Hope, and hoodoos. They’re both on the minds of football fans at this time of year, as they fret about their club’s chances of staying alive in the premiership race.

Geelong is the favourite with the bookies to smash the Dockers in tonight’s semi-final, but that doesn’t guarantee success. In fact, in order to win, the Cats will have to break a hoodoo against interstate rivals.

Geelong will tonight complete the rare feat of playing a final against every AFL club – Essendon is the only other team to have done it – but Geelong’s lack of success against interstate teams is remarkable.

Just once, against Port Adelaide in the 2007 grand final, have the Cats beaten an interstate club in September. The Cats have lost four finals to West Coast, all in Melbourne, and once each to Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane Lions. Just two of those losses were interstate.

The Dockers will also have to defy the odds, and history, in order to win. Fremantle has lost its past six matches at the MCG. A $5 outsider, the Dockers will also have to produce one of the betting upsets of the season to win.

Not that fans are giving up hope.

At the website dockerland.com, die-hard fans are playing up their underdog status.

Such is the Freo fervour that, at a Perth performance of the stage show The Man In Black, starring Tex Perkins, a Dockers fan was moved to shout out mid-show.

”The June Carter character was making a point about Johnny always being on the side of the underdog,” the site reported. ”Someone in the audience, wearing a Dockers beanie and jacket, screamed out ‘Go Freo!’ June didn’t get it.”

If you believe the locals, the Dockers have a chance against Geelong because Fremantle is the spiritual home of the underdog.

”We are clearly perceived as the underdogs going into this game, and our town is known for having the underdogs come out on top,” writes the fan Purple33.

”Think of the fact our town was built by convicts. Think of the fact everyone told Charles O’Connor that building the harbour where he did was stupid. Think of our very famous dockers who took on Patrick Stevedores (and the Howard government) and won. Think of the fact that when Ronald Belford Scott dropped out of the local Freo high school at 15 and then spent some time in juvenile detention, everyone told him he’d never amount to anything. Think of Australia II, which defied everyone’s expectations to come from behind and win.”

Another fan points out that the Dockers have a ”100 per cent record in semi-finals”. Which is true, but they’ve only played in one.

Another points out that the Dockers have ”never lost a finals match at the MCG”.

Which is also true, because they’ve never played one there.

Hope can be blind.

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