- Created on Tuesday, 04 June 2013 16:38
- Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 June 2013 16:53
- Hits: 253
Freo flag is no fantasy
Docker power: Fremantle's Michael Barlow (left) and Cameron Sutcliffe celebrate a goal. Photo: Getty Images
If they were deciding the AFL premiership for performance in the face of adversity, Fremantle would just about have the 2013 flag already in its keeping.
The Dockers sit fourth on the ladder with seven wins and a draw from 10 starts, one of the two losses by just four points, and all without their No. 1 ruckman, two of his obvious replacements, their captain and runner-up in last year's Coleman Medal, plus their second most important forward and a key midfielder.
It's been a stoic effort, typified by Saturday's gutsy away win over a determined Adelaide. And when you consider that resilience, the draw ahead and the talent still to return to the Dockers' line-up, it becomes clearer that Fremantle has a very realistic chance of ending up not just with "honourable premiership" this season, but the real thing.
It seems every football year needs a team that isn't talked about much but ends up being a very real premiership chance. Now that Sydney, the traditional holder of that mantle, is back to its very best, it's Freo fitting the bill.
Why? Perhaps it's a legacy of the popular perception of those old flaky Dockers, too dependent on the superstars, and a significantly weaker outfit away from Subiaco than at home. Neither of which has been the case for a while under the brilliant coaching of Ross Lyon.
The "Fremantle can't win the flag" stories were being written this year as early as February when Aaron Sandilands tore a hamstring tendon during the NAB Cup, a month after gun midfielder Anthony Morabito was sentenced to a third knee reconstruction.
The Dockers were "gone for all money" when captain Matthew Pavlich required Achilles surgery after just three games. "Shot to ribbons" after Sandilands' replacements Kepler Bradley and Jonathon Griffin went down for the season within a fortnight of each other. And for the past two games they have been without leading goalkicker Michael Walters.
Yet, still Freo finds a way to win. It did it again at AAMI Stadium after the Crows had hit the front, with under 12 minutes left on the clock and with their "19th men" in full voice.
They did it against Collingwood after the Magpies had gone into the final term with all the momentum. And in round eight they retrieved a 27-point deficit against the Swans with just over 10 minutes left to pinch a draw.
That's fair evidence that Freo's psyche is these days a major calling card rather than a handicap. So is its record on the road under Lyon, which in a season-and-a-half stands at 17 interstate trips for just six losses.
The Dockers have just one player, Michael Barlow, in the competition's top 20 for average disposals. But they do have Barlow, David Mundy, Nat Fyfe and Stephen Hill as a group winning plenty of ball. And a critical shot of more outside run in Danyle Pearce.
There's Ryan Crowley pulling down the shutters on key opposition playmakers. Hard nuts like Tendai Mzungu, Clancee Pearce and Matt De Boer contributing even more. And a very well-organised defence led by Michael Johnson and Garrick Ibbotson.
Most of them remain far from household names. But as has been said often about Lyon's teams, personnel is secondary to system. And that personnel is going to get a lot, lot better after the break with the return of Pavlich, Walters, Sandilands and perhaps even Morabito, all within a matter of weeks.
Now consider the road ahead. Next week, Fremantle has a well-earned bye. Over the following month, it plays Brisbane Lions, North Melbourne, Geelong and St Kilda, the assignment against the Cats the only one away from home and the only one for which it won't start a warm favourite.
After that, it's the Derby, of which the Dockers have won nine of the last dozen, Richmond, Adelaide, Carlton, then the cosiest run to the finals imaginable, consisting of GWS, Melbourne, Port Adelaide and St Kilda.
Even conservatively, Fremantle is looking at ending the regular season with 16½ wins. That's a top four spot locked away. And you need only to remember last year's job against Geelong at the MCG come September to know the equation doesn't even have to be all about earning home finals.
Lyon's team deserves enormous credit for what it's done so far this season. And it's a very realistic chance to be earning a lot more four months from now, too.
- Created on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 10:39
- Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 10:39
- Hits: 436
The Round 7 AFL Sydney Rising Star nominee is Wade Blackburne of the Balmain Dockers.
Wade, who played his junior football up in Nelson Bay, came to the Dockers last year to follow in his fathers footsteps and is one who has really moved through the ranks during his time there. After a handful of Premier Division games in 2012, Blackburne has been a permanent fixture up forward for the Premier Division side this year playing all seven games.
Coach Leigh Conway has been impressed by Blackburne this season, “Wade has been a huge revelation this year. He has been forced into playing out of his comfort zone as a key forward and has relished the role. He continues to grow and work hard on his game and we now consider him to be our X factor and an important part of our forward line.“
Last weekend Blackburne kicked three great goals for the Dockers and played a key role in the sides comeback win over Illawarra. His spark up forward and great finishing ensured the Dockers claimed their second win of the season.
Round 1 — Thomas Thurgarland (Manly-Warringah)
Round 2 — Levi Sands (Western Suburbs)
Round 3 — Callum Johnston (Manly Warringah)
Round 4 – Jordan Etto (Campbelltown)
Round 5 – Jake Monk (North Shore)
Round 6 – Alex O’Dea (Sydney University)
- Created on Monday, 27 May 2013 10:49
- Last Updated on Monday, 27 May 2013 10:49
- Hits: 476
Balmain Dockers Women started the weekend in grand style on Saturday with a 114 point demolition of Newtown Breakaways.
Goal Kickers: C. McDonald 3, L. Holdsworth 3, K. Fitzsimmons 3, E. Davison 2, B. Pride 2, K. Spilarewicz 2, K. Rawnsley, A. Deslandes, J. Thorpe
Best Players: L. Holdsworth, N. Spangher, K. Fitzsimmons, A. Parkin, O. Hall, E. Davison
Goal Kickers: L. Ferrier Gantner
Best Players: V. Iles, G. Verkuylen, T. Noble, M. Bova, A. Schroder, N. Garrety
Under 18s continued their fine recent form and cemented 4th place on the ladder with a solid 34 point win over Moorebank Magpies on Sunday morning.
Goal Kickers: M. Byers 3, B. Wilkinson, A. Robertson, D. Adams, E. Adcock, N. Garrick
Best Players: J. Cass, B. Plug, N. Garrick, M. Byers, E. Adcock, E. Woodend
Goal Kickers: H. Mitchell 2, L. Vehlow, I. Carrera, B. Wicken
Best Players: M. Stojanovski, R. Payne, Z. Podbury, D. Hansen, J. Bryant, M. Radecki
Reserve Grade survived a 3rd quarter surge from the Illawarra Lions before a solid last quarter brought home a 31 point first win for the season.
Goal Kickers: R. Johnston 3, R. Tyrrell 2, D. Forbes, D. Barbera, A. Duell-Ferguson, R. Chin, J. Farrell, S. Wallwork, R. Hezlett, T. Bicknell, T. Ryan
Best Players: R. Johnston, P. Tennant, B. Thomson, R. Tyrrell, T. Bicknell, B. Arndell
Goal Kickers: D. Koop 3, Z. Swander 2, J. Gray 2, J. Irvin-Collins, S. Hancock
Best Players: Z. Swander, J. Gray, D. Koop, P. Lloyd, S. Hancock, S. Jenner
First Grade capped of a wonderful weekend for the Balmain Dockers with a come from behind 26 point win over the Illawarra Lions in the Match of the Round at Henson Park on Sunday. The Dockers were down by 5 points at half time but produced a shutout of the Lions in the 2nd half to notch their second win of the season.
Goal Kickers: W. Blackburne 3, B. Plug 3, S. Lee-Steere 2, J. Britton, L. Conway, N. Whitehead, J. Cass
Best Players: J. Cass, S. Lee-Steere, L. Conway, S. Bowen, D. Lloyd, J. Farrell
Goal Kickers: K. Ewen-Chappel 4, J. Roebuck, D. McClure, J. Daniher, B. Herdman, J. Tier
Best Players: K. Ewen-Chappel, D. Goodley, T. Green, T. Walsh, J. Tier, D. Jefferis
- Created on Friday, 24 May 2013 11:38
- Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 11:38
- Hits: 472
- Created on Thursday, 23 May 2013 21:20
- Last Updated on Monday, 27 May 2013 10:31
- Hits: 446
Laws of the Game Charter
As part of a consultation phase to formalise the key elements of the game, the AFL has launched an online survey to capture the views of key stakeholders and fans after the initial process of meeting with players, coaches and clubs seeking feedback across a range of areas related to the Laws of the Game.
The survey has today been made available online via the AFL website and AFL Facebook page, giving fans the opportunity to provide feedback on their vision for the game and the elements of Australian football that should be set in stone.
Following the comprehensive consultation process, the Laws of the Game Committee will draw up a Charter based on feedback across the industry before presenting it to the AFL Commission for ratification.
AFL Laws of the Game Committee Chairman, Mark Evans, said the Charter would establish a reference point against which potential rule change recommendations in the future would be assessed.
“The rules that govern our game are some of the more frequently discussed and debated topics in football due to the passion of supporters and because of the evolving way our sporting code is played,” Mr. Evans said.
“People often ask what vision does the AFL have for the game, and what is the style of play we wish to nurture and develop. For this reason, we are developing a Charter for the Laws of the Game, which will formalise the key elements of what makes Australian football a unique and entertaining spectacle.
“We have already begun this feedback process with players, coaches and clubs. The Charter will be developed in consultation with all stakeholders, including supporters, and following endorsement by the AFL Commission, it will become the reference point by which the Laws of the Game Committee recommends any future changes.
“One key element of this process is feedback and we want to hear from key stakeholders, including fans, detailing what they like and dislike about the current rules and style of play, as well as understand which elements of our game should be enshrined, never to be changed. This input will help shape the Laws of the Game Charter and thereby how Australian football is played now and in the future.”
The Laws of the Game Charter survey is available now online – fans wishing to provide feedback are encouraged to go to