I began writing this article on Sunday afternoon before the final two games of AFL round 21. It serves as a time capsule of hope. Also one of frustration, angst, anger and regret. I have not changed what was written.
Writing Begins Sunday 8th of August 2pm
As a Fremantle fan the next fortnight is full of trepidation. Because the possibility for Fremantle playing finals is growing. Oh and the other Perth team, the West Coast Eagles are playing poorly.
There are two games each year that are more important to Fremantle than any others. The Derby games against hometown rivals the Eagles. Big brother West Coast Eagles and little brother Fremantle fight it out twice every season. And the second Derby of 2021 is only a week away.
At the end of this season the Eagles are falling short of expectations. In contrast Fremantle are showing some improvement. As a result of this Freo fans are getting a bit boisterous on social media. Which is nice to see, but I think it is a bit too soon.
At This Point I Still Hope
Sunday night, Fremantle plays Brisbane and on Monday night the Eagles play Melbourne. The following weekend is the derby. A win for both clubs will be needed to secure a finals berth. For the first time in a long while the match between the two W.A. teams is for more than just bragging rights.
I was asked on Friday night by the chef at my pizza shop if Fremantle were finals bound. I am not that positive about it. Recent form against Brisbane is good, but the derby has not been won by Fremantle in a long time.
How long? It was April 2015 when Fremantle beat the Eagles by seven points, 111 to 104. Long time coming. Long enough that I doubt Fremantle can win at all. I want it to happen. I just cannot see it happening. Even against a West Coast Eagles team that is playing poorly.
So tonight means a lot for Fremantle’s finals chances. Yet the result on Monday night between Eagles and Melbourne is just as important. Is it better for the Eagles to win or loose against Melbourne? Which will put them in the better mindset to loose in the week following?
Writing Resumes Monday 9th of August 9:30am
It is Monday morning and the regret-o-meter is currently set to optimum shame. A tawdry showing by Freo at home against a resurgent Brisbane. I was able to check the scores at half time, it was then I knew it was over.
That sinking feeling was deflating for me. I cannot imagine what it was like for those at the game. The ABC broadcasters were trying their best to make the game exciting but you could not hear the crowd.
But Phil you may say there are no crowds at the footy. Remember this game was over in Perth. There are crowds at the game over there. You heard it when there was a free kick given to a Brisbane player.
Why did I even listen to the second half? Well there is a reason. I have seen people leave a game early. I will not be like them. I could only listen when I was in the car delivering Pizza anyway. Yes I could change the station, but that would be leaving the game. I have my pride as a supporter.
Once more with feeling, Eagles or Demons?
On Sunday I vacillated between wanting the Eagles to win or not. Oh no way. Those North of the river swells in their blue and yellow are going down. Melbourne better squash them out of finals contention.
If you go by recent form Melbourne should walk all over the Eagles. Both teams travelled from Melbourne to Perth over the week. Melbourne had an easy win over the Suns. The Eagles got towelled up by Collingwood. That has got to hurt.
Even now I am hesitant as to which team is the favourite. What do I want? Oh yeah I want Freo to get back up off the canvass and win the derby next round. Dang! This is where I left off writing on Sunday. Arrrgh!
Sigh! This is proving to be a very painful article. Is this why football commentators and journalists try not to write as fans? Probably.
Resumption 11:21pm August 9 2021
So Melbourne won. But not in the way that gives me any kind of confidence. For those who were not watching, the final quarter went for more than 50 minutes. Because of lightening strikes. Melbourne were up by more than thirty points and then the game was suspended.
Out the teams emerged again with 16 minutes to play. From then on the Eagles scored four goals without reply. The rabid fans who had stayed were urging their team to victory. To be honest it was plausible. Melbourne could not get the ball to their end of the ground.
The enemy was time. Eventually the siren sounded as the Eagles mounted another forward assault. The crowd cried for a free kick to Kennedy, Darling, or who ever launched for the ball. No whistle blew. Then the siren sounded.
Was this the worst possible result?
In the final hectic minutes the television commentators where full of praise for the Eagles. Play on at all costs. Keep moving the ball. Get it forward quickly. Meanwhile the Eagles defenders were a kick behind play ready to claim the ball if it were kicked out in panic. Another thirty seconds and this was a grand victory for the Eagles.
Do I expect that this will be the game plan in the derby next Sunday? Man on man, playing on at all costs. Defensive players a kick behind play. I hope not. Hopefully the Eagles will not be able to sustain it for four quarters.
But if you get out to a forty point lead by half time all you need to do is hold off any early resistance. It worked for Melbourne with a thirty point lead.
It is too late to keep thinking about all of this. It is time for sleep. Then re organise this shemozzele of an article and send it in. I just want my team to beat the Eagles.
Resumption Tuesday Morning 9:57am
I cannot deny any of the words written in this article. It is raw and desperate in tone. Often pleading and spiteful at times. This is all true and I am ok with this. This is the fans journey. It varies from week to week. I still do not know why we do it, but we do.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.