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TEN YEARS AFTER

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TEN YEARS AFTER by William from West Perth

The hardy band of long-suffering Demon followers of the most prosperous state in the Commonwealth welcome back their team on Saturday night in the hope that it can turn on something better than it has on previous visits dating back more than a decade.

Only once in that time has Melbourne tasted victory west of the Nullarbor and that was on a rainy day at Subiaco in Round 11, 2004. It was Brock McLean's breakout game and Peter Vardy lit up the ground with his # 19 jumper.

But I missed that game and the last time I saw a Melbourne win in these parts was against the Eagles in Round 19, 2002 when the Demons fell in by 6 points to break a three game losing streak and secure a place in the finals.

I remember that day well. Travis Johnstone was in sizzling form and Adem Yze was not far behind him. Ironically, the Eagles hadn't lost all year in Perth.

Melbourne fought back after being jumped in the first quarter and booted seven to one in the second. West Coast came back in the third before Melbourne delivered with the wind in the last.

That was Sunday, 11 August, 2002 and it was a far cry from Melbourne's last visit to WA when we were humiliated y the Eagles on a hot April day early this season.  In the absence of Mitch Clark to kick five goals in a single handed performance, who knows how large the West Coast Eagles winning margin would have been?

This week against the purple haze, there will be no Mitch Clark and a number of others from the Demon visit to the ground will also be among the missing. We won't have a chance to farewell Brad Green either because he has hung up his boots.

The Dockers swamped us in the final term at Etihad just a few weeks ago kicking 7 goals to nil and the last nine of the game to turn a three goal deficit into a 34 point win and that was when Freo was out of form! Three weeks later they demolished West Coast by 75 points on the very ground on which Saturday night’s game is being played. No doubt as a result, Sportsbet is offering me $12.00 the win for the Demons!

Still, I am an unabashed supporter and I will be there to farewell the team at the end of its dreadful 2012 and hope that 2013 will bring much better things to come.

THE GAME Fremantle v Melbourne at Patersons Stadium, Saturday 1 September at 7.40pm (AEST)

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Fremantle 15 wins Melbourne 13 wins

Patersons Stadium Fremantle 8 wins Melbourne 3 wins

Since 2000 Fremantle 11 wins Melbourne 9 wins

The Coaches Lyon 1 win Neeld 0 wins

MEDIA

TV Fox Footy Channel at 7:30pm Channel 7 (live)

RADIO SEN ABC774

THE BETTING Fremantle $1.03 Melbourne $12.00

THE LAST TIME THEY MET

Fremantle 18.9.117 defeated Melbourne 12.11.83 Round 16, 2012 at Etihad

Melbourne led for the first three quarters but its grip on the game was loosened as a result of injuries to Mark Jamar and Jamie Bennell while one or two other were wonky. The Dockers, with Matthew Pavlich starring ran all over the locals who had put in a strong performance earlier in the game but wilted badly at the end.

THE TEAMS 

FREMANTLE

Backs Adam McPhee Luke McPharlin Zac Dawson

Half backs Lee Spurr Michael Johnson Paul Duffield

Centreline Michael Barlow Ryan Crowley Tendai Mzungu

Half forwards Michael Walters Christopher Mayne David Mundy

Forwards Hayden Ballantyne Matthew Pavlich Clancee Pearce

Followers Aaron Sandilands Nathan Fyfe Stephen Hill

Interchange Jonathon Griffin Garrick Ibbotson Thomas Sheridan Nicholas Suban

Emergencies Zachary Clarke Jesse Crichton Dylan Roberton

In Jonathon Griffin Matthew Thomas Sheridan

Out Kepler Bradley (concussion), Zachary Clarke Matthew de Boer (ankle)

MELBOURNE

Backs Joel Macdonald James Sellar Tom McDonald

Half backs Jack Watts James Frawley Lynden Dunn

Centreline Jack Trengove Jordie McKenzie Jack Grimes

Half forwards Luke Tapscott Colin Garland Rohan Bail

Forwards Jeremy Howe Jared Rivers Sam Blease

Followers Mark Jamar Colin Sylvia Nathan Jones

Interchange Jack Fitzpatrick Neville Jetta Daniel Nicholson Josh Tynan

Emergencies Jordan Gysberts Jake Spencer James Strauss

In Jack Fitzpatrick Mark Jamar Josh Tynan

Out Brad Green (retired) Jake Spencer James Strauss

Milestone Jared Rivers 150 games

Things move very quickly in AFL football. A week ago, nobody expected the door to the finals to be shut tight at this point in time. There were many Docker supporters around my workplace who feared their team would lose to the rampant Kangaroos once Matthew Pavlich was ruled unfit for last weekend's game. The expectation was also that Carlton would give Gold Coast a hammering, a result thay would have put the Blues in the eight leaving the Dockers supporters with a nervous week in the lead up to a challenging round that could easily have seen their finals hopes in tatters. 

Well things turned out differently with the Gold Coast Suns scoring a sensational victory over Carlton (goodbye Brett Ratten) and Fremantle knocking  over North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium. 

With the top eight done and dusted, the game on Saturday night assumes a different level of importance. For the visitors it's still one of the toughest games on its fixture but one wonders how the Dockers are going to approach the game. 

On the one hand, there is the view that Fremantle, armed with the knowledge of the outcome of other games played earlier in the round, will tailor its game accordingly. If an eighth place finish gives it the benefit of a home final Derby against a fifth placed finishing West Coast then there are some who might argue, a moderate sized win or even a loss becomes the priority. The flaw with this concept is that, as I pointed out above, things move quickly in the AFL. With Essendon meeting Collingwood at the same time, a shock result in that game would leave egg on the face for Ross Lyon because their first final would suddenly become an away game at the MCG against the Magpies.

I don't think they will flirt with their form on the eve of only the third final series in their history - especially as they've just struck a rich vein of form in recent weeks. I expect Matthew Pavlich to suit up for the game and Aaron Sandilands needs a big warm up after an injury interrupted season. There will be no surprise omissions, no strange positional moves and no tanking.

Besides which they don't need them based on the look of the young side selected by Melbourne for this game. Many far more experienced Demon outfits in the past have struggled with the configuration of this ground. I just can't see them troubling the home side.

Mark Jamar is back but has played little football in the back half of the season and will struggle against the tallest bloke in the competition. The midfield is capably led by Nathan Jones, who has had a great season,  but in its entirety, it lacks the strength  and experience. Colin Sylvia is coming good at this late stage but the forward line, lacked the goalkicking ability even before Brad Green retired and I don't expect miracles in his absence.

The best we might expect in terms of excitement are some exciting speccies from Jumping Jeremy Howe but in any event ...

 

Fremantle by 36 points

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That game must have been great to be at William, I remember listening to it on the radio, in a car, outside my in-laws place in Sydney.

And I really wanted to be out West watching that game.

Thanks for the preview.

Carn the Dees.

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