Spoon-feeding some life into the derby
Fremantle wrapped up its seventh straight derby win against arch foe West Coast and boy did the team do it in style.
The Dockers’ biggest ever scoreline against the Eagles came courtesy of a barrage of goals from 11 different players, including six from small forward Hayden Ballantyne.
Matthew Pavlich returned to goalkicking form with four majors, and who said ruckman Aaron Sandilands needed a break? The giant outfoxed West Coast duo Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui for the bulk of the game and was a clear winner for the Ross Glendinning Medal.
It was a fun day out in the sun for the Dockers faithful at Subiaco Oval, while for the Eagles minority – and weren’t they a minority indeed – could be forgiven for thinking they were in the rain and hail at the MCG.
Freo caned the Eagles into submission, they were well beaten. But what could have topped off the afternoon was the sight of 40,000 fans waving around wooden spoons.
That sure would have rubbed salt into the gaping wounds of the yellow and blue brigade.
Of course it wasn’t going to happen. Surely it’s not because we’re turning into a politically correct society?
It’s only footy for crying out loud. What’s wrong with a bit of passion and enthusiasm between the fans of teams from the same state.
The western derbies are meant to be the biggest games of the WA football calendar, so I’m all for creating a bit of edge around the seats at Subiaco Oval.
What a sight it would have been to see the wooden spoons. This was a perfect opportunity for the Dockers fans to really get back at their rivals.
Nothing violent, nothing offensive, nothing abusive. Just some good ol’ fashioned fun.
Subiaco Oval – like Chelsea’s home ground Stamford Bridge – can, let’s be honest, resemble the state library at times with its lack of electricity and atmosphere. Games have the propensity to drag on, especially if there’s no excitement in the stands.
Things could have been different yesterday and it was a perfect opportunity for the spoons to come out in force.
The Dockers are finals-bound while the Eagles look destined to bring up the rear of the ladder for the first time in their proud and successful history.
It was a perfect and rare opportunity for the success-starved Dockers to, as Ted Whitten – rest his soul – would say, “stick it right up ’em”.
I respect the fans for listening to Harvey and Pavlich and leaving their spoons at home, instead bringing their voices and purple paraphernalia.
Or maybe the Freo fans decided to take note – en masse – of the AFL’s “National Tree Day” initiative yesterday by boycotting products with wood, I don’t know.
But yesterday could have been the start of something special. The western derby rivalry could have made the next step up and cement it as one of the most fiercest sporting rivalries in the country.
Let’s face it. The players live up to the hype and expectation by often getting into each other with fisticuffs and jumper-punching and wrestling (yesterday was no exception, especially in front of the Dockers cheer squad in the first quarter) which results in dozens of fines and suspensions.
Yesterday, the fans could have taken on the mantle by “getting into” their counterparts, with no violence of course. I can’t stress that enough.
The Eagles won the first nine derbies, the Dockers have won the past seven, making it West Coast 18, Fremantle 14.
The history of the western derby has become extremely interesting.
It’s time for the fans of both sides to live up to the fierce battles on the field and really make a stand.
Need inspiration? One sporting derby sticks out in mind. In Italian football, Inter and Milan clashes are always preceded by amazing displays of support from both sets of hardcore fans, with their “choreography” as it is called. They show love for their team while making fun of the opposition.
And the good thing about the Milan derbies is there is no violence – unlike what goes on between Roma and Lazio in the battles of Rome. It’s just a bit of ribbing and, win or lose, you can freely walk around the main square in downtown Milan in your team’s clobber.
What about NBA team the New Jersey Nets unveiling a billboard of its billionaire Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov and superstar rapper Jay-Z (a minority owner of the Nets) right next door to Madison Square Garden – the home court of arch-nemesis the New York Knicks?
Imagine West Coast bosses doing something similar on the cappuccino strip in Freo. Now that would create a stir.