Big 150 as Luke McPharlin etches Fremantle life membership in Derby XXXII
LUKE McPharlin feels at home.
At home in the AFL, at home in defence and at home with the Dockers.
The Fremantle key-position star will play his 150th game for the club in Sunday’s Western Derby, making him eligible for life membership at his second club.
McPharlin has become such a fixture with Freo that his 12 games with Hawthorn in 2000 and ’01 are almost forgotten. Had he not been traded back home to the Dockers as the Chris Connolly era began in 2002, he could have easily held the premiership cup aloft with Shane Crawford and Lance Franklin two seasons ago.
But rather than looking back, the 28-year-old is focused on the future.
“It was a difficult decision to come home, but in the end I think it was the right one,” he said. “It was a pretty whirlwind couple of years for me. I was pretty excited at the prospect of playing in Melbourne and Hawthorn were terrific for me.
“I was injured a lot in my second year, but it was predominantly a bit of homesickness and wanting to come back and play for Fremantle. There’s no jealousy at all. They were a terrific team in ’08 and thoroughly deserved the premiership.
“It had been so many years since I’d played at Hawthorn that it really didn’t feel like I had any ties there any more.
“I’m a full Fremantle man and I’m just committed to finding some success at this team.”
McPharlin, taken by the Hawks with pick 10 in the 1999 national draft, barracked for West Coast as a boy before swapping his allegiance to the Dockers when they entered the competition. He said his milestone meant more because of his strong connection to the area.
“My grandfather (Ray McPharlin) played for East Fremantle; I grew up around Fremantle; I’ve always had a strong link to Fremantle,” he said.
“The last few years I’ve managed to string a few games together and it’s something I’m immensely proud of … to have such a strong association with the club.”
McPharlin will play his third game back from a two-month layoff with a medial ligament injury when he takes to the Derby field.
He praised the Fremantle medical staff, saying he felt like he had returned barely lacking in fitness or touch.
As has been the Dockers’ way all season, McPharlin refused to speculate about what September might bring and instead warned of the danger posed by the 16th-placed Eagles today.
“It is a danger game. They’ve got nothing to lose; they can just go out there and throw caution to the wind,” he said.
“Derbies are unique in that it’s a finals-type atmosphere; anything can happen really. We need to absorb that and then play our brand of football.”