Star Fremantle midfielder Caleb Serong is daring to dream of flag success in the not too distant future, and says a finals appearance in 2022 is well within the team’s grasp.
Fremantle’s first televised match on Channel Seven this year saw the Dockers stumble against a switched-on Richmond outfit.
The Tigers’ blistering start coincided with the Dockers’ shabby performance, who had otherwise dominated first quarters this season.
The team seemed shell-shocked by the accurate Tigers, as only Nat Fyfe and Aaron Sandilands carried on in their usual manner.
But was it shell shock or stage fright?
This isn’t a one-off either; remember the semi-final against Port Adelaide last year? Poor kicking and timid football resulted in a brave and hard-running Power snatching a preliminary final spot over the more fancied Dockers.
Then there was the 2013 grand final against the Hawks, where the Dockers’ early jitters in front of goal ultimately decided the 15-point final margin.
All this season, most have only heard about the improved Dockers, who have found avenues to goal other than Matthew Pavlich and can constantly perform in all areas. Yet when the brightest spotlight possible, millions of people nationwide, is being trained on them, they fumble the ball like it’s a bar of soap.
It surely must be frustrating for Fremantle supporters to see their team collapse in a heap when the whole football nation is watching.
Fremantle are still certainly a premiership contender. They have a superb defence (when they can get them all on the park), one of the best, if not the best, midfields in the league, and a potent forward line.
The problem will be when they make finals and the eyes of the nation are focused on them. To win a flag they must perform in front of 100,000 people within their general vicinity, as well as several million eyes watching them through numerous screens.
They don’t have the skill and class of Hawthorn, the sheer brilliance of Sydney, or even the Richmond’s hard running, but they sure put on a lot of pressure.
However, until Fremantle can overcome their stage fright on national free-to-air television, they won’t capture the first premiership they desire so desperately.