Fremantle this season have had the unique honour of getting to play games at every venue used to play AFL games at the moment. Their visit to Docklands was the last stadium that they needed to complete the full set. Of course, they weren't allowed to train on the ground the day before the game, because that would have damaged the turf too much. Apparently a bunch of guys running around on the ground would have done more damage than the 56,000 people who went there for the wrestling a couple of weeks ago. Either that or the wrestling people paid more for the use of the ground. But I digress.
And speaking of digressions, I'm going to get some off field stuff off my chest before I start the match review, so anyone who actually reads these match reviews (yeah, right!) should probably skip the next few paragraphs.
My first digression is to Clem Michael. Clem was in the papers on Saturday announcing his retirement (again) and explaining how harshly Fremantle had treated him. After a few attempts to get back into footy over the last year or so, Clem has admitted defeat. The tone of the article indicated that he was feeling quite aggreived towards the club, and was even considering legal action. Apparently he feels that he shouldn't have played on during 2000, and that the games he played during that year caused irreparable damage to his knee. My take on that is that his attitude has probably changed in the two or so years he has been out of the game, and a vague feeling of things not being 100% when he was playing has crystallised into a clear feeling of being hard done by, now that he has more time on his hands. Anyway, I do feel sorry for him - he's been very unlucky with the way things have turned out - but my sympathies will disappear pretty rapidly if and when he starts a court case.
The good news for Fremantle was that Pavlich signed a three year contract sometime on Friday or Saturday. I have no idea how much the deal is worth, although apparently he did have other offers from other clubs that involved more money. Based on his performance a couple of weeks ago it wouldn't want to have been much, but he was much better in this game, so it is a good thing. If nothing else, its a good thing because it gives a clear indication that Freo have plans and aspirations to build a team based on the young talent they already have, which I do think is the way to go.
After a bit of working out, I had calculated that, coming into this round of football, Fremantle were still a remote chance of making the finals. All that was required was for West Coast, Essendon and Hawthorn to lose this week, and for Freo to win. West Coast and Hawthorn both lived up to their end of the bargain, so it was up to Freo to win this game to keep their finals hopes alive.
Naturally, Freo didn't win the game, and so it all became academic, but at least they weren't totally disgraced either.
As I mentioned earlier, this game was played at Docklands, a.k.a. Colonial Stadium. There was an announcement recently that Telstra have bought the naming rights to the satdium, so from next year on it will become known as the "Telstra Dome". Thats a shocker of a name, but no less than the venue deserves. The surface for this game was pretty dismal, which I reckon disadvantaged Freo, since they were the only ones who were attempting to play creatively for most of the game. Of course, I could be biased on that. Nevertheless, there is something depressing about watching a player attempt an act of skill, only to have the grass move from under him, and him end up face down in the sand. Still, Fremantle managed to escape the game without collecting any serious injuries, so I guess the surface must be fine, right?
The story of the game really started with the first quarter. The umpires managed to pay ten free kicks to Essendon during the quarter, including two for Freo players running too far, and one against Jeff Farmer for kicking in danger. Its been a long, long while since I've seen free kicks paid for either of those things. The running too far thing particulaly irked me when there was an incident later in the game when Barnard marked about 25m from goal, played on, ran around his man and then kicked the goal from point blank range. Even ignoring the steps he took to get around his opponent, he still must have run too far. Of course, it'd take a brave (read suicidal) umpire to pay the free there, but it was there.
Fremantle were still right in it at three quarter time, when they were only 14 points behind. In the end, though, Essendon were able to do just enough to hang for a win.
Final Score : Essendon 13.15-93 beat Fremantle 10.12-72.
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