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Opinion

AFL top 100: Champions of Fremantle

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Roar Rookie
9th April, 2020
41

There are only four ways a player can gain immortality in AFL football: make your debut as a player in a club’s first-ever AFL game, play in an AFL club’s last ever game, kick a goal with your first kick or kick a goal after the siren to win the game.

Quenton Leach, who died too young at the age of 47 on 6 April 2020 and is possibly the first Docker top 100 to pass on, achieved two of these.
Drafted to the Fremantle Dockers in the club’s first year in the AFL in 1995, Leach ran out on to the ground with the Dockers in the club’s first game against Richmond on Saturday, 1 April, at the MCG. The Dockers led by four points at quarter-time but eventually lost by five. Leach was not disgraced, laying the equal most tackles with captain Ben Allan and finishing in the top ten in disposals.

However, his greatest moment of individual glory came in his 40th game in the 1997 season against Brisbane at Subiaco when he kicked a goal after the siren to give the Dockers victory by five points.

Leach missed only one game in that season but played only three more games in 1998. His league career was over with 56 games and 26 goals to his credit. These stats are sufficient to rank him in the top 100 game players and goal scorers at Fremantle in 78th and 69th position respectively but not enough to see him ranked as one of the best three players the club has produced in their quarter of a century in the AFL.

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The undisputed champion player in terms of both statistics and achievements is Matthew Pavlich, who retired at the end of 2016 having played 353 games and kicked exactly 700 goals.

A South Australian and son of a champion SANFL footballer, Pavlich nominated for the draft in 1998 as a 17-year-old and was strangely overlooked. However, in the 1999 draft he was chosen as No. 4 in the draft, and his career was underway. He debuted in Round 5 of the 2000 season against Melbourne and kicked goals with his first two kicks.

He was not out of the team for the remainder of the year and from then on was the shining light in the Fremantle Football Club, used by successive coaches to plug holes wherever they appeared in the teams make-up. He was used in defence, on the ball and at centre half-forward and full-forward. His ability to play all positions against all players made him possibly the league’s best utility player ever but robbed him of the opportunity to win the Coleman Medal in both 2007 and 2012 when he finished second. He won six best and fairest medals and eight leading goalkicker awards and captained the club for nine years, including the 2013 grand final loss to Hawthorn.

Second to Pavlich in the number of games played is current-day player and former captain David Mundy. Mundy took over the captaincy for one year after Pavlich retired before handing over to Nat Fyfe. He became the second Docker to achieve 30 games and now sits only 37 games behind the great man, but he is the age Pavlich was when he retired (34) and missed the one game played in 2020 so far through injury so may not reach the top of the tree before retiring. Mundy has been a great servant to the club, winning a best and fairest and making the All Australian team in his 16 years at the Dockers.

Aaron Sandilands, at No. 3 on the Docker’s top 100 game players list, is the tallest, heaviest and oldest to ever play for the club. He won two best and fairest medals and made All Australian selection on four occasions.

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