Kristian Dwyer – TheCoventryEnd.com
Fremantle will never win a premiership under Ross Lyon – mark my words – unless it is willing to change its culture.
As a kid who grew up in Western Australia, I was regularly invited to the kick to kicks with Pav through my primary school and high school, as I was based in the footballing heartland that is the Peel region.
As such, I developed a soft spot for the newly born Fremantle Dockers, a soft spot I held for probably the first fifteen years of their existence.
Many people around the early 00’s felt Fremantle was a club with growth on the cards, and when they finally made it into the finals in 2003, there was much joy from around the league.
The little fella had finally grew up they thought.
Sadly however, the club endured growing pains, and for the next ten years would float around between finals football and an empty feeling in September.
In 2013, when Ross ‘The Boss’ Lyon guided the Dockers to the 2013 AFL Grand Final, many in the west hoped this would herald the first of may premierships.
But it didn’t – as they went on to lose the grand final convincingly, then bomb out of finals contention in 2014.
Circa 2015 and a McLelland Trophy saw the club – in its 20th year – secure their first piece of silverware, much to the jubilation of their long suffering fans.
But again, the club fell short, becoming the first side in AFL history to win the minor premiership and not make it to the big dance in October.
At least there would be some further joy on Grand Final eve with Fremantle wunderkind Nathan Fyfe picking up the brownlow medal, but yet again it was another wasted season for the portsman.
To their credit, the club has distanced itself from failures past.
They’ve shortened the clubs monotonous theme song to go straight to the chorus, dropped the red and green to just become purple and white, and chevrons now stand where the once mighty, perhaps metaphorical anchor did.
But what hasn’t changed is the culture.
At times, just by talking to the fans, you can’t help but think that this is still a ‘growing’ club despite it’s 30,000 plus membership base.
In a discussion with one fan about their premiership drought, they instantly went on the defensive, comparing it to the Western Bulldogs drought of 61 years and that they wouldn’t be worried until that point.
The success of the club as a whole has not been mirrored by either it’s support or the way that the club plays its football on the park.
What has set in, is a case of fans settling for mediocrity.
Now that their team is successful, accepting mediocrity has become easy for the Fremantle faithful, something that I personally cannot tolerate.
As a fan of Sydney from the early 90’s, I’ve had my fair share of mediocrity, and been the first to admit that we’ve been rubbish, and remember the 100 point floggings.
So why was I so specific about Fremantle not winning a premiership under Ross Lyon?
Simple – once again the fans are settling, and not expecting the utmost best from a man who if not for a few errant kicks may already have been a premiership coach with St. Kilda.
Despite being the most successful Dockers coach to date, fans should be already putting an expectation on Lyon’s head for 2016 – premiership or bust.
No more settling for always being the bridesmaid, never the bride.
At times, the club last year were worked out by more attacking opposition who used Fremantle’s possession based system against them.
And at those times, Ross Lyon looked as though he was inable to show the tactical nous to tinker with the vanguard and unleash a responsive onslaught.
Lyon will know that despite picking up Harley Bennell in the trade period and Fyfe dominating in the midfield, that the Dockers premiership window is closing with a lot of their stars heading into the twilights of their careers.
Pavlich will play one more season – could it be the year that the long suffering servant of the club finally gets to hold the premiership trophy aloft?
We shall see, but those making their way to Domain Stadium next year each week, should expect no less.