Many of us who enjoy sports are drawn to teams we think reflect us. That team for me is the Fremantle Dockers. Affectionally known as Freo, the Fremantle Dockers represent the grit of the hardworking people that live in the Port of Fremantle area. That same grit can be found in my father who grew up in East Fremantle. Consequently he instilled in me the value of hard work and not to be afraid of being the underdog… in fact we kind of like it.
I’m a long way from Fremantle these days, living in Seattle, USA and now also a huge fan of the Seattle Seahawks. The link for me between the Australian Football League (AFL) and the NFL here in the US is Darren Bennett. One of my earliest memories is of my dad and I watching our local Aussie Rules football team, the East Fremantle Sharks and watching a young Darren Bennett take control of the game with awesome kicking for goal. That guy went on to play for the San Diego Chargers and was a two time Pro Bowler (1995, 2000), and was honored be being selected in the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team and was inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame. Not bad for a boy from Freo.
When I watched that game the idea of having a Fremantle team in the AFL hadn’t even crossed my mind. Nor had the idea that I would one day live on the other side of the world. It has been the grit, determination and a healthy dose of adventure that I’m where I am today, and it’s those qualities that see Freo off to the best start to a season in club history, 8-0. But what a long roads it’s been for this perennial underdog. Those of us who jumped on to support the team from day one of the Fremantle Dockers know what I mean. As do the fans of the Seahawks. Both teams have struggled badly at times. But not any longer.
Two years ago when the Seahawks won their first SuperBowl the Dockers reached, but sadly lost their first Grand Final in front of 100,000 people.
It’s in the the trials and tribulations of supporting a team that hasn’t been a successful club that one finds the value when that team turns from being the underdog to being the best. And what a feeling it is for us fans. All the disappointment, frustration turns into ecstasy, jubilation and our loyalty is repaid in spades. But what I love most about the Dockers is not that they are wining now, but that while the talent of the team has wained at times the commitment has not. That’s the grit. You can see it in this video that spans the life of the Dockers, from day one.
At 8-0 maybe this is the year for Freo, I certainly hope so, but regardless of whether they win big prize this year I’m in for life. #foreverfreo