Biggest comeback since Seabiscuit 7 September 2006
“At the weekend, the thrashing Adelaide gave bottom-placed Essendon and the come-from-behind wins of West Coast, Collingwood and Sydney against out-of-the-eight teams indicate the season is over for all except this quartet of winners.“
I went back and found this quote from June 6 so that I could write the ensuing article about Fremantle Football Club – the Dockers (and give myself a rap too).
Of Adelaide, West Coast, Sydney and Collingwood, I’m only wrong by one as to the top 4 and there is only one stumbling block to which one will win the 2006 AFL flag.
The emergence of Fremantle from outcast wannabees to second favourite for the flag has been one of the greatest turnarounds in my sporting knowledge.
Bookies don’t price things 150 to 1 for no reason and that’s what price they were nine weeks ago.
Nine wins later the Dockers are 4 to 1 ($5) equal second favourites to win the premiership and pre-game favourite to beat second-placed Adelaide in Adelaide on Saturday.
My daughter, Ella, a committed Docker fan summed it all up for me after her team dispatched Port Adelaide last weekend.
“Dad, even when Port Adelaide jumped us to an early lead, you don’t know what it feels like ‘knowing’ your team is still going to win. I have had years of being resigned to us getting beaten even when we have established big leads. Sunday I just went to the game knowing we would win. It’s a great feeling.”
Welcome Ella to the world of West Coast Eagles supporters.
At the risk of infuriating Docker fans universally, Fremantle are playing West Coast football. They have finally got their set up right and they switch play from their back line to the fat side of the ground where they have men waiting in a conga line to bring the ball down the wing and into the main corridor towards half forward.
They have a dominant ruckman; a key on baller getting the ball in the attacking part of the ground and beginning to kick goals again; a range of key forwards who can take a mark; some great defensive midfielders; and a small forward who is in sensational touch.
If this blog had existed two years ago or even last year, Jeff Farmer would have a column all to himself.
My disgust at this man knew no bounds. Every time he was knocked over or tackled he would leap to his feet protesting to the umpire or remonstrating with the tackler.
Farmer’s worst feature was his determination to marshal the forward line, constantly pointing to where people should be and where they should be kicking – mostly to him. You could see it upset some members of his team.
I was so pissed off about this awful little man that I sought out a Fremantle insider and asked if Farmer had a leadership role within the club or at least their forward line. “No” was the firm reply.
However, a lot of this has changed. I have begun to admire this player and his goals and goal assists in the recent Derby should have earned him best-on-ground status.
That the medal’s namesake, Ross Glendinning, failed to give Farmer even one vote was a disgrace. His influence on the result was paramount.
Yet he is still a combative person who winds up the opposition crowd and it’s hard to like him unless you’re one of the Purple Army.
But he does give Fremantle a potent option towards goal and is drawing a quality opposition defender each week. More power to him as Fremantle advance.
For a West Coast fan that’s hard to say but I want to be objective even if it is on the eve of the finals.
West Coast may not win this year’s premiership and if Fremantle do it will be hard to cop the celebrations of their long-suffering supporters.
However, if they do win and ruin that June 6 prediction, the effort will be worth a movie in the Seabiscuit (2003) mould. Is Gene Hackman too old to play Chris Connolly? Great comebacks are hard to resist.
FOOTNOTE: West Coast beat Sydney Swans in an exciting grand final.