwood losing the previous night? “No mate, I mean Fremantle getting up!”
This took me aback. Not only do I not support the Dockers, but I have treated them with a kind of benign contempt over the years – or so I thought at the time.
My ever astute friend (who has a very strong memory for things said and things sporty) proceeded to remind me of my fascination with Freo and their playing finals football.
Seemingly every year, I predict a Fremantle resurgence in a little competition my mates and I have, in which we give our predictions for that year’s AFL Ladder in exact order, the eventual premiers, wooden spooners, Coleman Medallist and Rising Star.
It’s become something of a yearly joke, when I put Fremantle in the eight for some unjustified reason.
I’ve written on this site how I believe Freo are future giants in the league, another statement that resulted in me copping a bit of flak. And now, all of a sudden, my predictions are coming true – yet I don’t feel like gloating, nor the usual pride in getting such a long-sighted tip right.
All I feel is a sense of dull disbelief, topped up with a healthy dose of cynicism.
Fremantle under Ross Lyon has nearly taken half the season to fully work to the ‘Lyon Cage’ game plan, emphasising the defensive lockdown of teams, but it looks as though they’ve perfected it at the right time of year.
Their win against Geelong should be considered the best finals win to date, and unless some other upset occurs between now and Hawthorn lifting the Cup at September’s end, it will remain just that.
Taking out Geelong in Melbourne is a hard ask, but is made even harder when you a) have to cross the continent to do so, and b) do it at the Cats’ favourite time of year, when everything else is forgotten and all that matters is winning the crucial matches.
Fremantle did this and did it emphatically. The game players have clicked to the game plan, the captain is finally leading like we’ve all wanted him to for years, the ruthlessness lacking from previous Dockers teams is very much in evident, and that poxy red, green and anchor combo is gone!
So why do I still not feel comfortable in this rise I apparently predicted?
Well, because it’s Freo.
They’re like the AFL finals equivalent of dark matter – we know they’re there, we can see them, but damned if we understand what they’re doing there. If they move past Adelaide on Friday night, it will mark two fantastic finals achievements in as many weeks, defeating a sore and sorry Adelaide keen for redemption on their home deck.
But past that, who knows? Called they make the grand final? Based on current form I can’t see why not. Can they push for the top four next year? Well, again, I can’t see why not.
So why am I struggling to get on the bandwagon? Well, until Freo prove themselves worthy, they’ll remain un-tippable.
That is, until my yearly pre-season predictions are sent in.
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