There’s no footy. Andy Lee is hosting live streams of the abomination that is the Australian Dice Football League. Brian Taylor’s resorted to commentating traffic and other everyday events.
What better time to seek out some off-kilter and slightly unhinged reasons to watch each club in 2020?
Hey you. Yes, you. That’s right, I’m looking at you, the Victorian-centric AFL fan cohort. That’s right, the ‘pampered’ ones. I don’t think you appreciate just how good ‘Sonny’ Walters is. Let’s be honest, you know Fremantle has Nat Fyfe, St Kilda fans are aware of Bradley Hill now that he’s theirs and a host of Richmond fans remember David Mundy because he kicked a goal to beat them after the siren in 2017. After that? Precisely.
On a side note, how great are sweeping generalities in sports writing?
But don’t just take my word for it on Walters’ skill set. Let’s examine some cold, hard stats. He’s a five-time Fremantle leading goal kicker. And, yes, one of those he won with 22, but Matthew Pavlich won with 28 in 2009, so it’s not always a huge total. He made the All Australian team last season after 479 touches and 40 goals, and he’s averaged 17.05 possessions and 1.7 goals a game over his career. Comparatively, Toby Greene has figures of 22.84 and 1.16, Charlie Cameron rolls in with 12.24 and 1.5, Jordan de Goey 16.73 and 1.34, Chad Wingard 18.35 and 1.52, Luke Breust 14.74 and 1.9, and Robbie Gray 20.16 and 1.45.
One of the greatest wrestling storylines ever envisaged was in the late 1990s, when The Undertaker and his ministry would wreak havoc on the bidding of a mysterious hooded ‘higher power’. This culminated in the kidnapping of Stephanie McMahon, daughter of head honcho Vince, for a ‘Black Wedding’ that was interrupted by Stone Cold Steve Austin, who singlehandedly took down the ministry in what was without a doubt the greatest two-and-a-bit-minute sequence of 11-year-old me’s life.
What does all this have to do with Fremantle’s two-time Brownlow Medallist? Well, recently Fyfe is Stone Cold, to many seemingly carrying the hopes and dreams of thousands of supporters on his very capable shoulders alone. The ministry is the rest of the AFL, looking to crush the Dockers dreams of success.
Vince McMahon? Ross Lyon. After all, it turned out Vince was the ‘higher power’ all along, and to many Lyon actively sabotaged his team through the implementation of his tactics. Plus Lyon reeked of chaotic energy during press conferences. There you have it. Wrestling (and football) education complete.
Rory Lobb and Sean Darcy
Aaron Sandilands played football for far longer than anyone who’s 211 centimetres should, amassing 271 games across 17 seasons. I’m sore just thinking about it. Having finally decided he’d had enough of dragging his gargantuan frame around ovals, in 2020 Sandy has put an official title to what he’s been doing at Fremantle – and the entire competition – for a long time: schooling people in the art of rucking. Or, as Fremantle likes to call it, specialist ruck coach.
That leaves the Dockers with an exciting mano-a-mano contest between the Thermidor and Regency-era heartbreaker Mr Darcy. If those nicknames need explanations, please see me in the comments section. In the red corner you have Lobb, a 206-centimetre 90-gamer who has spent a fair portion of his career inside the forward 50 playing second fiddle to Shane Mumford. In the blue corner is Darcy, a 202-centimetre 27-gamer who’s impressed in his brief career.
Who will emerge victorious? Or, more likely, who will fall victim to the lures of the Gold Coast hub?
There’s nothing I appreciate more than some left-of-field recruiting tactics. Building a side is often a loveless task – the players and coaches are lumped with the credit whatever the result – but to this I say: no more!
I hadn’t quite realised the extent to which David Walls – and before him, Mark Micallef and Brad Lloyd – had revolutionised Fremantle, but a quick skim of the playing list reveals a rich tapestry of potential: Taylin Duman, Tobe Watson, Jarvis Pina, Leno Thomas, Bailey Banfield, Reece Conca. Ably supported by a rare subset of players named in homage of former players: Brennan Cox, Griffin Logue, Sean Darcy and Lloyd Meek. High-performing-naming by the parents, elite recruiting by the club.
Traditionalists, never fear. You can be assured they threw in a Jason, a Tom and an Alex to balance things out.
Freo Heave Ho
A deep dive into Fremantle’s history is a staggeringly surreal experience. Exhibit A: their original mascot, Grinder, who ‘lived’ from 1995 til 1999. Described on Wikipedia as “a cartoonlike docker man … with a permanent snarl, oversized jaw and muscular arms”. Described in other corners of the web as “Popeye with a peptides addiction”. Google him. Don’t thank me later.
Exhibit B: Between 1997 and 2010 Fremantle were banned from using the term ‘Dockers’ on any club merchandise as Levi Strauss already had a clothing line called this, preventing Fremantle from using their own nickname.
Finally, exhibit C: Freo Heave Ho. A jaunty contemporary rock anthem of a club song that cheerily refers to “sending them down below”, and, “if they get up, we’ll do it again”. Overtones of maritime murder aside, it’s a cheery enough romp surprisingly based on a Russian folk song, Song of the Volga Boatmen.
In 2011 Eskimo Joe tried to write a new one called Freo Freo. The campaign fell on deaf ears, which was to be expected considering the ongoing crime against aural arts committed by Fremantle since 1995.