Analysis: The Trouble with Fremantle

The Dockers have won their first six games and sit two games clear on top of the AFL ladder. You’d think there would be a bit of a strut going on around the port city but it’s not quite like that. The fans are doing their share of muttering, some players are dissatisfied and the coaches, as coaches admittedly always do, can see areas for improvement.
The fans are worried about the fadeouts. The Dockers didn’t score a goal in the last quarter on Saturday night against Essendon; they appeared to go home at half time of the derby, were comprehensively outplayed in the third quarter of the Sydney game and outscored in the last. Fremantle has a 50% record in last quarters in 2015. They have won 16 quarters, lost seven and drawn one. I watched Nathan Fyfe closely at Subiaco Oval on Saturday night and can tell you he’s not happy. He missed two set shots for goal against the Bombers. After he missed two in the first quarter of the 2013 Grand Final he vowed to improve this area of his game and it was better in 2014. In 2015 he’s improved every other aspect of his game but set shots remain an issue. Fyfe did a lot of muttering on Saturday night, you may have heard a commentator or two mention he’s ‘arguably the best player in the competition’ but he’s far from self-satisfied.

Michael Walters made a remarkable return to football late last year after missing most of the season with injury but he’s not in form in 2015. He’s misfiring and he’s getting frustrated, trying to duck through tackles and holding on to the ball too long. At his best he’s in the top five players in the team but is not at his best. Yet. Hayden Ballantyne is not in his All Australian form and the two-game suspension didn’t help. There were signs in the Essendon game. A couple of nice goals and a couple of those, ‘where did he come from?’ tackles. It’s building. Michael Johnson finished 2014 in pain and had back surgery over the summer. He’s still slotting into the right spots but his kicking is a little off in 2015. History says he will improve. Fremantle can get better.

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. David Zampatti says

    You’re right, Les. We sit right behind the Freo bench, and it was very noticeable that Nat Fyfe and Sonny Walters were coming off grumpy on Saturday night.

    We were hoping Walters might be subbed out, because he was way too tightly coiled for his own good, and Fyfe just looked like there was something going wrong every time, not just after he’d missed shots.

    Perhaps he was unsettled by all the mothers dangling their babies over the fence and begging for him to touch them: “It’s the scrofula: Cure her! Cure her!”. I guess we are living in time of miracles over here.

    As far as last halves and last quarter fade-outs are concerned, there’s no reason for Dockers fans to worry. Freo have scored 221 second half points to their oppositions 211, and 109 to 120 in last quarters (and only two of those weren’t junk time), so there’s no real damage being done.

    If this is a strategy, then, it’s working just fine; if it’s either exhaustion because of the Boss Lyon KO ‘Em Early strategy or subconscious self-preservation, it’s doing no harm either way.

    More often than not it’s significant injuries – or the lack of them – and condition that drive genuine shots at the flag come the finals, and Freo are ahead on both counts so far this campaign.

    If easing through last halves against already-beaten teams is contributing to that, I’m happy to go home a little unsatisfied.

  2. I agree David. I’ve been thinking for a few weeks if this is a deliberate (or sub-conscious at least) ploy, I don’t mind too much. It is a long season, so why not take the foot off the pedal for self-preservation if that is needed. The Sydney game got a little too close for comfort, but we got there in the end.
    The only downside is we lack % if any teams catch up.
    Wouldn’t it be funny if we had a Freo/Eagles GF??!!

  3. Rick Kane says

    Good onya Les, now let every other side analyse what working for them to lose!


  4. Seriously?

    A 6-0 record by virtue of having played and defeated all of last year’s top four teams (with only Hawthorn to come, and even then not until Rd 15 in Tasmania) , a demolition job on Geelong at the Cattery, a runaway win over the Demons with Pavlich and Waters out of the game (so down a rotation for a half of footy) a stirring win in the Derby but because Nat Fyfe can’t kick straight and blokes come to the bench puffed the roof’s about to cave in?

    Give me a spell, PLEASE!

    I WISH that these were ‘problems’ that my club had to deal with.

  5. sean gorman says
  6. Pia Retzlaff says

    Well said Les. There is room for improvement and staying fit and focused will play a big part.
    At the moment it is good to have a two game buffer.
    I guess all we members and supporters can do is sit back and enjoy the ride where ever it may take us.

  7. The slide has commenced. McPharlin has done his calf (again), and Les has started drinking his bathwater, Turf toe can’t be far away.

  8. You’re quite right PeterB and Steve: seriously? It’s harder than it looks.

  9. Oh yea of little faith PeterB. Luke Mac is BACK!

  10. David Zampatti says


    “He has no faith to lose, and he knows it”
    Bob Dylan – Positively Fyfe Street

  11. Lorri – have Luke, Pav and Big Sandi been getting monkey gland injections around the back of the Street Doctor van? Only way to explain their late career bloom.
    But you need to get Walters off the angry pills.

  12. I reckon all the teams should have Australian historical names like Western Sydney Monaros and West Coast Edward John Eyres traipsing the Nullarbor every fortnight. Carlton have already taken on Burke and Wills, and Brisbane are considering Ludwig Leichardt.
    I have written to Les and Sean and David and Lorri about honouring the Fremantle working class history by acknowledging great Labour leaders like John Curtin (who lived just up the road in Cottesloe before it was swanky) and Brian Burke.
    I offered them a marketing slogan “It’s Curtin’s for Freo” and a match cheer “Come on you Burkes”.
    No response yet.

  13. David Zampatti says

    We’ll get back to you shortly, Pete.

    This is not going to be pretty.

  14. The West’s email says “McPharlin out”. There’s a surprise. Calf toe or club foot or something.
    I recall that last year he was “back next week” for about the last 6 weeks of the season. His injuries are like my debt repayments – always next week.

  15. No Pearce. No Freo

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