By Simon White

It was with some interest that I read on the weekend how John Worsfold thought critics of his team might have been jealous.

“Even the fever pitch that the high-tackling issue got to to last week – was that a bit because it was West Coast or would it have been that big if it was any other club?” Woosha was quoted as saying.

Off the top of my head I can think of three clubs who could raise an issue about the Eagles without being accused of jealousy.

Their names are Geelong, Collingwood and Hawthorn and they have shared between them the five premierships since West Coast last won one in 2006. You can probably also throw Carlton and Essendon (16 flags apiece) into that list.

Still, in the lead-up to Sunday’s western derby, I’ll happily concede that my club – Fremantle – has several reasons to be envious (in a respectful kind of way) of the mob down the road.

There are the premierships (three to zip), the Brownlow medals (two to zip), a Coleman medal (one to zip) and a finals appearance record that reads 24 games to six since the Dockers’ inception in 1995.

That said, this shouldn’t be – and isn’t – a one-way street. So, just for Woosha and all Eagles fans this week, I present five reasons why they should be jealous (respectfully of course!) of Fremantle and its supporters.

1. Clive Waterhouse:
A blast from the past here but, before Cyril, there was Clive. While his on-field pecularities disguised some of his talents (106 games, 178 goals, a 50-goal season in 2000), Clive Waterhouse remains the only player in the history of either Fremantle or West Coast to be known to the football world solely by his Christian name.

Don’t believe me? Well, try walking down the Hay Street Mall and bellowing out John (Worsfold), Peter (Sumich or Matera), Guy (McKenna), Ben (Cousins), Dean (Cox) or Daniel (Kerr). The only reaction you’ll get (aside from folks thinking you are loony) will come from people who share those first names. Now, do the same but with “Clive” and watch as members of the public gaze around nervously, preparing to be run over by an erratic Viking-looking fellow dressed in purple.

Incidentally, with Jeffrey (Farmer), Kepler (Bradley) and Clancee (Pearce), Fremantle has three more viable candidates in this area. So there.

2. We won the best derby ever:

Some people have tried to claim last year’s second derby, decided after the siren on Hayden Ballantyne’s “oh-so-close” shot from 50 metres was the best of the 34 derbies to date. But comparatively that was just your bog standard game, in which West Coast should have won by five goals, the Dockers closed late on the back of some inspiration by Nat Fyfe and the wee man Ballantyne provided one of the more amusing failed celebrations in sport by jumping around like a mad man and then falling in a depressed heap.

No, the best derby ever, was clearly round 21 of 2000. Clive promised that blood would be “spilled” and it was, with Dale Kickett and Phil Read engaging in as good a piece of on-field boxing as you will ever see. Aside from the biffo, the Eagles at one stage led by 42 points but lost by a single point, with Clive booting seven majors. Phil Matera was knocked out by an umpire and Mitchell White got KO’d by Troy Cook. Pretend you don’t support either team for a second and try and tell me this isn’t the kind of match a neutral would love.

3. Hayden Ballantyne and Nat Fyfe:
Everyone’s seen those (admittedly hilarious) emails about Fremantle’s deplorable recruiting record. The Andrew McLeod earring episode, initially trading away Jeff Farmer for Phil Gilbert (then going and getting him back), the Trent Croad-Luke Hodge swap (hey, we got Luke McPharlin as well) and deciding a teenage Peter Bell wasn’t much chop. But slowly the Dockers are getting better at this caper and they got two up on the Eagles here.

West Coast fans hate Ballantyne. But none of them could possibly be crazy enough to think the Eagles have been better served by taking Tom Swift at No. 20 in the 2008 National Draft, when Ballantyne went to Fremantle with the next pick.  As for Fyfe, well he was Fremantle’s second pick at No. 20 in the 2009 draft. I’m comfortable enough with the Dockers’ decision to take Anthony Morabito with the first (No. 4) but I’m thinking more than a few Eagles fans might wish West Coast (which had Fyfe on its recruiting radar) had called “The Knife’s” name at No. 7, instead of Brad Sheppard.

And yes, there are probably quite a few examples of the boot being on the other foot. But this is my blog and I’ll write it how I want to. Plus, as good a list as the Eagles currently have, it would be better with Ballantyne and Fyfe on it (PS – get well soon Nat).

4. Matthew Pavlich:
West Coast has had players who were better than Pav – Cousins, Chris Judd, Matera and Glen Jakovich spring to mind. But I’d suggest that, by the time Pavlich retires, no player from either WA club will have a more impressive overall record.

Barring horrendous injury or an even more horrendous loss of form, Pav will break Jakovich’s record of 276 games for a WA-based player by season’s end. Next season he could push on to be the first Eagle or Docker past 300 games, which will be some feat. He will have done this weighing almost 100 kilograms, having spent a good portion of his career chasing much smaller blokes in the midfield and with (at least) six All-Australian jumpers in his wardrobe, including one at full-back.

I can live with Eagles fans questionining Pav’s goal-kicking accuracy (I do sometimes as well) but they also need to acknowledge that he’s been just a little bit good. And, if he’d ended up on the other side of town, he would rank quite comfortably inside the top-10 West Coast players ever.

5. We’re better losers:
There’s no scientific measure for this. And West Coast fans would, quite rightly, suggest us Dockers people are simply more practiced at it. But the saying goes that one should win with grace and lose with dignity and I reckon the Fremantle faithful have taken it a step further by always managing to be beaten with humour intact.

Take, for instance, the image below – perhaps my all-time favourite AFL meme.

Honourable mentions:


The white Freo away strip - far from the days of shocking purple, green, red and white mixes, we now have the best clash jumper in footy.
Zac Clarke - not only can he jump over a court announcer to dunk a basketball, I’ve heard he can also switch the rock through his legs and go 360 while doing so. Alas, the unfavourable publicity from Nic Nat’s effort early in the year prevents him from putting it into practice in public.

One more thought:
If you can’t be respectfully jealous, at least be thankful Fremantle exists. As a caller to 6PR suggested on Monday night, the list of West Coast heroes with links to the port is pretty extensive – Worsfold, Jakovich, Mainwaring, Matera, Cousins, Sumich, Kerr and David Hart, to name but a few. 

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