Fremantle Dockers CEO Steve Rosich on the right course
Karl Langdon grills Dockers chief Steve Rosich on the game plan, Cockburn and a first Freo flag.
KL: How’s your membership and corporate support going?
SR: Across the board our membership levels are really strong, and growing. We’ve got a committed group of sponsors headed by Programmed and Woodside, who are committed to the long term. We have more corporates involved with us at this time of year than we’ve ever had, and likewise in revenue, we’re looking at achieving a record revenue level in 2012.
With respect to membership, we achieved in the order of 42,800 members last year, which placed us sixth on the membership ladder in the AFL.
KL: Can you see any increase with bringing in new coach Ross Lyon?
SR: Our plan with respect to bringing in Ross is about giving us the best chance to succeed on the field, and ultimately that’s going to be a big driver of support levels in the future.
KL: Are you worried about the defensive game style as many outside your club would say it will turn fans away?
SR: Our aim is to be a top-four team both in offence and defence. We’re hovering around that mark at the moment in defence at the halfway mark of Season 1 under Ross … We’re not at the level of our offensive game, so that’s obviously a work in progress for the coaching team and the playing squad.
KL: Injuries are again playing their part at this point in the season. You’re six and five in this break how does that sit with you?
SR: Injuries always play a part in the gruelling sport of AFL in what’s a very even competition. We’re six and five at the halfway mark of this season, having won at the MCG and Etihad which was pleasing . . . to take us to three wins from five attempts outside of Patersons Stadium. We’re three from six at Patersons. Our five losses to date have been against teams that are either entrenched in the top four, or aiming to be in the top four: West Coast, Sydney, Adelaide, Hawthorn and Carlton. Our challenge is to continue to improve to make sure we can not only take it up to those sides, but beat them.
KL: What’s going to be the pass mark for 2012?
SR: As a football club, our focus doesn’t change. It’s to return to playing finals football, which we were unable to achieve in 2011. So ultimately that’s what we’re working towards to get ourselves in a position to do that, to play regular finals football and challenge for a premiership.
KL: Your talls are ageing Sandilands, Pavlich, McPharlin. Grover hasn’t played a game this season, but has been a very good contributor and McPhee’s not getting any younger. There’s not much back-up. There’s been a big focus in more recent times on midfielders; can you get these older blokes to a grand final, to that top four?
SR: I don’t agree that there’s not much back-up in the tall-position stocks. Our list management model has secured the services of (Jon) Griffin recently, who’s obviously now going to play a larger part with Aaron out for a little while. And we’re seeing the emergence of Zac Clarke. We also have on our list a scholarship player from NSW, Craig Moller, who adds to our developing ruck stocks. And with respect to our key-position stocks, we’ve also added Zac Dawson through the pre-season draft and Alex Silvagni is pressing for selection.
KL: How much of a part do you play in recruiting?
SR: I’m just one of the executives on our list management committee, along with Chris Bond, Brad Lloyd and Ross Lyon. That group’s role is to ensure our recruiting team has the strategy in place and the plan and the resources to execute according to our list management model.
KL: Uncontracted, unrestricted players you’d have to be in the market for?
SR: The new regime of free agency that you’re referring to is upon us at the end of this season.
KL: (Brendon) Goddard, (Travis) Cloke are just a couple of names for you. They’d be nice, wouldn’t they?
SR: We’re well-placed to deal with free agency, both to try and capitalise on it and mitigate the risks. It’s uncharted waters, so we’ll have to see what unfolds.
KL: It’s fair to say, though, you missed out on Mitch Clark, which was disappointing he chose to go to Melbourne in the end. But you’re in the market for a key forward; there seems to be no doubt about that?
SR: From a list management perspective, clearly key forwards are valuable commodities. If there’s a way and means of us adding to our list via the pre-season draft or free-agency, then we’ll certainly assess that on its merits. It’s been proven that the only other way to get really talented key-position forwards on to your list is via early draft picks. We hope to finish high enough on the ladder so early draft picks won’t be available to us.
KL: When you took on this role your club was criticised for standing for nothing. Are you confident it stands for something now?
SR: Clearly, actions determine that. We’re hoping to be a very big football club and a club that’s known for its success on and off the field in a sustainable manner. We’re yet to secure that. The support levels that we’ve generated in our short history, despite not being a regular finals contender, are simply astounding and we’ll look to continue to grow that support … but in respect to what we stand for, we’ll let our actions speak for themselves.
KL: What do you think they stand for at the moment?
SR: Ultimately, we want to be a premiership-winning club. We want to stand for being a club that plays consistent finals football, and clearly that’s not the case at the moment, but that’s what we’re working to generate.
KL: What’s your biggest challenge ahead?
SR: We’re doing everything possible to achieve exceptional on-field performance, but added to that our other strategic focus is ensuring we’re continuing to grow our strong levels of support.
That will include ensuring that we’re working with other stakeholders to get a great result at the new Perth stadium for the Fremantle Dockers and for football, and also securing new state-of-the-art elite training and administration facilities.
KL: Fremantle Oval, Cockburn – I know that they’ve thrown their hat in the ring. They want you down there you’ve got decisions to make.
SR: We have, and that’s pleasing that we have got decisions to make. We’re working through a very considered due-diligence process to ensure that we arrive at the best long-term result for our footy club, and our players and supporters. Our spiritual and current home is at Fremantle Oval and clearly our preference is to remain there. Pleasingly, we’re working very well with the likes of the City of Fremantle to see if we can bring that to life and also, as part of that process, have investigated other sites, including a site called Cockburn Central West with the City of Cockburn and we’ll continue to do that through this process over the coming months.
KL: Sounds like an unrestricted site down at Cockburn Central where you may have a fairly restricted site there in Fremantle, so that could sway you ?
SR: It could. But it would have to be a compelling argument to move from our current home at Fremantle Oval.
KL: Well, you’re Fremantle and you’d like to be based in Fremantle, wouldn’t you?
KL: Do you think in 2013 you’ll have Fremantle in some shape or form, playing in a reserves side, in and around the WAFL competition or external to that competition?
SR: We certainly hope so. We have an interim solution that we’re looking to get some feedback on from the WAFC and WAFL clubs. That proposal would see us playing some games in 2013, but ideally we’re working towards a full solution in 2013 or soon thereafter.