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Western Australian football has celebrated a long and successful history in its own right. Annual state of origin clashes took place between the states of Victoria, South Australia and WA. Great rivalries were formed as the game’s elite represented their respective states.The AFL could only be established once teams beyond the Victorian border entered the competition. Following other interstate teams such as Sydney (1982), West Coast Eagles (1987) and Adelaide Crows (1991), Fremantle (nicknamed the “Dockers“) were the fourth non-Victorian to join the AFL in 1995.
Western Australian football fans were delighted to have a second WA team in the national competition. Fremantle’s football history dates back to the 1880′s. Two clubs represented the Fremantle area in the Western Australian Football League (WAFL); East Fremantle and South Fremantle. Both very strong clubs, they participated in their own state’s competetition prior for over a century prior to AFL involvement.
The clubs initial AFL success was modest with the club struggling near the bottom of the ladder for several seasons. The 2003 season saw Fremantle make its AFL final debut versus Essendon in a losing elimination final. The dockers failed to reach the finals in ’04 and ’05, however broke the drought in 2006. Finishing the home and away season in 3rd position with 15 wins, Fremantle could celebrate its most successful AFL season thus far. They lost to Adelaide in a qualifying final, however with a double chance won their first AFL final over Melbourne at Patersons Stadium. The following week they lost to Sydney at ANZ Stadium in their first ever preliminary final. Fremantle had finally proven their competitiveness on the AFL stage.
Since 2007 Matthew Pavlich has captained the club. Of All-Australian status, Pavlich is an exeptional player and inspirational leader. Since joing the AFL other high profile players include giant ruckman Aaron Sandilands, former captains Peter Bell and Shaun McManus, Clive Waterhouse, Jeff Farmer, Luke McPharlin and Hayden Ballantyne.
In 2011 Fremantle started strongly, winning five out of the first six matches. They lost key players to injury including ruckman Aaron Sandilands mid season. They slumped badly in the second part of 2011, losing their last seven games. Mark Harvey was dismissed as coach at seasons end with Ross Lyon leaving St Kilda to take over the role in controversial fashion.
Fremantle is poised to gain a finals berth under new coach Ross Lyon this season. They are just outside of the final eight on 44 points. With a good run home they stand to break into the eight and gain a finals berth. It will be exciting to see if they can achieve this feat with Essendon and North Melboune just above them on the ladder.
Records & Achievements
Most games played: 275, Matthew Pavlich
Most goals overall: 546, Matthew Pavlich
Most goals in season: 72, Matthew Pavlich (2007)
Highest score: 28.12 (180) v Collingwood 10.8 (68), May 8, 2005, Patersons Stadium
Brownlow winners: Nil
Current prominent players: Matthew Pavlich, Aaron Sandilands, Michael Barlow, Clancee Pearce, Hayden Ballantyne.
Past prominent players: Peter Bell, Shaun McManus, Clive Waterhouse, Jeff Farmer.
Stadium: Patersons Stadium