Following the game against Carlton I had pretty much reached the conclusion that I was not good company while at the footy, so I didn't try too hard to encourage the lovely Caroline to come to this game. As things turned out, Freo won, and so I would have been happy, although still not necessarily good company, but no sane person would have tipped a Freo victory before the game. Since Hawthorn fans are all the spawn of Satan, and I don't know any other Dockers fans in Melbourne, this meant that I went to the game by myself, which is something I very seldom do.
Hawthorn didn't exactly endear themselves to me when I arrived at the Docklands to find that they had decided not to open the Level 4 seats at all, and that most of the better Level 1 seats were set aside for their members. In the end most of the members seating did get occupied, but when I arrived there were plenty of empty seats that I wasn't allowed to sit in. I wandered past what I think was reserved seating for Freo members. One guy sitting in there already invited me in, and I was just irritated enough with the way the seating had been arranged to take him up on the offer. So the end result was that I sat surrounded by Freo supporters, which is definitely a bizarre experience for me.
The whole experience of having other supporters cheering for the same side as me was really brought hometo me in the first couple of minutes when a holding the ball decision was paid against Hawthorn right in front of us. It was really quite strange to not feel like the only person in the ground calling "ballll .... yeah". Of course the Hawthorn fans were less impressed. There were only 4 rows of Freo members, so it wasn't too hard to pick up the reactions of the Hawthorn fans too. This became more fun as the game wore on, and it became clearer to the fans that it wasn't all going well for their team.
The first score of the game was a goal to Chick, who followed up his goal by taking himself to the bench, where they found out he'd pulled a hammy and he couldn't come back. At that stage it didn't seem like a problem, as Hawthorn were in the process of building a 7 goal to 2 first quarter. To say that the first quarter was all Hawthorn would be over-stating the case. Freo actually got a fair bit of the ball, but the difference between the two teams was in their respective forward lines. The only people taking marks inside Freo's 50m arc were Jade Rawlings and Jonathon Hay, while up the other Aaron Lord was giving Leight Brown an absolute bath.
Early in the second quarter it looked like the process was continuing, and it was just going to be a question of how far Hawthorn won by. The Hawks managed to kick away to a 41 point lead. At about this stage Heath Black managed to get himself reported not once, not twice, but three times. Two of those reports were only for wrestling though, so he wasn't being as brutal as it sounds. On one of the incidents he managed to break Tim Clarke's collarbone, so at that stage Hawthorn were two players down.
For us Freo fans highlights were looking a bit scarce, but a definite highlight occurred during the second quarter when Brendan Fewster absolutely flattened Shane Crawford. The sight of The Pretty Boy being knocked aside was greeted by a rousing cheer from all around me. Apparently the Pretty One got a corky from that clash, and he was unable to continue after half time, which was a bit unfortunate, but thats football. Quite apart from that though, the twin towers of Fewster and Pavlich in the Freo forward line started to give the midfielders something to kick to, and in the second half of the second quarter the Dockers started to claw their way back into the game. They kicked three of the last four goals for the quarter, including a long bomb from the Pav after the half time siren, and they only trailed by 5 goals at half time.
The Freo fightback in the second half of the quarter was convincing enough for one wag near me to suggest that Hawthorn should be "feeling the fear" in reference to BenAllan's comments that Freo's games were all tough because all the other sides were afraid they would be the ones to lose to them. If thats true, the Dockers should have an easy run to the end of the season now, so we can expect a couple more wins, right?
In many ways the second half became the Justin Longmuir (J. Lo.) show. He kicked five second half goals after BenAllan moved him up forward, and definitely most people will remember him as the architect of the Freo win. But I reckon that is selling Eastaugh a little short. Considering he started the season as Freo's fourth choice ruckman (behind Clem Michael, J. Lo. and Bandy) it was a pretty good effort from him to at least break even with Nathan Thompson and Sean Rehn so that J. Lo. was freed up to go forward. Sure, this was Rehn's first game back after injury, and he was a long, long way from his best, but even so, we couldn't have done it without him.
The last quarter was nerve-wracking stuff. Freo have gone close only to be blown away in the last few minutes of the game many, many times this year and for a long while there was at least a chance that this one would go that way too. The difference this time around was, in my opinion, not so much that Freo made better use of their opportunities as that Hawthorn were not able to take their chances to take the wind out of Freo's sails. Fremantle were less than a goal up for what seemed like an age. During that time, Sean Rehn had two shots at goal for a rushed behind and an out on the full and a couple of other half chances came up in the course of general play that Hawthorn were also not able to nail. Given the Dockers fragile temparament as a team, a goal from any one of those chances and that would have been it. Freo would have been labelled "gallant losers" once more, and there'd be nothing left to write.
In the end though, Fremantle were able to get the last two goals of the game, and the cries of "blow the siren" became "play for percentage". Meanwhile the Hawthorn faithful started to file their way out of the ground. I think there is nothing more satisfying than seeing Hawthorn fans going home unhappy, but that goes back to the last game of 1998. Another couple of wins against them and I'll probably be completely over it.
I've probably written more than enough already, but I have just one more amusing incident from the game. As the game progressed we Freo fans had been quite excited by Pav's leading and marking. One sarcastic Hawk fan picked up on that, and in the last quarter when Pav dropped amark he should have taken, he was quick with the comment, "Ooohh Pav, he's so tough!". Sadly, while he was thinking up that pearl, Pav had beaten his opponent to the ball, grabbed it, walked straight through the tackle that was laid on him and was in the process of handballing it off to Fewster, who slotted it through for an easy goal.
After the game there was some talk on the radio about the possibility of Freo actually being able to avoid the wooden spoon, especially if they can beat West Coast next week. My tip: Fremantle will lose that game by about 12 goals. I hope I'm wrong though.
Final Score : Hawthorn 13.12-90 lost to Fremantle 16.10-106.
© 2001 timnfromoz firstname.lastname@example.org
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