The buzz words of the round seems to be “Ugly Football”.
The statement, in reference to Fremantle’s playing style, could be true. In fact, as a member who always sits through the highs and lows of this rollercoaster team, I can understand the fastening of this term to Fremantle’s playing style under Ross Lyon. But I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing.
Granted, I have never been more bored then when I had to sit through the Fremantle v Brisbane game, and said so on many occasions while I watched the visiting team be defensive to the point of not actually trying to win the game. Fast forward to the Fremantle v Carlton game, and I felt much the same in the first three quarters until they sprang to life, too late, in the fourth. This week, against Port Adelaide, while not as bad, I did find my attention wandering in the first quarter, more interested in a pigeon that seemed to refuse to leave the centre square than I was on who had the ball at any given moment. While I did not want the game against St Kilda because of the Perth Wildcats grand final, the away games against Sydneyand Gold Coast provided much of the same reaction from me. The Geelong game is the only one I can exclude from this list. I thought I was surely going to die that night of heart palpitations it was going that fast.
Take the game against Port Adelaide last week. The game was defensive yes, but from my perspective still exciting. There is a reason the Dockers are ranked number 1 for locking the ball inside their forward 50. There is a sense of poetry around the tackles they lay that gets me excited. Chris Mayne ramming a Power player into the ground in the second quarter had the whole crowd on their feet. When Clancee Pearce wrapped up another and got a holding-the-ball call in the same quarter the crowd went nuts. Everytime there was a fumble or a tackle or a run down there was a cheer. Even Aaron Sandilands got into it in the fourth quarter, charging towards a player who had been called to play on. What a scary sight that would have been.
There is no denying a defensive game is not as exciting as an attacking game, but I for one would rather have the Dockers of 2012 than the Dockers of 2011. Excluding the injuries, the Dockers of 2011 were still highly unpredictable. The game was faster, yes. More exciting, yes. More goals were kicked (most of the time), but for all that excitement the game produced, I still went home with a sour taste in my mouth because they still couldn’t come away with the win. The Dockers of 2012 might have me going off on a daydream at certain parts of the game, but at least they are winning. 5 wins from 7 games is a good start to the year, given the opposition and the relatively tough opening. Add in the fact that they breeched massive deficits of 40 and 30 points against Sydney and Carlton to only lose by 13 and 8 is a testament to how they have matured since last year. When you throw in close contests against Geelong, Gold Coast and St Kilda, games they would have lost last year but won this year, they can play all the defensive football they like so long as they come away with the four points.
I can handle being bored. I cannot handle another unsuccessful year for the Dockers.
What I Liked About the Game
Matthew Pavlich: The favourite son at the Dockers. Dubbed (fittingly) by a commentator as the Purple Heart, Pavlich kicked his 500th goal on the weekend, the first man in purple to do so. It was exciting be in the crowd for that, hearing thousands scream “Kick it to Pav” for most of the second half, screaming at him to bomb it from halfway when he did get the ball up the ground, and giving the captain a standing ovation when he kicked truly with only three minutes to go. Don’t think there will ever be a Dockers player to be more loved the Pavlich.
Paul Duffield: Definitely one of the unsung heroes of the team. Was down on form last year but has been revived under Lyon. He plays the last man back on numerous occasions and racks up the possessions as a sweeper, kicking it on to the midfielders to get it up the other end of the ground. When Duffield is racking up the possessions, the ball is not going through the goals. Fast becoming a must-play member of the team.