Changes test Freo fans’ faith
Change is supposed to be as good as a holiday.
Maybe not if the vacation is actually a one-way trip to the AFL scrapheap.
The throw-out pile belonging to Fremantle is currently the biggest in the league.
In the space of 12 months, the club’s famous – or possibly infamous – anchor logo, something of great pride to true port footy supporters, has been pulled and turned into what looks like an out-of-shape paper clip.
The original jumper, coloured in maritime starboard and port, has been sunk.
The unique theme song is also about to be swamped.
And now the coach, who just 12 months earlier had guided a rebuilt team into the finals, has been sent “down below”.
It is an extraordinary transformation for any club. It is even more remarkable for one that has been operating just 17 seasons.
All of these decisions were made by a board, which is mostly unanswerable to Dockers members. Most of the moves were made under a president, Steve Harris, who has been in the post two seasons.
Only a quarter of the board is elected by those that buy season tickets, merchandise, corporate suites and sponsorships. The other 75 per cent is elected by no-one. They are appointed with the sanction of the WA Football Commission. Football supporters are also unable to vote on the WAFC but that leads to another story for another day.
So, in essence, the majority of the Fremantle board is not answerable to those that are the club’s lifeblood.
Sure, Dockers management can point to surveys, focus groups and polls and say they were guided by the opinion of particular fans when changing guernsey, tune and brand image.
Then why are so many Fremantle fans so angry about the revamp of the club? Social media overheated with frustrated Dockers diehards lamenting the continual change in the wake on Thursday’s sacking of Mark Harvey.
That attitude will further fester when Fremantle officials front media to explain why a popular coach was so unceremoniously dumped. At this stage we doubt there will be an address by the board to the fans at Fremantle Oval.
The board, no doubt, want the Dockers to thrive and flourish and make calls based on that premise.
But within a year the AFL team known as Fremantle is barely recognisable.
There are plenty of fans who feel the Dockers have thrown out too much.
The club’s brain strust must now spend the next six months working diligently to convince those same supporters not to toss out their membership renewal forms.