The Bark Is Starting To Bite
As Freo fans we cope with adversity better than any sporting franchise fans on the planet. We wear hardship like it’s a badge. We’re humble, accepting and forgiving people and we find refuge in self-deprecating humour. While we ache for the destination, we understand the importance of the arduous journey, the perspective it delivers and the character it builds. But even we have our limits.
It’s no secret we have always done things a little different at Fremantle. Over our 25-plus year existence we have experienced, embraced and indulged in a range of ridiculousness, from which, we have been thrilled and devastated, often within a single passage of play.
We’ve ponied up year in year out, turned up week in week out knowing all our hard-earned oxford scholars and our attendance entitles us to receiving nothing more than effort and entertainment. It doesn’t guarantee success and, such is the beauty of the unknown in sport, neither should it.
Effort and entertainment. The entertainment is subjective, at times absent, always unpredictable and ever changing, but the effort should be a constant.
All we ask is for the players to buy in to the cause, exist and perform cohesively and when you pull on the Fremantle jumper, possibly with the exception of that 3D monstrosity, you uphold the true values of the club, our club, the club we all identify with and dedicate so much of our life to. Quite simply, all we really ask is that you always give 100%, unless you're giving blood!
Having said and meant all that, having lived it, we all have our limits. And I don’t know about or speak for the other tens of thousands of Fremantle fans but my limits were reached on Friday night with one particular play.
I believe in common decency, giving and receiving respect, upholding and setting standards that improve yourself, your teammates and the environment in which you’re trying to thrive. And it is not exclusive to the AFL, but obviously on this occasion it’s the focus.
Wind the clock back to around 6 minutes to go in the second quarter in last Friday night’s game. All Fremantle players were doing it tough. We had been overwhelmed by the heat Melbourne hit us with, we hadn’t adapted and most Freo players were under the pump, doing everything they could individually to keep the contest afloat.
A young super talented Heath Chapman tries to inject some run, tries to break the pattern and get Freo’s game going by accepting a handpass and running down the wing. He fires in a long kick which unfortunately was slightly off the side of the boot and didn’t favour the forwards, or I should say a certain forward.
You probably all know where I’m going with this but let’s go to the video.
Now rather than force some sort of contest, Rory Lobb appears to pull up, spit the chewy, throw the toys out of the cot, and then has the audacity to turn around and hurl an angry gesture at Chappy, a young man playing just his 18th game.
Now before the torrent of abuse comes my way with people saying, “no one turns up to your workplace to heckle and criticise you” let me just say, you obviously haven’t worked the traffic lights intersection with a bucket and squeegee!
Maybe in this ultra-professional era it’s a trivial action that no one really is bothered by. And if it was a first offence, it probably wouldn’t bother me. But the reality is it’s a pattern of behaviour that now annoys me. Maybe it is simply an act of frustration that surfaces in the heat of the battle. However, if you’re frustrated at a teammate, you probably should check to see that your own efforts were up to scratch.
When you’re not raising an effort yourself to even attempt to bring the ball to ground, you’ve got no business abusing a teammate. In fact, you’ve got no business publicly chastising your teammate regardless of circumstances. But if you’re so precious that you unrealistically require the ball in your comfort zone sweet spot every single time, or you're going to pick and choose which contests to compete in, then maybe a little bit of self-reflection might be in order.
To make it as an AFL footballer you have to be something special. You have a set of skills you’ve developed; you’ve worked hard enough to get to the top level. It is a deserved privilege only two fifths of half a fraction of the football loving population ever gets to experience.
Rory Lobb is a magnificent and influential footballer when he is on and seemingly when he chooses to be. He has the ability and the potential to be up there in the league’s best but he regularly lets himself down and consequently his teammates.
While it’s obviously an assessment from afar, it seems he is often non-committal on and off the field and doesn’t have the full time temperament required or the respect for fellow teammates. And when you’re almost 30 years of age with just 130 plus games under your belt, I’m not sure you have the credit in the bank to self-righteously berate teammates.
Again, in the greater scheme of things I am open to the fact I may be making a mountain out of a molehill. But different things matter to different people and, despite they’d all no doubt publicly support him as they should, I’d bet my marble halls JL, the rest of the Fremantle coaching fraternity and the players, behind closed doors, aren’t impressed with his actions.
Think back and see if you can recall seeing the 6-time Doig medallist, 6-time All Australian, club captain and 353 game AFL Hall of Famer Matthew Pavlich, or the 371 game, All Australian, Doig winning, club captain David Mundy, or the two-time Brownlow Medallist, 3 time All Australian, 3 time Doig Medal winning so far 208 game and club captain Nat Fyfe, ever publicly and demonstrably berate a teammate?
And while you’re at it, have a look and see if those three, who forever went without team success, ever put the effort cue back in the rack at any stage in any minute in any of their combined 932 games.
Imagine if Rory's teammates angrily berated him at times when he missed a set shot at goal. That is the exact equivalent. It would be ridiculous and uncalled for. But it hasn't happened. Not once has a teammate given it to him for not putting it through the big sticks.
Heath Chapman and the host of other teammates Rory Lobb has angrily chastised over his journey at Fremantle, most probably take no notice of him, and I hope that is the case.
But the bigger picture here is the off-putting actions and the conspicuous lack of intent on the big rare Friday night national stage by someone who is obviously wanting to move clubs for whatever reason and is chasing the security of a longer contract. Is that a characteristic you can put full trust in when it truly matters?
In the greater scheme of things outside the football world this is probably a harsh opinion, and an opinion is all it is. But within context and the code… sorry Lobby, you’ve had plenty of chances and this is far from an isolated incident. Times up and, while I'm sure you won't lose a wink of sleep over it, you and I are done.
If you want to bark at your teammates, it sounds like you should be right at home with the Dogs next year.