Round 9 – Fremantle v Melbourne: How to get worse in eight weeks of football

For the opening round of the season I thought it was a worthwhile diversion on an Easter Sunday afternoon to pop into football’s home to watch Melbourne stink up the hallowed turf of The G (see match report here).  Fast forward a couple of months, and having completed one of Perth’s high profile fun runs, namely the 12 kilometres of the HBF Run For A Reason (shameless self promotion, but hear about that here.) I thought it would be a good idea to not only see if Melbourne or Fremantle had improved since my last viewings of them in the flesh, but also to see just why the football fanatics of Western Australia needed their new home of elite football sooner rather than later.

Let’s turn our attention first of all on the stadium, known as Subiaco to non-commercial folk of which I am a proud card carrying member of. This is the second time that I have watched a game of football at the ground that seemingly evolved from home base of a state league to concrete canyon to please the Chardonnay sippers who pay as much attention to football as 90% of the ladies focus on the on-track action at the races (i.e. NONE). Some impressions hadn’t changed from 2 years ago, a day where I came, saw and sat through a 21 goal conquering from the Eagles against my Bulldogs. Plenty of seats in the front rows looked as though they were contenders for the latest pressure hose being sold through a late night TV infomercial for four easy payments of $49.95, which ironically is what some of Melbourne’s recruits are worth following their first 2 proper months in red and blue. Other seats (namely the wooden bench seats in the right forward pocket to the right of screen) wouldn’t look out of place as a feature artwork on a wall for contestants on The Block or House Rules, as opposed to looking an integral part of watching elite football in this era. Personally I wasn’t subjected to either of these, making do with a seat at the very back of the famed 3-tier stand, which in reality did serve a purpose on the footy bucket list and gave a decent view of the ground, but not much else.

Probably the strangest part of the off field experience though related to transportation to and from the venue. This has nothing to do with the major project sinking the rail line at Perth station as part of a revitalisation project funded federally, although I was to hear the second Derby of the season would be massively interrupted as a result of those works. For those that have no idea of Perth’s rail system, getting off at Subiaco station DOES NOT get you near the ground, there are signs on both platforms at Subiaco station to notify passengers. Instead football fans have to alight and board trains at West Leederville station, which happens to be before Subiaco when heading towards Fremantle and after when heading from Western Australia’s port city. The station itself, whilst being a Trent McKenzie long bomb from the ground itself, seems rather inadequate to handle the masses that gather every match time. For Melbourne folk, it’s like building a ground near Broadmeadows, yet having the ground a stone’s throw from Jacana station. To make matters worse, the train for the return journey to Perth didn’t stop at the Perth station, with a couple of fellow commuters having to follow me across the platform at Canning Bridge station (on the Mandurah line, which for those who believe in 6 degrees of separation type games is the home base of Peel Thunder, soon to be the virtual reserves team for Fremantle) just to get back to the CBD.

It may seem I’m WAFL’ing on about the off field endeavours too much, but to be honest the on-field action didn’t really rate a mention. Fremantle didn’t need to even consider reaching for the gear lever to find second, for Melbourne’s performances would not have looked out of place in the reserves at Rushton Park. The effort from the Demons was arguably worse than what they displayed in the opening round, movement for their clearing kicks was absent, pressure could be more easily found in the shower of someone’s home whose water had been disconnected, spark seemed to be left at a nearby mechanics and too much was left to too few. Plus the couple of times they tried to play on after a behind nearly came unstuck. Putting my coaches hat on the self kick-in should really only be used by players who have decent leg speed (which the likes of Lynden Dunn simply does not have) and has a chance to at least create an option further up the ground well outside the defensive 50 which again didn’t happen (both kicks turned out to be long to contests, which could have been done without playing on. Perhaps they’re looking to inflate their Dream Team value…..). Against teams the calibre of Fremantle on their own patch each of these elements are required to even be competitive, yet I left after the final siren thinking that Fremantle could have won by 20 goals if THEY (Freo not Melbourne) had even bothered trying hard.

There were a couple of occasions where I did make mention of Melbourne’s poor efforts to someone who obviously was a fan of Andrew Wills given his choice of attire…..a GREEN DOCKERS AWAY JUMPER. When the victorious WA team from the Under 15 Kickstart championships, played in Townsville for indigenous youths, I mentioned to my colleague that maybe someone should hand them Melbourne jumpers, surely they’d be more competitive. Then came the time honoured call of simply adding Richie Benaud (That’s 22 for the uneducated) to the crowd figure of over 32000 mainly Fremantle tragics. Still the local newspaper managed to outdo my efforts apparently super imposing some of the Melbourne players in their Sunday publication as “The Easybeats” giving the good old playing for One Night Only call. Sadly until Melbourne put something close to an AFL standard performance where it counts, such headlines and remarks will only mix in with the now weekly call for the head of Mark Neeld.

For Fremantle, there is at least a sense of optimism for their future prospects. There are still no fewer than 7 home state appearances remaining, the Derby is an Eagles home game, and their cast is still short handed. Make no mistake they were missing a number of players who would most likely be in the starting XXII of several clubs, and each win they get without the likes of Pavlich, Sandilands and Hill plus the in form Griffen (who won’t be back) and Walters can only be seen as a bonus. Coach Ross Lyon also had the right attitude after the game, basically tossing this game from the memory bank to figure out just how to make sure North Melbourne lose a less than a goal again (sorry North fans, couldn’t resist).




FREO: Ballantyne 3.3, Mzungu 3.0, Crozier 2.3, D.Pearce 2.2, Mayne 2.0, Mundy 1.2, Crowley 1.1, Fyfe 1.0, Barlow 1.0, Hannath 1.0, Ibbotson 1.0, Silvagni 1.0, Clarke 0.1, RUSHED 0.4
MELB: Howe 2.0, Trengove 2.0, M.Jones 1.0, Watts 1.0, Bail 0.1, Dunn 0.1, Nicholson 0.1, RUSHED 0.1

FREO: Fyfe, Mzungu, Johnson, Ballantyne, Spurr, C.Pearce, Dawson, Barlow
MELB: Trengove, Howe, N.Jones

(If I was giving Medal votes, 3: Nat Fyfe (FREO), 2: Lee Spurr (FREO), 1: Hayden Ballantyne (FREO))

FIELD: Luke FARMER, Sam HAY, Leigh FISHER (Emergency: Scott McPHEE)
GOAL: Dale EDWICK, Matthew LAYCOCK (plus a cameo appearance in the first quarter from our mate in the review box)


About Mick Jeffrey

32 Year Old, Bulldogs Member and tragic. Reserve Grade coach after over 225 combined senior/reserves appearances for Brothers AFC in AFL Capricornia. 11 time Marathon finisher, one time Ultra Marathon finisher and Comrades Marathon competitor 2017.

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