The Fremantle Dockers are fortunate that the one different workforce on the town has been one of many worst the AFL has ever seen, as a result of by any measure their 2023 season has been poor.
West Coast’s dire marketing campaign, one which has yielded only one win from 16 outings, has insulated Fremantle from a lot of the blowback their season to date has deserved.
Save for a four-week spell that culminated in them beating Melbourne away from dwelling, the Dockers have been underwhelming and hobbled by some horrible performances at Perth Stadium.
They misplaced to North Melbourne in an absolute shocker, had been vivisected by the Western Bulldogs and had been picked aside by a Richmond facet years previous their greatest, earlier than what was a meek give up towards Carlton on Sunday.
In that recreation, one they wanted to win to maintain their finals push going, they had been by no means on the races and finally went down by 53 factors in entrance of a shell-shocked dwelling help.
In actual fact, the hassle they dished up towards the Blues was one of the vital disappointing by a WA workforce this season – as a result of followers anticipated so significantly better.
Minus Nat Fyfe, who misses extra video games than he performs today, and Will Brodie, who’s injured however has solely been picked 5 occasions this yr, the Dockers had been just about at full energy for his or her conflict towards Carlton.
Sean Darcy gave them first have a look at most balls from stoppages, but the Dockers had been soundly overwhelmed within the clearances – pointing to a definite lack of urgency or craft from a few of their heralded midfielders.
Far too typically the Blues waltzed away from congestion, and Fremantle gamers had been left chasing shadows.
It was the second consecutive week that the Dockers’ midfield was overrun, after a final-term blitz from the Bulldogs’ engine room final Saturday left them uncovered when the sport was there to be received.
This time it was Sam Walsh and Patrick Cripps who uncovered Fremantle’s on-ball brigade.
Afterwards, Dockers coach Justin Longmuir was a dejected man.
“We acquired overwhelmed up across the contest, and that was in all probability primarily our mids,” he stated.
“Positively in that third quarter we internalised, acquired caught in our personal heads.
“We simply went away from any resemblance of a linked model.”
That is footy coach communicate for “we weren’t excellent”.
When requested why Fremantle had regressed after such a optimistic 2022, Longmuir conceded his facet hadn’t “dealt with the strain”.
Fremantle had received simply two first quarters all season heading into the sport, and so they once more seemed effectively off the tempo early towards Carlton – leaving them 24 factors down on the opening change.
When quizzed concerning the facet’s poor begins, Longmuir appeared out of concepts.
“We’ll stick on the identical path,” he stated.
“We’re taking part in first quarters just like the sting’s gone out of video games. I’d say that is throughout the season.”
Whereas a lot has been made from West Coast’s traditionally unhealthy season, it shouldn’t be neglected that Fremantle haven’t carried out effectively this yr, displaying their greatest solely in glimpses.
The blowtorch skilled on their cross-town rivals has allow them to escape large scrutiny to date.
‘Stress is a privilege’ was a mantra of tennis legend Billie Jean King.
However the burden of expectation has weighed closely on their younger shoulders.
A glass-half-full method would counsel that the younger expertise on the Dockers has them well-placed to contend in coming years.
Somebody with a unique perspective should surprise about this repeated lack of a “linked model”, and whether or not all of the items are in place to see the membership’s imaginative and prescient come to life.
For a facet that has publicly acknowledged its goal of profitable a maiden flag by 2025, and that received a closing final yr, Fremantle’s season to this point has been a bitter disappointment.
After a yr that promised a lot, the powers that be in Cockburn have some soul-searching to do.