AFL Round 9 – Fremantle v Melbourne: Consigned to history

By Les Everett

Fremantle and Melbourne have history. I know because I’m writing a history of the Dockers and Melbourne keeps bobbing up. 1997 round 22 when Fremantle needed to beat the bottom team to secure a place in the finals for the first time. Jeff Farmer kicked six goals and the Dees won by 40 points. 1999 round 10 a glorious Friday night when I found myself at the MCG and the Dockers were given no hope. Tony Modra kicked 10, Daniel Bandy played like an All Australian and the Dockers won by 54 points. 2002 round five was Jeff Farmer’s first game against his old team and, of course, he kicked a goal after the siren to win the game for Fremantle. 2006 semi final and the first win in a final by the Dockers. 2008 round seven and Fremantle lead by 50 points at half time at the MCG, kick the first goal after the break and lose by six points. 2009 round 20 and Melbourne take a break from their alleged tanking and thrash the Dockers by 63 points.

I watched this game away from my normal seat after attending a corporate lunch. Sitting next to me was Ron Alexander – East Perth premiership player 1972; Fitzroy captain 1979-1980; VFL Players Association president 1979; East Fremantle premiership coach 1985; West Coast Eagles inaugural coach 1987 and current Director General of the WA Department of Sport and Recreation. Someone should write a book about him. Anyway I noticed that he watches the game like a coach… glancing behind the play… seeing how players are setting up. I asked if he could understand what Ross Lyon was up to. “It’s not new,” Alexander said, “It’s about denying space.”  And then he paused and said, “And I bet he’s got a few other tricks that I’ve got no idea about.” Alexander explained that coaches can have all sorts of good ideas but the real trick was to have players willing and able to do what the coach wants them to do.

And so to 2013 round nine. This one won’t make too many history books though Fremantle did set a record – biggest winning margin over Melbourne.

The Demons opened the scoring after Michael Barlow kicked to Jack Watts who kicked a goal. Fremantle kicked the next 10 goals. Here are some things that happened and in some cases didn’t happen.

• Jeremy Howe did not take a mark-of-the-year contender but he did play very well. I started wondering what he would look like in purple and then told myself to stop it and show some respect.

• The Dockers wore the brilliant new Indigenous Round guernsey designed by Roger Hayden and Richard Walley. Earlier in the week I was the second person to buy one in the Dockers Shop at Fremantle Oval. Sean Gorman was the first.

• Michael Johnson had a shot for goal in the last quarter from virtually the same spot as his attempt that would have won the game but didn’t make the distance a week earlier. He kicked into the man on the mark. Was that deliberate?

• Nathan Fyfe had a funny afternoon. His ball handling was typically brilliant but he kept running into people just when he looked like bursting clear.

• Hayden Ballantyne is lovely. Lyon’s buzz word is effort and Ballantyne’s continued efforts are incredible.

• Nathan Jones is my favourite Dee. Poor bugger was tagged by Ryan Crowley in this game but kept battling away.

• In the past Fremantle have had players in the back line that oppositions were happy to see with ball in hand. Now when Johnson, Paul Duffield, Lee Spurr, Garrick Ibbotson or Luke McPharlin have the ball it spells danger. Ibboston illustrated the point with a beautiful set shot for goal from 55 metres in the last quarter.

• Who would have thought Fremantle could still be strong in the ruck without Aaron Sandilands, Jon Griffin and Kepler Bradley? Zac Clarke and Jack Hannath are big, athletic and competitive.

• After the game I received a text message from Melbourne fan David Bridie: “Melb fans are like cockroaches. Able to withstand a nuclear holocaust.” On talkback radio on the ABC after the game callers were full of solutions – merge with someone, kick them out, have a relegation system, sack the coach, sack the players, sack the recruiters. They don’t understand the mighty Dees.


Fremantle       7.5 13.7 15.11 19.16 (130)
Melbourne    1.1 2.2 5.3 6.4 (40)

Fremantle: Ballantyne, Mzungu 3, D Pearce, Crozier, Mayne 2, Ibbotson, Fyfe, Crowley, Mundy, Barlow, Silvagni, Hannath 1

Melbourne: Trengove, Howe 2, Watts, M Jones 1


Fremantle: Mundy, Clarke, Johnson, Duffield, Ibbotson, Fyfe, Ballantyne, Barlow, Spurr

Melbourne: Howe, Trengove, Davey, M Jones, N Jones

Umpires: Farmer, Hay, Fisher

Official crowd: 32,950

Our Votes: 3 Mundy (F) 2 Clarke (F) 1 Johnson (F)


About Les Everett

A Footy Almanac veteran, Les Everett is the author of Gravel Rash: 100 Years of Goldfields Football and Fremantle Dockers: An Illustrated History. He is the WAFL correspondent and uses the money he makes from that role to pay for his expensive websites and and fund the extravagant Vin Maskell at


  1. Thanks Les, plenty of food for thought here. I would give my right arm to sit in the coach’s box for the night. I love that Ron said there’s nothing new, give them no space, but he must have the players on side. Ross has, Neeld doesn’t. And the waiver: plenty more tricks up his sleeve I can’t see.
    Great to be engaged all the way through an article on a very forgettable game.

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