History hates Fremantle

Okay.  So there’s a problem.  With the exception of Essendon, I am unashamedly biased towards Victorian teams.  I can’t help it and remain unapologetic.

So I want Fremantle to lose the grand final.

I understand all the purple romance blowing across the Nullarbor.  I understand that for sentimental reasons, neutral fans might jump onto Fremantle’s back, beside the monkey.

Based on their history, Fremantle qualifying for a grand final seems a fluke, but given they have taken 19 years to get to this point of their existence, it’s a cute story.

But this is footy, not fantasy, and history hates Fremantle.  If you don’t believe me, research their wretched history.

My bias was born on the terraces of Arden Street and at JP Falkner Reserve in Oak Park.  I quickly loved footy, and though I embraced the national competition I never trusted it.

In 1992, when West Coast overran Geelong in the grand final, my bias was fortified.  The Eagles were just six years old.  Geelong hadn’t won a flag for 30 years.  It seemed so unfair.

When the Eagles repeated the insult two years later, the cool hours of the morning were wasted abusing the AFL for their expansion and Geelong for their lack of fight.

Although there were plenty of adjectives to describe Geelong’s performance, I stopped at bad.

I saved the worst for the AFL, words like woeful, appalling, disgraceful, inept, pathetic, horrifying, contemptible, abominable, lamentable, pitiful, intolerable and fucking reprehensible.

Victorian origins are never discarded easily and it was clear to me that Victorian clubs were being screwed by the AFL, all in the name of expansion.

Nineteen years later, the situation remains the same, despite the annual handouts provided by the AFL to clubs like North Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne.

When Adelaide defeated North Melbourne in the 1998 grand final, things got personal.  The Crows, it must be remembered, were just eight years old.  They finished fifth and lost their first final, but a quirk in system meant they weren’t eliminated.

Instead, they regrouped and won back to back grand finals.  The AFL was delighted.  The national competition was alive and well.

When the AFL was forced to change the rules regarding the finals, it happened much too late for a livid Kangaroos supporter who couldn’t get Adelaide’s pathetic, presumptuous theme song out of his head.

If the Crows never win another premiership, it’ll be soon enough.

North Melbourne and Essendon briefly restored the balance of power, but the premiership cup was going to Brisbane, three times, because the AFL wanted it that way.

The Lions exploited $600,000 in salary cap concessions (to avoid players going home) and two extra players on their list to win three consecutive grand finals.

Even Richmond would’ve won a premiership with that kind of generosity.

The AFL handouts ended though, thanks to Eddie McGuire and his legal threat.  The Lions, of course, bitched about missing out on four consecutive premierships, as if winning three wasn’t enough.

Their success was said to be good for footy in Queensland and there is no doubt it was, on a shallow level.  Ten years later, Brisbane drew 13,000 to a home and away game against GWS.  They don’t have a coach.  Five top-30 draft picks want to go home.

Please, have no sympathy for Brisbane.  I don’t, because the AFL will provide assistance, as they do for clubs they want to be successful, like the Gold Coast, GWS and Sydney.

We shouldn’t forget Sydney and their cost of living allowance which their players need so desperately because milk is more expensive around the Harbour.  That cost of living allowance (nine percent extra) ensured the Swans have played in more finals than any club since 1996.

It went a long way to securing two premierships, in 2005 and 2012, and don’t forget about Kirk Tippett who desperately wanted to get home to Queensland but tripped over a bag full of money along the way.

At the weekend, Sydney’s premiership defence was strangled by Fremantle.  Don’t feel any pity for Sydney.  They were never going to beat the Dockers.  Extra money only goes so far when injury is concerned.

And don’t feel any pity for Geelong either.  They won three premierships in six years the conventional way, which is largely without AFL handouts.

They played a preliminary final against Hawthorn that was worthy of a grand final.  The Cats should’ve won, but blew a 20-point lead at three quarter time and those aging legs could only conjure two shots at goal in the final quarter.

One of those scoring shots is destined to be replayed for years.  Had Travis Varcoe kicked straight with 34 seconds left, the match would’ve gone into extra time, but Geelong still would’ve lost.  Finishing the home and away season in second place guarantees nothing, except a home final, which they botched.

I hope Hawthorn doesn’t botch the grand final, but I won’t be surprised if they do.

Fremantle could be premiers on Saturday.  People hoping the Dockers win are suggesting it will be good for footy, but that is rubbish.  It will be good for Fremantle and the AFL.

Ask any Hawthorn fan if another grand final loss will be good for football.

Bias, if it is firmly entrenched in the psyche, is not transferrable.  Having lived in Queensland now for more than two decades, my intense dislike of the Brisbane Lions often surprises people.

‘Why don’t you fuck off back to Victoria, and take your fucking Victorian bias with you,’ a mate once said.

My Victorian bias is a feature of my personality.  I was born in Victoria.  I don’t have any other options.

Besides, I’ve met too many ex-Victorians who jumped on the Brisbane Lions bandwagon during their halcyon days.  I got sick of hearing people say, I used to follow (insert team) but now I live in Queensland I follow Brisbane.

I don’t trust people who dump their team, just because they move.  They obviously don’t love footy.

I want Hawthorn to win the grand final.  It is all about the bias.  On Saturday I hope history hates Fremantle for another year.



About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    You could drive a truck thru the holes in this article Victorian Clubs don’t have to travel every 2 week Geez Coll need a GPS to find there way out of Melb
    The Father Son Rule has had more influence re Geelong than any Salary Cap bonus
    Sydney have been So successful because they have Traded so well and got gems from the Rookie List I will grant you that it is crap that they were able to get Tippett
    If the Competition was truly National and not a expanded VFL comp to keep clubs alive who would have gone broke and without the TV deal would have folded The Father Son rule would have been disbanded Ablett pick 40 odd ! At least it is fairer now with the bidding part No if the comp was truly Fair Dinkum there would be Games scheduled at
    Neutral Venues to even up the Travelling Part Be Biased Fine but put in Richmond would have won a Premiership ! Please no need to be ridiculous ! What we all should be going berserk about is the Stupidity of not having a National Res Comp because if you keep ruining every Comp underneath eventually you ruin the AFL
    The fact is the VFL needed the interstate sides to survive without them who noes where Footy would be ?

  2. A Roo boy who wants Hawthorn to win!!?? Well I’ll be. I will personally be getting JK over to your house Aluminium Mikhail to teach you some manners.

  3. Simon Willcox says

    Thanks ironmike I was struggling to embrace the Purple Haze
    especially with the likes of Crowley and Ballantyne pinching and niggling their
    way into the heads of everyone they stood this year (Boomer is probably
    still getting treatment for the ‘rash’)
    But now I can barrack for the Big Pav’s boys knowing that it will be another dagger in the heart of Victorian Centralism
    Hear Hear Malcolm
    A national reserves comp is overdue
    I fear for the SANFL next year

  4. History may hate Fremantle, but it’s well and truly eluded you, Mike.
    Anyone who has even an inkling of the nasty story of the AFL cash grab that was Freo’s foundation and subsequent story will know that none of the advantages you pillory other interstate clubs for were available to the Dockers.
    Admittedly, many of its tribulations were visited on it by its own state’s Eagles-besotted football administration, a number of the key members of which should hang their heads in shame, rather than soak up whatever glory may be coming in their general direction, this week.
    There were no cash injections for Freo. No rafts of draft concessions. Just more than a decade of being called clowns when the joke was always on them.
    Ah, well, those were the days. I hope we never see their like again.
    For the time being, Mike, you’re welcome to your insular little fantasy, and, if you get your wish, the warm glow of Hawks flag in the cockles of your Kangaroo heart.

  5. Peter Fuller says

    I’m the reverse of you, born and spent almost all my life in Victoria, but I had decades to nurture my loathing of certain home-State clubs. Essendon, the Horrible Orks, and Richmond head my list of those I don’t want to succeed. I don’t have anything like that level of hostility towards the non-Victorian teams. I quite enjoy the success of the two Adelaide clubs, and the arriviste Freo. Cripes, I liked Gerard Neesham’s death or glory (mostly the former) approach. I’m neutral about Sydney and Brisbane, mildly hostile to West Coast.
    I can understand that life in Brisbane would intensify your sense of Victorianness; I know of beleaguered non-Cats who live in Geelong, and find the pressure to support the home team barely endurable.
    So on Saturday, I’ll be at the G, willing on the purple haze.

  6. Neil Belford says

    I haven’t lived in WA since Fremantle came into the competition. I moved to Victoria from Fremantle the year before their inception and prior to that my interest in the VFL was not exactly enhanced by the introduction of the WCE to that competition.

    For me the AFL was born with the introduction of Fremantle, the VFL died as a tier one comp as did the WAFL. I still splutter when people crap on about VFL/AFL records. There were three tier one comps, you either include them all or none. I could go on.

    However – more power to you for clinging to your Victorianess, I cling to my Western Australianess. Actually I would move home if only we would get on with seceding (A major benefit of that would be making the game international). But none of that could make me hope for one moment that WCE would win one game ever. I am always barracking for whoever they are playing.

    So – you are a fully confused and weird. Notwithstanding that I loved your article, I cant understand how guys like you actually like your old school rivals more than the new school with whom you can surely only have media driven, contrived enmity, or enmity driven by real competition events. Rightly you should hate Adelaide for stealing a flag off you.

    I haven’t counted which of Fremantle and Hawthorn has got the most Victorians and which has the most Western Australians, but if someone was to do that it might be interesting – particularly given that Hawthorn was always just East Fremantles proxy team in the VFL anyway.

    And bad luck about Saturday, Freo will win because they have better players, are fitter, better coached, and are just running into form for the first time this year – 30 points.

  7. Neil Anderson says

    If we start with your premise regarding bias, if it is firmly entrenched in the psyche is not transferable.
    Most knackers would be nodding their heads sagely as they read that statement. Not sure if it was Freud or Doctor Phil who came up with that one, but it’s a doozy.
    The only difference between punters would be in what order they would list their biases. So here’s mine and why.
    1. Bulldogs every time who ever they play. Just grateful they’re are still around with the system stacked against them.
    2. Richmond because of the empathy factor as they head into a decent premiership drought. Also at least originally, a working-class club.
    3. St Kilda because they are a member of the one-premiership club.
    4. All other Victorian clubs except, Carlton, Essendon, Collingwood, Hawthorn and Melbourne. These clubs were wealthy and cap-free for a long time and have won enough premierships…surely.
    5. Here’s where we differ. Fremantle. Well until they win their first premiership and then they can be lumped in with all the interstate-teams at the bottom of my bias-o-meter.

  8. As a Cats supporter, who to support in this GF is a particularly difficult question.

    I imagine I will not truly know until the game starts but right now, whilst in a rational state, I’m looking for a Freo win. I would not be if it were any other team than Hawthorn playing them.

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