Last Friday night, my mate Loony and I went to the pub and had a debate about footy.

I know, I know…I’ve started this blog in a very similar fashion at least one previous time this season. But this was a little different.

For starters, Loony and I are both Fremantle supporters. And we both agreed that the appointment of Ross Lyon, irrespective of how it came about, would strengthen the club in the long run.

Where we begged to differ was whether the window of success for Fremantle was wide open or just a little bit ajar because it was too rusted and creaky to be shut completely.

Loony, in between sips of red wine (a cracked tooth meant he couldn’t drink anything cold), argued the Dockers could win a premiership in the next two years.

With a couple of pints under my belt, I reckoned that it would probably take every bit of Lyon’s four-year deal for Freo to become a legitimate contender.

Just to make sure I was right, I used the cold (and sober) light of yesterday to try and come up with something that might resemble a first-choice 22 for the Dockers next year, based on the current list.

F: Mayne, Clark, Ballantyne
HF: De Boer, Pavlich, Fyfe
C: Hill, Barlow, Morabito
HB: Johnson, McPharlin, Mzungu
B: Suban, Grover, Silvagni
R: Sandilands, Broughton, Mundy
I/C: Pitt, Clarke, Ibbotson, Lower.

You’ll note I’ve included Mitch Clark at full-forward. The Dockers probably need him more than West Coast do and, so long as they don’t sell the farm to do it, it’s a trade I’d like to see happen.

I haven’t included Paul Duffield. If he stays, he obviously plays. But it’s clear Fremantle will have to give Brisbane a player to get Clark and I can’t see – nor would I want to see – it being Zac Clarke, not after the dramatic improvement he’s shown this season.

I reckon it’s a pretty handy side and adds credence to the school of thought that Fremantle can definitely return to the top eight.

But it’s also, quite clearly, a side with limitations and not one that I can see challenging for a flag without another few years of development and bolstering.

Looking at that 22, Lyon might see a slightly less advanced version of the St Kilda side that he coached to grand finals in his third and fourth years there.

One similarity is that the Dockers’ absolute cream – Pavlich, Sandilands, Mundy, Fyfe and McPharlin – is very good.

But once you start digging around to find your final three players (especially if injuries hit), there are question marks. Jayden Pitt, for instance, makes my bench more because of glimpses of potential than the fact I think he’s yet a ready-made AFL footballer.

There would also seem to be some issues around foot speed. Again this might be familiar ground for Lyon, who disastrously recruited speedster Andrew Lovett to St Kilda and somewhat more successfully added a pacy former Docker in Brett Peake.

Fremantle’s two bona fide linebreakers are Stephen Hill and Anthony Morabito. Hill’s development stalled this year after an interrupted pre-season, while Morabito didn’t play a game because of a knee recontruction.

Adding more quickness will definitely help the Dockers go places faster.

Personally, I would have liked to see Fremantle handle Mark Harvey’s abrupt termination a little differently. But rather than threatening to burn a membership, I’m now intending to buy one for 2012 and, more to the point, well beyond.

I don’t expect Lyon to be a miracle worker. If, however, he can keep Sandilands and Pavlich fit and healthy to the end of and perhaps even past their current contracts (2014), Dockers fans might finally be in a position to contemplate celebrating something.

And Loony and I can stop arguing over our drinks.

Some other observations from a very interesting week:

WHO is this “Mr Lyon” that a reporter kept referring to during Friday’s press conference? To my mind, the title “Mr Lyon” should be reserved for trying to placate an angry jungle cat, in an attempt to convince him not to eat you. Hopefully the new Fremantle coach will be referred to by all as plain old “Ross” in the future.

WHY won’t Fremantle at least provide a broad brushstroke of the reasons for Mark Harvey not being regarded as the man to take the club forward? Neither the media nor the fans really expect intricate details but it’s not unreasonable to ask for something that helps sort the facts from the speculation.

FREMANTLE can keep peddling the line that it originally contacted Lyon with a view to inquiring about his availability for 2013. But that won’t convince anyone that Harvey wasn’t a dead man walking. In fact, all it would seem to do is create the impression that the powers-that-be at Freo had, at best, limited optimism about what Harvey could achieve in 2012.

IN HINDSIGHT Harvey’s two-year contract extension en route to guiding the Dockers to last year’s finals probably wasn’t the greatest vote of confidence for him. Not when Lyon comes in and gets four years straight away.

THE Dockers delisted five players the week before last. None of them particularly looked like being part of the future but what happens if Lyon now says “I thought he went all right?”

WHERE does the AFL get off in lifting the price of the Record from $5 to $10 for finals games? Apart from a pretty, full-page picture celebrating each round of the season and some frankly crappy black-and-white printing in the middle sections on West Coast and Carlton, I couldn’t notice anything out of the ordinary about Saturday’s edition. “Not-for-profit” AFL my backside!

NOT sure which is more ironic. The fact Saturday’s Record had a Coles “down and staying down” low price advertisement on the front of it? Or West Coast fans booing Chris Judd? Hello, my Eagles friends, if Judd hadn’t gone to the Blues you wouldn’t have had Josh Kennedy at the other end, kicking three goals in blue and gold and helping win the game for you.

AND yes, I know Eagles-supporting readers of this blog may resent today’s Freo focus given West Coast is into a preliminary final. But the Lyon-Harvey situation is just about the AFL’s biggest story of the year. By contrast, West Coast’s rise from the bottom of the ladder is “merely” the best story of the year. And, for now, I’ve run out of superlatives to describe it.

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