By Dianne Waddingham
This footy “weekend” was like no other, starting on a soggy Wednesday night flying to Perth and finishing with “fisty cuffs” between two taxi drivers in the wee hours of Monday morning back at Melbourne airport. What happened in between was going to take some beating (except a premiership of course)!
I really, really wanted to go to Perth with my buddies Halyz and Di. When I challenged Brendan (my partner) with yes he can have a beer with breakfast if I can go to Perth, I was surprised at the outcome. The beer cost him $299 and I was off to Perth for the Greater Western Sydney game.
A late bus arrival in the driving rain could not dampen my mood as I raced to catch my plane. The pilot requested we buckle up for a bumpy ride into Perth and he was not joking!! Landing safely (thank god) was a bonus. Our meeting on Thursday morning with the Fremantle Football Club was quite successful, even if traffic on the Mitchell freeway, which incidentally resembled Melbourne’s city link “car park”, ensured a late arrival.
With formalities out of the way, the fun part of our holiday began, despite a record dump of precipitation, apparently breaking Perth’s twelve year August record. John Vidovitch (who shares his time between WA and VIC cheer squads and resembles the Duracell bunny) had organised lunch at a funky Freo eatery (Cafe X-Wray), nestled in behind the famous cappuccino strip. Little did we know we were sharing lunch with the Mayor of Fremantle!!! John wanted to show his appreciation at what the VIC Crew do for the footy club and so did Mayor Brad Pettitt and Councillor Andrew Sullivan. A scrumptious lunch was interrupted by a surprise visitor – the Docker’s tagging supremo Ryan Crowley who had given up time on his day off. The day finished with a photo for the Fremantle gazette. It was an amazing afternoon leaving us feeling like royalty!
Friday (even before the sun was up) saw us back in Freo, sharing a delicious barbeque breakfast with John at the Melville Water Polo Club swimming pool (Bicton), the first training pool of the Fremantle Football Club (back in its infancy). Champagne never tasted so good with a stunning Swan River backdrop. The afternoon was spent catching up with friends and finished with a sensational dinner at the Mallard Duck Cafe (Swan Valley). There was going to be some excess baggage around my waistline by the end of this holiday!
With one more day before the footy, we hightailed off to the Siren’s High Tea (Perth Hyatt). What an incredible afternoon of eating supremacy!!! The special guest was Alex Silvagni (hope he was watching his calorie intake) so along with entertainment and sharing the love for a team that had made purple super cool, it was an exceptional day. Late cocktails and drinks were followed by a tasty feed of Chinese. I needed to find a gym, really quickly!
There was something different about going to the footy in Perth. We were “baggage free” with no game-day responsibilities. Halyz, Di and I did not have to be at the ground a gazillion hours before bounce down, making sure banner was polled and ready for action. Nor did we have to unload the multitude of bags holding floggers, banner jackets, pom poms and other gear to “purplefy’ the cheer squad area. We could relax….. well as much as I could relax at a Docker’s game. Yes, we were playing GWS who were winless this season until last week, but I did not want to be too confident. Sportsbet had us at +78.5 points but I tried to remain calm. The only issue (could you believe) we had was the sun. It was the middle of winter and we needed caps and t-shirts!!
I felt privileged to help out with banner (thanks Maria) so was rather chuffed walking onto Paterson Stadium. It was Chris Mayne’s 100th game so the roar when he ran through his banner was very loud. Over 31,000 screaming fans made more noise than the few hundred we were used to at grounds outside WA. I gazed up at the sea of purple and it looked sssoooo good. I felt for GWS as their banner began to rip, but I could see myself in that group, just starting out, still unsure what to do but still very enthusiastic.
Our captain (Supa Pav) was back raring to go but a real bummer was Hilly being a late withdrawal. The footy record was my bible, having no idea who the Giants were, except their young but extremely talented centre half forward Jeremy Cameron. Freo’s Suban kicked the first goal not long after the first bounce. Goals to Son-Son (Walters), Mzungu, Ballantyne, Mayne and our little gnome Lachie (Neale) ensured a great start. It was a blistering first quarter, even for some wayward kicking. A 40 point lead at quarter time had me breathing a little easier.
I don’t want to talk about the 2nd quarter. Fremantle thought it was time to play handball which gave GWS a sniff and boy, they needed no encouragement. Cameron (a superstar in the making) kicked 3 goals in the blink of an eye and all of a sudden we looked ordinary. Our galloping hat stand (Sandilands) looked slow and could not take a mark and I don’t think we laid one tackle that stuck. Give credit where it was due. GWS were awesome. Ward out of the centre, with able assistance from youngsters Bugg, Greene and Treloar, were putting on a display. Thank god for Sheridan’s goal on the half time siren otherwise the score line would have been embarrassing. I’m sure Ross the Boss (Lyon) had blown a gasket!! We went into the break only 24 points up. The natives were restless and I had no finger nails left!
The real Fremantle came out to play in the second half and completely dominated the less experienced GWS team with a sixteen to one goal blitz. My game highlight was early in the 3rd quarter when Ballantyne received a foot pass from Daniel (Pearce) on the wing. He challenged his opponent (Coniglio) with some speed and fancy footwork, zigging and zagging through half forward, followed by a couple of bounces and then pumped those little legs forward for the goal of the year! The stadium erupted with the F-R-E-O chant, loud and proud. There were 15 goal scorers in our 113 point win, which was also the greatest winning margin in Docker’s history. What a way to celebrate Mayne’s milestone. All Haylz, Di and I could do was savour the moment with a celebratory meal, washed down with a crisp sav blanc.
What a game, what a result, what a weekend. Could I start mentioning the “f” word? I take a deep breath. Even those feuding cabbies could not spoil it for me and stuff the election! I had finals to prepare for and I was ready in all my purpleness!
FREMANTLE 6.7 8.9 15.12 24.13 (157)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 0.3 5.3 5.5 6.8 (44)
Fremantle: Neale 3, Ballantyne 2, Walters 2, Suban 2, Mzungu 2, Fyfe 2, Mayne 2, Pavlich 2, Duffield, Sheridan, de Boer, Barlow, Clarke, Sutcliffe, Crowley
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron 4, Hampton, Smith
Fremantle: Suban, Neale, Mayne, Barlow, Johnson, Mzungu
Greater Western Sydney: Ward, Cameron, Whiley, Greene, Treloar
Fremantle: Hill (hamstring tightness) replaced in selected side by Silvagni
Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Fremantle: Cameron Sutcliffe replaced Hayden Ballantyne in the third quarter
Greater Western Sydney: Nathan Wilson replaced Taylor Adams at three-quarter time
Umpires: Burgess, Findlay, Fisher
Official crowd: 31,390 at Patersons Stadium
Votes:- 3 Mayne