During the obligatory small talk over my recent Remedial Massage I was asked who I support in the football (and football in Western Australia is AFL) the very brief conversation went like this
ME: “Freo Dockers all the way”
BEN: “Oh, who’s your 2nd favourite team?”
ME: “There’s no such thing as a 2nd favourite team”
BEN: “Good answer, I go for the Eagles”
And just like that Ben the man with the magic hands, saviour who has freed me from headaches and looking like the hunchback of Notre Dame unveiled himself as a sworn enemy. As in this fair city there are two teams, if you support one you loathe the other – I am yet to meet a fence sitter.
One to the North, one to the South, like Capulets and Montagues, Sharks and Jets, Tom and Jerry if you will, for a long time it was the haves and the have nots. The West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers….
Before 1994, I didn’t really give a shit about football only that I ‘hated’ the Eagles – in the way that all good sports mad fathers brainwash their young the best reason I could give was ‘cause Dad said’ (I wasn’t even in double digits yet and oh so impressionable) So when it was announced that Fremantle was getting a football team, being born and bred from the port city there was no question this was who we now supported.
The name was announced, the uniform unveiled (PURPLE!!), the song released. Thrilled about it all a – scarf was bought, a flag was purchased and I signed up to be part of the supporter squad – still have the Purple Hark Yakka overalls to prove it. But sadly the good days didn’t last, because as the Eagles steamed ahead to multiple premierships, Fremantle barely got a win, teenagers teased, purple was apparently ‘gay’ and the Dockers were ‘crap’ (they were crap) The bi-annual derbies where the two Perth teams met were demolitions which saw Fremantle shellacked from anything from a couple goals to 117 points (true story) Their wins were so achingly few and far between it seemed like the anchor was not so much a tip of the hat to their maritime past but a symbol of how low on the ladder they could sink. If nothing else it bred loyal people, for no matter how shit they got I still supported them.
But the tide has changed, the uniform updated, a new coach appointed, and we have started to win nay started to get good –really good, for the first time in 20years you can loudly admit who you support without jeers and pity. We even made the grand final in 2013, although sadly falling short in the last quarter (I would say that I remember the game well, but riddled with nerves I started my day with an espresso martini over breakfast and I think you can fill in the blanks yourself)
2015 has been no exception, starting the year with 9 straight wins and game play so uncharacteristically good for a team we’re used to seeing hit the brakes after half time, finishing top of the ladder with the Eagles only one spot behind has stirred Perth into a pandemonium of ‘Beetles’ proportions. With both teams playing this weekend for a spot in the Grand Final, the looming possibility of a Western Derby Grand Final is so achingly close you can almost taste it. Stroke inducing nerves border lining catatonic would best describe the reaction if we get a win this Friday, the boys (yes ‘the boys’) can beat anyone when they play their best and they need to. Pav, Fyfe, Ballas, Sonny, Hill, Ross….. Pull together fellas and give us something to cheer about. EEEEK!!
Tickets go onsale in an hour – wish me luck!