Is Fremantle’s greatest weakness Channel 7?

When the Fremantle Dockers rocketed off out of the blocks quicker than every other team this AFL season, many Australians turned their heads and shook their heads with disbelief, as the names of Fyfe and Pavlich rang through the ears of many Victorians. They were only spoken of in hushed tones until about round four, where they upstaged the well-groomed Swans in a tight Saturday night contest. Strangely enough, that game, as well as Fremantle’s first nine matches in the home and away season, wasn’t telecasted on free to air television, as many Victorians only heard of the heroics that Fyfe and company produced.

Yet, in Fremantle’s first televised match on Channel 7 this year, they stumbled against a switched on Richmond outfit on Friday night footy. The blistering start of the Tigers coincided with the shabby performance from the Dockers, who had otherwise dominated first quarters this season. The likes of the two Pearce’s, Pavlich, Barlow and many others seemed to be shell shocked by the accurate Tigers, as only Fyfe and Sandilands carried on in their usual manner. But the burning question is; was it shell shock or stage fright?

This isn’t a solitary occurrence either; remember the Semi Final against Port Adelaide last year? Poor kicking and timid football resulted in a brave and hard running Power side snatching a Preliminary Final spot over the more fancied Dockers. It appears to be a common occurrence since the 2013 Grand Final against the Hawks, as their early jitters in front of goal ultimately decided the fifteen point final margin. Remember the home and away game last year against Geelong, where Mundy missed a difficult shot after the siren? Do you recall several misses at goal by the likes of Pavlich (who is a brilliant set shot at goal) and other experienced players that prevented them from snatching the lead?

For all of this season, Victorians and other Australians have only heard about the improved Dockers, who have found avenues to goal other than Pavlich and can constantly perform in all areas. Yet, when the brightest spotlight possible in millions of people nationwide is being trained on them, they slip and fumble like the ball is a bar of soap. It is surely must be frustrating for the Fremantle supporters, who see unrecognised hard workers in Barlow, Mundy and Pearce perform, only for them to collapse in a heap when the whole football nation is watching.

All in all, Fremantle are most certainly a Premiership contender. They have a superb defence (when they can get them all on the park), one of the best, if not the best, midfield in the league and a potent forward line when Walters, Ballantyne, Mayne and Taberner can support Pavlich. The problem will be when they make finals, as the eye of the nation is focused on them in sheer velocity. To win a flag they must perform in front of 100,000 citizens within the general vicinity of them, as well as a simple several million eyes watching them through numerous screens. They are definitely good enough to win a flag, but they face one key opponent. They don’t have the skill and class of Hawthorn, the sheer brilliance of Sydney or even the hard running of Richmond, but they sure put on a lot of pressure. Until Fremantle can overcome their stage fright on national free to air television, they won’t capture the highly vaunted first Premiership that they desire so desperately.


  1. daniel flesch says

    Had me really worried for a minute there ,Sean. Was disappointed Round 15 Freo.- Hawthorn match won’t be on FTA telly in regional NSW where i live , but now relieved to see it will be on Ch. 7 in Melb. and Perth . That should help.

  2. Been a while between drinks for the cats on channel 7 on grand final day I still think had it been channel 10 in 08 maybe things would have panned out…07,09,11 all on channel 10…

  3. Dennis Gedling says

    Technically every single Freo game is on Channel 7 in Perth even if a Fox game. Where does the television feng shui kick in?

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