Archive for June, 2010

Thornton announces retirement


Fremantle footballer Scott Thornton today announced his retirement from the AFL.

The 27-year-old defender played a total of 88 AFL games after making his debut in round 8, 2002.

Thornton told the playing group that the entire club was like a family to him, but that in the end a broken leg had forced his hand.

After he broke a bone in his leg playing for South Fremantle on 7 June, Thornton was scheduled to miss another 8-10 weeks in what had already been an injury-ravaged season. He said the thought of putting his body through yet another rehabilitation program was a major factor in his decision to retire.

“Rehab can be a bit draining,” he said.

“It can take you to your limits every day. I’ve been thinking about retiring for a while now. I’ve only played two-and-a-half WAFL games this year. I just couldn’t put my body through another AFL pre-season.”


Barlow plays down Brownlow talk


FREMANTLE sensation Michael Barlow is keeping his feet firmly on the ground as his debut season climbs to new heights, shrugging off hype that he could become just the third player to win the Brownlow Medal in his first AFL season.

Barlow, who was re-signed by Fremantle until the end of 2012 after just two games, is enjoying a record-breaking debut year that has seen him win more possessions (337) in his first 12 games than anyone before him.

The 22-year-old is now second favourite for the Brownlow Medal with some betting agencies, behind Geelong’s Gary Ablett, but he said joining Fitzroy’s Haydn Bunton and Footscray’s Brad Hardie as player’s to win the illustrious award in their first year was not on his mind.


Dockers defy rash of injuries


FREMANTLE’S unexpected rise up the AFL ladder is even more meritorious than it appears, given the Dockers have had to overcome more than just Victorian scepticism.

As the Herald Sun’s Injury Ladder shows, the Dockers have been without key players for large chunks of the opening 13 rounds … and have exceeded expectations.

Their defence has been decimated with Greg Broughton, Luke McPharlin, Antoni Grover and Michael Johnson missing five games or more.

The bad news for the rest of the competition is the Dockers should have them back soon, plus they have the best run home of any of the clubs who will feature in the finals.


Banned Docker Michael Johnson well on track


PERTH coach Andrew Jarman said Michael Johnson could do with another week in the WAFL after the banished Fremantle Docker made his return from a club suspension yesterday.

Johnson is eligible to make his AFL return against Port Adelaide on Saturday, after missing five matches.

The 25-year-old yesterday played his first game for Perth in five years, kicking two goals in a handy performance as the Demons went down to Subiaco by five points at Medibank Stadium.

Johnson showed glimpses of class, without dominating.

Playing at centre half-forward opposed to Subiaco defender Ben Randall, as well as having a late run in the ruck, he had 15 disposals and presented well to take nine marks.

Johnson’s mark and goal from 55m in the second quarter was the highlight of his day.

“We didn’t expect Michael to dominate the game, we were just pleased that he got through,” Jarman said.


The contender


THE fairytale of Michael Barlow has given the football cognoscenti a shake, planting a rare seed of self-doubt: what if we don’t know best after all? Yet his greatest lesson speaks to us all — no matter how many times you get knocked down, don’t stop getting back up, don’t ever lose sight of the dream.

Barlow’s is a very Australian story, with a central character who would not have been out of place on a different field, in another time, fighting a battle more cutthroat even than AFL football in 2010. Dig for the root of this resilience, and you’ll unearth the crossheads of a nation’s history — immigration, goldrush, war, toil of an unforgiving land by hard men and even stronger women and, above all, persistence.

Michael is the middle of Herb and Jenny Barlow’s five children, the third of four boys. His father — the third in four consecutive generations of Herb Barlows — is a Cobram dentist who grew up at Rushworth, where his grandfather, the pioneer of this magnificent moniker, alighted from England. He soon decided running a butcher shop had greater prospects than digging for gold, laying the foundations for his sons to make a life on the land.


Aaron Sandilands a country boy at heart


IT’S late on a Friday night at the Parkview Hotel in St Kilda Rd and I’m waiting to have a chat with Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands.

The lift opens and out steps Sandilands, towering over everyone in the foyer, especially me.

If anyone deserves to have a swagger about them and an air of confidence, it is the Dockers big man, with what he has achieved with his football over the past few years.

But once we sit down and start talking, the 27-year-old comes across as a big country kid who is a little bit embarrassed by the fame and attention that our game has brought him.


Blowing Harvey’s trumpet


WE HANG on what they say, we scrutinise every move they make, and those they don’t, we analyse every little detail of their task of rousing 22 players into spirited action each week, looking for clues as to just what will unfold.

In a team game of large numbers, it’s the coach who comes to most represent the success or failure of that side. It’s he who explains the victories, rationalises the losses, sets the course being followed and the make-up of the playing group attempting to steer the ship.

It’s his own performance, paradoxically, which is arguably the hardest to assess. It obviously can’t be measured in kicks, handballs or goals, but nor even ladder position, the quality of the tools with which Geelong’s Mark Thompson has to work giving him a clear advantage over, say Richmond’s Damien Hardwick, before the battle has even started.

But it doesn’t mean we can’t have a crack at measuring just which coaches are getting the most out of the resources they do have, and coping best with the various slings and arrows of an AFL season. And the standings on a coaching ladder don’t necessarily go hand in hand with the premiership version.


Collingwood recruiters wanted Fremantle midfield maestro Michael Barlow


FREMANTLE’S mature-aged revelation, Michael Barlow, might have found himself in Collingwood colours, with the Magpies’ VFL recruiters desperate to draft him.

Barlow and Geelong’s James Podsiadly are vying for the honour of the AFL’s recruit of the year.

Last year they were both plying their trade in the VFL, with Barlow second in the J.J. Liston Award for the competition’s best player.

The Dockers chose him in the rookie draft, but it has been revealed Collingwood might have pounced.


Harvey Q&A


FREMANTLE coach Mark Harvey sat down with Nathan Schmook to reflect on the season so far and outline his plan for improvement.

How do you assess your season up to the break?
We’ve given ourselves an opportunity to capitalise on something. We’re finding more and more, barring really Geelong and perhaps St Kilda for that matter, that if you’re around the 60-70 per cent winning strike rate then you may give yourself an opportunity in the second half of the year to capitalise on that. That’s where we’re at.

What would have been realistic expectations for you coming into this season?
Just that the team was going to advance with our game plan and also the experience that we needed to get into a lot of the younger players – to see that evolve.

You made the comparison during the pre-season to the Baby Bombers. Can you expand on the similarities you saw between the groups?
That was more because we’ve got around six guys up around 28-plus, we’ve got 20-odd players between 18-22, so that was the comparison. There are some big differences; the Baby Bombers didn’t travel every second week for a start. It was more on age demographics than anything.


Freo veterans need success: Harvey


REAPPOINTED Fremantle coach Mark Harvey isn’t big on predicting the future, but there is one timeline that is driving him and his players through a resurgent period.

It has to do with senior players Matthew Pavlich, Aaron Sandilands, Luke McPharlin and Paul Hasleby and the lack of success they have experienced at Fremantle.

In a combined 733 games, the long-time servants have amassed just 14 games of finals experience, with Pavlich, Sandilands and McPharlin playing in four finals each and Hasleby just two.

At last year’s Doig Medal presentation, Harvey implored Fremantle’s old heads to help fast-track the young side’s development in an effort to experience success at the end of their own careers.


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