Round 1 – Fremantle v Port Adelaide: Big wheels start rollin’



Fremantle versus Port Adelaide
4.40pm, Saturday, 4 April
Subiaco Oval

Big wheels start rollin

Les Everett

Start of the season. Bouncedown 4.40pm. We left home just before noon to catch the bus organised by the South West Dockers Supporters Club for the 220km trip from Busselton to Subiaco. There were stops along the way and people got on the bus wearing nifty shades of purple. The supporters club has its HQ in Bunbury and that’s where president Pia, secretary Amber and a very organised crew got on – the refreshment bearers and raffle organisers. They’ve been doing it for years. As new temporary residents of the South West this was our first ride. We rattled past the Hands Oval; home of the South Bunbury Football Club where Syd Jackson turned heads and Leon Baker had one of his many stops on that incredible footy trip around Australia.

A couple of stops in Australind and we were soon on the Forrest Highway.

Closer to the city, where the highway becomes the Kwinana Freeway you get a feeling for what a big thing an AFL match day is. I’d say seven out of ten cars passing us were full of Dockers fans. The Perth train runs down the middle of the Freeway and we could see that the passengers waiting at stations were decked out in purple. The game is the main event.

We took the Hay Street West exit and the driver cranked up the music – the mighty team song – “… oh we’re the rollers and the rockers, we’re the mighty Freo Dockers. We’re gonna roll ‘em and we’ll rock ‘em we’re gonna send ‘em to the bottom…” – brilliant. Dave Warner’s Freo is the Heart and Soul of Footy was next and then another song about the Dockers. We were in the mood.

The countdown to the bouncedown included daytime fireworks – there were some silvery bits but it was primarily a sonic experience!

Port were quickly into it looking well organised. They’re good to watch especially the way they spread out and give the player with the ball something to kick to – Port were, as a consequence, taking lots of marks. By contrast it was difficult for Fremantle players to take marks, as their kicking was dreadful. As the first quarter wore on the Dockers got a handle on things and the game was even.

Nathan Fyfe started the game strongly but was the victim of two cruel rulings by umpires. First Nick Foot guessed Fyfe had “incorrectly disposed of” the ball when tackled on the wing – Fyfe was facing me and I saw his handball. The player’s back was to Foot who rather than thinking, ‘How did he do that?’ must have decided ‘He couldn’t have done that.’

Soon afterwards Fyfe took a towering mark near the goal square and brought the ball all the way to the ground. That wasn’t good enough for Dean Margetts.

The Dockers took the lead early in the second quarter after Matthew Pavlich drove through a set shot from 55 – it was majestic. Soon afterwards Fyfe decided to show he could do things without help from officialdom. Some hard work from Chris Mayne got the ball to Fyfe near the point post The young champ handballed into space, picked up the ball and ran inboard. His snap shot for goal was well smothered but Fyfe kept his eye on the ball, regathered and slammed it through. It was unbelievable but luckily this time neither Foot nor Margetts could find reason to disallow it.

The quarter ebbed and flowed and Fremantle were nine points in front when Hayden Ballantyne slid into view. First Son-Son Walters lined up the goals from a spot on the boundary about a kilometre out, it was skidding through when Ballas arrived sliding on his bum and fumbled it over the line for a behind. Port whisked the ball away from the kick-in and Chad Wingard found Brad Ebert in the goal square. On Fremantle’s next move forward Ballatyne had the ball and was executing his familiar duck-back-around manoeuvre when his feet went from under him. Port had players standing in all the right spots and Jay Schulz, who was having all sorts of trouble with old Luke McPharlin, received the pass and kicked accurately. The run of play should have given the home team a handy lead but now the visitors were in front.

A Justin Westhoff miss and a neat Danyle Pearce set-shot (not always his thing) meant Fremantle took the early lead in the second half. The pattern of high-intensity and grunt from Fremantle and precision and run from Port continued but there was one constant in this game. He was hard to miss. Aaron Sandilands, in the absence of the Power’s main ruckman Matthew Lobbe, was causing lots of trouble and the Dockers were in control at most bouncedowns, throw-ups and throw-ins.

The last quarter didn’t belong to just one player but David Mundy could’ve taken it home without too many complaints. He made it his business to keep the ball going in his team’s direction. Not much of what he did was pretty but it was vital as the Dockers edged ahead. Pavlich kicked two last quarter goals to cap a vintage performance.

Fremantle led by just seven points when Jasper Pittard began a dangerous looking run from defence. He hadn’t accounted for Zac Clarke’s speed and long arms. Pittard took a bounce and Clarke grabbed onto his trailing hand. Ballantyne picked up the loose ball and slammed through the sealer.

There was still time for Travis Boak to kick a goal-of-the-round contender but not enough for his team to claim victory.

Smokey fireworks went off above the scoreboard and we headed for the bus. You might expect a supporters’ bus trip to be a rowdy affair after a big win but the mood was satisfied and subdued. Many of these people made this trip in lean years when wins were rare but they kept the faith – they’re tough supporters, real supporters. Pia the president won the winning margin competition – well deserved.

We rattled on through the darkness, thought about games to come, dropped off fans in Australind, Bunbury and various parts of Busselton until we were the only ones left. It was 11.30pm.

Long day. Good night. It was a very good night.




Fremantle            2.1 5.3 7.5 11.9 (75)

Port Adelaide 2.5 5.5 7.8 10.8 (68)

Fremantle:  Pavlich 4; Ballantyne, D Pearce 2; Clarke, Fyfe, Neale.

Port Adelaide: Wines, Wingard 2; Boak, Butcher, Ebert, Neade, Schulz, White .


Fremantle: Pavlich, Fyfe, Sandilands, Mundy, McPharlin, D Pearce, Duffield.

Port Adelaide: Ebert, Polec, Wines, Boak, Grey, Wingard.

Umpires: Foot, Margetts, Meredith

Official crowd: 34, 099

Our Votes: 3 Pavlich (F) 2 Fyfe (F) 1 Ebert (PA)


Les Everett
writer, editor, educator
Author of Fremantle Dockers: An illustrated history

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. Geez don’t read if you aren’t a diehard Freo supporter. Boy oh boy.
    And did he really call the Dockers theme song mighty? It is an attack on any person’s ear drums they shouldn’t have to go through.
    Back to Dockerland!

  2. Rick Kane says

    I think Les might have a thing for Fyfe. Well, if you’re going to have a thing for a player then Fyfe’s a pretty good call. Cheers

  3. Dianne Waddingham says

    I reckon every Docker supporter and sympathiser believes Fyfey goes ok, even better than ok!! I agree with you Les about the song and the game but then you are preaching to the converted!!

  4. Keiran Croker says

    I reckon every supporter of any team thinks Fyffe goes ok. He is a gun! Close to best player in the comp.

  5. Pia Retzlaff says

    Yes, it was a good day Les and a pleasure to meet you. The Southwest Dockers Supporters Club looks forward to seeing you on the bus again,
    As you would have seen we are all very passionate.
    Great article. It said it as it was.

  6. sean gorman says

    Good work Les, any games of ‘I spy’ or any cans shot gunned?

    Foot is a truly awful umpire. Where do they get these tits from.

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