Round 8 – Hawthorn v Fremantle: Cold comfort in Tasmania

Having recently moved to Tasmania I was looking forward to seeing the Dockers for the second time this season and ticking off another AFL venue in Launceston.

What to make of the Dockers this season? The seasons middling to high expectations were squashed about round 4 and with key players down in Fyfe, Sandilands, Johnson and Bennell, they were never really in the chase against the Hawks.

This match was the 10 year anniversary of Freo’s only win in Tasmania. It would have been nice of the AFL to acknowledge this with a parade before the ground of past players from that day – Scotty Thorton, Byron Schammer, Steven Dodd, Daniel Gimore and Shane Parker were all available I hear. From the current team list on Saturday only David Mundy played back in 2006. Pavlich obviously too emotional to get on the plane and come over for the commemoration services, reliving his 3 brownlow votes from the comfort of his home, while Sandilands tried to get the Antonov An-225 Mriya to take him too Tassie but apparently it got cold feet when he turned up at the airport and they saw the size of the pay load.

At the same time that Freo were winning that historic game two blokes were being rescued from a collapsed mine down in Beaconsfield, having lost a mate in the same disaster. With due respect to those men Freo’s season resembles something akin to the mine collapse, only I can’t see where the rescue is coming from.

On that day in 2006 my wife’s Nan, who was due to turn 80 that year, went along to watch her beloved Saints play. She recalled to me that she had a wonderful day yelling choice words at the umpires after the match. She has a huge smile while recounting the pleasure the debacle at the end of the match gave Saints fans. If you don’t win then having a draw incorrectly handed to your team is as good. Well this year she is due to celebrate her 90th, so she decided to come along with me, along with my father and my brother who have travelled across from WA for the match. She’s still in good nick and would put many 70 year olds to shame, heck she puts me to shame how active she is. Must be the Tassie air.

My first impression of Aurora Stadium / York Park is one of wonder as to why it is so hard for Freo to win here. It looks like an ordinary footy ground. Sure there’s a cutting wind across the field and dark clouds that are carrying snow according to Nan, but hey I have no idea why a team from drought stricken WA can’t fly to Melbourne, stuff around waiting for a connecting flight to travel the final 50 minutes to Launceston and then wait for a few days in a quiet little country town to play against the reigning premiers … and win.

Fremantle have played the second most AFL games in Launceston behind the Hawks. On top of that Freo’s training ground is the furthest in the AFL from York Park. Makes sense that they get scheduled each year to play here.

Freo have the most Tasmanians playing on the day with the Hawks fielding Grant Birchall while the new McPharlin in Alex Pearce and the fleet footed Lachie Weller suit up for Freo.

The game itself … well as Nan put it while drinking her beer and eating her pie (what a champ) there just seemed to be a lot of Freo players not trying, such as Zac Clarke. The effort to half time was good, but then the puff went out of the Dockers in the third as skill errors handed over the ball to the Hawks. Goals rained down in the third, unlike the actual rain which stayed away. Half of the goals could be ascribed to free kicks for careless head high tackles, and equally poor kicks from the likes of Mundy and Sutcliffe coming out of defense. The pressure was off and the Hawks started to freewheel.

The final term comes around and there’s no fight left in the match. The best bit of biff I see is when Nan clips the young boy in front of us over the ear for being a constant little pain all day. His mother sits 4 seats away from him engaged in conversation with her friends, while his father is across the aisle 10 seats away focussing on the game. He’s obviously done this before and doesn’t want to be disturbed by 4 young boys with little interest in the game.

And so it stands, as I recall the miners in Beaconsfield and the song that goes “No you won’t get me down underground in your mines, away from the trees and the flowers so fine, down in the dark where the sun never shines”, I think of Freo and start to hum “You won’t catch Pav down in Tasmania at York Park, down in the cold where the clouds are so dark, 7 hours away from Freo ‘cos the AFL don’t give a ……  you won’t catch Pav playing anymore at York Park”


HAWTHORN      4.3    6.6    14.13    17.14   (116)
FREMANTLE      3.0    7.2    7.4    11.9   (75)

 Breust 3, Gunston 3, O’Brien 2, McEvoy 2, Puopolo, Lewis, Gibson, Hill, Birchall, Smith, Sicily
Fremantle: Walters 2, Mayne, Hill, Crozier, Langdon, Neale, Griffin, Ballantyne, Mundy, Weller

3 votes – Larry Knight (RIP)

2 Votes – Brandt Webb

1 vote – Todd Russell

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  1. Peter Fuller says

    I consider your votes admirable, but I reckon you should have found a way to squeeze your Nan in, What a trouper!

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