Crowley climbs off scrapheap
Fremantle forward Ryan Crowley found himself on the AFL scrapheap at the end of 2004 after two unsuccessful seasons on the club’s senior list and zero games.
The hard-nosed youngster from the Calder Cannons was contemplating a stint in the SANFL before then Fremantle recruiter Phil Smart convinced him to hang around and picked him with selection No.39 in the 2005 NAB AFL Rookie Draft.
The show of faith has been rewarded by any measure, with Crowley set to play his 100th game for the club on Sunday against North Melbourne at Patersons Stadium.
Best known for his relentless tagging work on the opposition’s best midfielders, Crowley says he is proud to reach the milestone given the hurdles he’s faced.
“I obviously got delisted after my first two years at the club, so at that stage it felt like a long way off,” Crowley said.
“It was a pretty rocky road [and] it’s been a bit different to other guys that have got there.
“I suppose there’s times when you wonder if you’re going to get there.
“I’m pretty proud to make 100 games and hopefully there’s a few more to go.”
Crowley has found a new role this season as a defensive forward, shutting Adelaide rebounder Graham Johncock out of the game in Fremantle’s round-three win over the Crows.
The 27-year-old said he still hoped to return to the midfield and torment opposition onballers, with St Kilda’s Lenny Hayes and Brisbane Lion Simon Black his two toughest opponents over the years.
“I do actually enjoy tagging, so hopefully there’ll be more of an opportunity for me to push up the ground,” he said.
“I’ve been able to play on some of the great players in the game and it’s something I’ve enjoyed.
“Hopefully our supporters enjoy what I do.”
After two wins on the road and a narrow loss to Geelong at home, Fremantle has an opportunity set up its season with consecutive games at Patersons Stadium before a bye in round six.
Star ruckman Aaron Sandilands is expected to face the Kangaroos on Sunday, while important utility Garrick Ibbotson, who joined Crowley at Bullcreek Leeming Junior Football Club for a clinic on Wednesday afternoon, is also expected to return from an ankle injury.
Crowley said he hoped to celebrate his milestone game with a win, after the club honoured captain Matthew Pavlich’s record-breaking 239th game last Saturday.
“I’d like to think my 100th is as important as ‘Pav’ breaking the games record, but it’s clearly not,” he said.
“(But) as a kid if someone offered me 100 games of AFL football, I would have grabbed it and ran with it.”