Kick it to Pav



The Fremantle Football Club has had its cult players over the years: Clive,  Jeffrey, and Kepler. But we’ve really only ever had one true champion. Matthew Pavlich (aka PAV aka THE PAV aka BIG PAV) will play his 300th AFL game for the Fremantle Football Club this weekend, and it’s a big deal[1]

For most fans and members. Pav’s journey has been intimately entwined with ours. Freo’s long back-breaking trek towards being a bloody good football club has always been anchored by the skill, competitiveness, and professionalism of Pavlich[2]. Through all the downs and ups of supporting Freo, there’s been a common refrain from the purple army (formerly the tricolour army): “We’ll always have Pavlich”. Pav was there in the long, dark winter of 2001, the Demolition Derby, Sirengate[3], the thrilling 2006 premiership tilt, the gut-wrenching rollercoaster that was 2007-2011, and finally, the Era of Promise under Ross Lyon. His staunch commitment to the club though all of this has always pulled at the heart-strings of the die-hard Freo supporter: it allowed us to say always and know it was the truth. It’s this loyalty from the Big Pav that elevated him well above cult-status in the hearts and minds of the Freo fan. Pav is a freaking god-like entity.

For so long, Pav was the ultimate “go-to guy”. There’s good reason why he’s been named in multiple AA positions – for so long he was used where we needed him, wherever that was on the field. He was named twice on the AA interchange bench which probably reflected his flexibility as much as anything[4]. For a long stretch there under Harvey, you could pick when we would switch Pav to the middle. It would follow three consecutive opposition goals, when we got jumped early, or when the margin started to become uncomfortable. It was like clockwork. Time after time, Pav would wrestle back the momentum, muscle the ball to our advantage, get a booming kick going in our direction, nail a long bomb.

It’s fitting that he plays his milestone game at home against Geelong this week. The epic battles between Fremantle and Geelong stretch back to the Len Hall game at Subiaco Oval in 2008 when the Dockers lost by a point. Pavlich copped a fair bit of stick for not landing the sealer in that game. That he was kicking from 45 out, near the boundary line, only shows the high standards demanded from him. Due to the fixturing quirks common to both teams in the west, Pav and Freo faced the great Geelong side at home more often than not between 2006 and 2012[5], so it was a massive day when we finally took one in 2010, after some great contests in 2007 and 2009. Freo’s four-point victory in round 1 of 2012 was also an exceptional contest. There’s no doubt that the confidence gained over that period was critical to the 2012 elimination final win at the G, and the qualifying final win at Kardinya last year.

There is a clear sense that for Pavlich – as much as Fremantle – the Cats have long been the benchmark. Pav said as much in the lead up this week, describing the modern juggernaut that just won’t die as “the best of all time”. And for a club like Freo, still comparatively youthful at the age of 20, a genuine rivalry with one of the great clubs of the competition is meaningful. After an indifferent start to the year, a win against our great rival is undoubtedly the shot in the arm our season needs. While the game could go either way, all Freo members and supporters already know is that we will get everything from our captain on the field Saturday night. We will always have Pav.


Smithy aka Scott Smith

[email protected]

May 2014


[1] Good chance he’ll join the 600 AFL goals club as well, a group even rarer than the 300 games club. Pav currently has 598.

[2] Just this week one journo estimated that Pav had travelled more than any other player in the history of the game. He also calculated that Pav had spent the equivalent of 1,000 days in flight, all in the service of the Fremantle Dockers.

[3] Pav featured in one the best banners seen at Subi Oval. In a game against Richmond soon after the controversial 2006 game, a banner read: “They tried to rob us, down at Aurora, but we took Pav, when you took Fiora”.  As some may not need reminding, the Tiges took Aaron Fiora at pick three in the 1999 draft, Freo took Pav at four.

[4] Like a lot of brilliant young upcoming players, one of Pav’s AA gurnseys was probably gifted but don’t get me started on his exclusion from the AA team in 2010 (61 goals, averaged 19 disposals) and 2012 (64 goals, 17 disposals per game).

[5] The exception was the explosive day down at Kardinia when the Cats pounded Freo all over the park. The day will be remembered for Dean Solomon’s brutal elbow on Ling, but Freo fans also recall the way Geelong bullied our young players early on, giving away more than ten free kicks in the first quarter alone.


  1. I’m a big fan of Litza’s work but I should correct my second footnote – that should read 1,000 hours, not days.

  2. Love it Scotty.

  3. Nice footnoting…

    Am also a big fan of Pavlich, so a good read all round.

  4. Nice debut Smithy. I was discussing just this morning whether or not Pav is great, or just very good. We decided that we need to define great first, then see who fits into it.

    Pav is probably a fair chance.

  5. sean gorman says


  6. Well said Smithy. Pav has always been whatever the team needed him to be. High marking star; midfield grunt; or hard working strong man.
    Pav is the greatest West Torrens footballer since Lindsay Head and Bob Hank.

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    PB, you are forgetting Milan Faletic

  8. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Pavlich having played for a non Victorian club and for a very average side when face it he was the side for a large chunk of his career has not received the kudos overall he deserves and every other club is still kicking themselves that he fell thru a draft as a 17 year old he could have been picked . Imagine what , Eddie would be like if he was a pie ! Brilliant and most clever banner ever thanks , Smithy

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