Fremantle fans will watch on with more than a hint of pride and passion as their beloved club runs out for the 500th time when it takes on Geelong in round one of the 2017 season.
It’s fair to say the Dockers have had more pain than pleasure in the previous 499 games, but that’s not to say Fremantle’s AFL journey hasn’t been without highlights.
Particularly in recent years, where the club won its first minor premiership, crowned its first Brownlow medallist and appeared in its first, and so far only, grand final.
In honour of the Dockers’ 500th game in the AFL, proud Fremantle fan Justin Rake looks back at the club’s three best, and three worst, performances. Top 3 best performances
3. Pav’s farewell – Round 22, 2016 v Western Bulldogs
There was an outpouring of emotion at Domain Stadium in the club’s final game of last season when Fremantle fans said goodbye to the best, and most loyal, player in their club’s 20-year history. Six-time Doig Medallist Matthew Pavlich booted his 700th goal in his 353rd and final match for the Dockers to cap a memorable career.
While 2016 was arguably the Dockers worst season, following the biggest fall from grace in AFL history, the players were able to lift one final time for Pavlich – a display made even better by the fact the win was over the eventual premiers.
2. The 2013 Preliminary Final v Sydney
After suffering a disappointing defeat to Sydney in the club’s first ever preliminary final back in 2006, Fremantle’s second appearance on the second-last weekend of the season saw a vastly different result against the same opposition.
Fremantle welcomed the Swans to Perth with a ferocious display of pressure never before seen in the AFL. The Dockers players’ harassment of their opposition was so fierce it’s surprising they didn’t receive a court summons. A packed out purple crowd celebrated with tears of joy when their side won through to their first grand final.
1. The 2013 Qualifying Final v Geelong
No one, not even the most diehard fans in purple haze, thought the Dockers would win this game at Simmonds Stadium against a hot-to-trot Geelong side that finished second on the AFL ladder. Fremantle defied the odds and a 13-point quarter time deficit to dominate the second half of the game to claim an historic victory. Fremantle fans will never forget the Basil Zempilas call as Stephen Hill ran down the wing to kick the sealing goal and send the club into its first home preliminary final.
The ‘Demolition Derby’ – Round 21, 2000 v West Coast
Michael Gardiner might have set the tone of this match by hitting an 18-year-old Pavlich behind play before the ball had even been bounced, but it was the Dockers who won the day. Fremantle won a spiteful encounter by a solitary point with Dale Kickett smashing several West Coast players and Clive Waterhouse starring with seven goals.
Round 21, 2005 v St Kilda
Justin Longmuir’s goal after the siren to keep Fremantle’s flickering finals hopes alive, and the crazy crowd celebrations that ensued, will always be remembered as one of the greatest moments in the Dockers’ history. Top 3 worst performances
3. The 2015 preliminary final v Hawthorn
This one was especially painful to watch. Finally, Fremantle had the Hawks on their own home ground and had an extra week off to get themselves right and prepare for battle against the two-time reigning premiers.
Fremantle had had a shaky to end to the 2015 regular season, but had just secured its first ever minor premiership and had a real shot at reaching its second ever decider. However, in the end, pretty much everything that could have gone wrong did and the Hawks edged out the Dockers, and then their cross-town rivals West Coast, to complete an historic three-peat.
2. Round 18, 2014 v St Kilda
As a Fremantle tragic, I can safely say this was the stinkiest performance I’ve ever seen the Dockers dish up. Fremantle was a top four side, in contention for a premiership, and was expected to easily account for the cellar-dwelling Saints with the finals just around the corner.
It should have been a cakewalk, but instead became a stunning upset as Nick Riewoldt ran rampart as St Kilda almost doubled Fremantle’s score, 118-60. To this day, this game remains the only time I have ever changed the channel on a Dockers game.
1. The 2013 Grand Final v Hawthorn
There’s a good reason why I hate Hawthorn as much as I do the Dockers’ cross-town rivals West Coast. It’s because the Hawks are responsible for inflicting the most pain on Fremantle supporters when it matters – in the finals.
It might be a touch unfair to have this game on top of the list, since Fremantle defied the odds to make it all the way to the grand final, but the Dockers kicked themselves out of a premiership with their performance against Hawthorn. It took them till the third quarter to find their feet and get going and when they did the Hawks were able to quickly get things under control again.
Fremantle’s golden opportunity to claim its inaugural premiership and once and for all end the ‘How many flags have you won?’ comments from Eagles’ fans went begging with a disappointing display on the biggest stage of all.
Round 5, 2016 v Carlton
Owen four became Owen five, and Fremantle lost Nat Fyfe for the season. A real “ugh” moment for the Dockers faithful and the realisation that they were in for an extremely rough season.
Round 19, 2016 v Sydney
Matthew Pavlich’s 350th game didn’t take long to become an embarrassment for the Dockers, as they were flogged to the tune of 90 points at home. The only saving grace was Pavlich himself managing to kick two goals in the midst of the carnage.
What do you think? Is Justin on the money with his best and worst Fremantle performances? What is your favourite Dockers’ memory? Post a comment below.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.