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  • Writer's pictureThe Chief

Never As Bad As It Seems

In a world suffering wars, inflationary pressures, a housing crisis, market volatility and deep political division, it seems unrest and uncertainty reigns. Sometimes footy fans, or rather more so us Freo fans, need to use those external concerns to revert to bigger picture and wider perspective, purely as a grief dealing modality and coping mechanism.

Sure, right now we’ve got the telescopes out looking longingly for the meteorite but simultaneously a hint of our deeply entrenched eternal optimism has us believing we will be able to shimmy and side step it.

Saturday was a tough night and it’s been a rough season and that sounds absolutely preposterous considering we’re just two weeks in. But despite the likelihood of some slight regression or more so consolidation this year, expectations couldn’t be tamed. The lid is probably floating in the stratosphere! Consequently, it’s understandable the momentary depths of depressive devastation us Freo fans are suffering has Pfizer jostling for opportunistic position front and centre.

At the minute we are all in pain and looking for answers. I mean… look I don’t want to be overly dramatic but right now its difficult to tell the difference between our Freo memberships and the nuclear subs we’re all apparently buying. Both hit us in the hip pocket, we wonder if we need them and when we use them, devastation ensues! Yes, I know... I said I don’t want to be overly dramatic; I didn’t say I wouldn’t be.

The truth is our ability as Fremantle fans to take the soul-destroying hits, rehabilitate, recover and back up the following weeks and years is legendary. We’ve become so accustomed to the necessary process; it has become subconsciously ritualistic and part of our preseason preparation.

To be honest though I think the seven-day therapeutic road to recovery program pamphlet that accompanies our memberships is probably taking it a step too far. I mean what happens when we’re on a six-day turnaround?

On a serious note, this isn’t a piece to try to urge Saturday night and the season so far to be viewed through purple rose coloured glasses or with apocalyptic intent. The beauty of football is that everyone can watch it, assess it and opinionate it as they see fit. Indulging in spirited discussion is an important part of the joy of footy and without that emotion it fails to exist.

To be honest I’m just simply throwing a bunch of words together for reasoning, for meaning and for positives for my own personal mental benefit, in the hope of fast-tracking the healing.

In the context of this season, the expectation on Freo and our difficult draw, there is no getting around it - at this specific point in time we’re waist deep in the mulligatawny. Two losses to kick off the season isn’t ideal, especially given they were from two games we had penned in as vital wins.

So yes, the losses hurt and they have put our season on the back foot. Being zero and two with a tough run ahead… it’s a bit like drinking beer at Optus Stadium out of paper cups - it suddenly feels a race against time.

However, it is more so the manner in how we lost them, than the losses themselves. I lay no claims to the title of expert as I don’t know any more than the next guy or girl, but it appears to me the on-field system is malfunctioning. The mid forward connectivity complications we suffered but reasonably managed last year, have seemingly expanded further up the ground.

The cohesion across the board, the implementation of practiced game plans, the proactive transition of strategies and the coinciding necessary composure all seem currently problematic, if not entirely absent.

Is it a product of personnel turnover? A net loss of age and experience from 2022 to 2023? Can we roll out the ‘improvement isn’t linear’ line? Can I simply continue asking rhetorical questions until the Derby bouncedown on Sunday?

The positive about it all is that it is rectifiable. Cohesion and synchronicity are obtainable. It may not be switch flickable but it isn’t something we need to rebuild from the ground up… well unless you’re Adam Cerra.

Having previously possessed such cohesion on an encouraging and workable level last year, it can be retrieved. It will come from meaningful practice under game conditions and will benefit by a strengthening of unity. Does the team need bonding exercises, like a Bro-camp? I said Bro-camp not Crow-camp!

David Mundy's departure has seen us lose about eighty years of experience in the middle from last year so our issues aren’t exclusive to up forward, but our forward line is quite indistinguishable to the one we rolled out in 2022.

Luke Jackson is a 21 year old kid on debut with us, Josh Treacy played 4 games last year and is 20 years of age, Nat Fyfe is trying to transform into a forward, Jye Amiss is still only 19 after just 3 games last year, Sonny Walters has had an injury interrupted preseason, Sam Sturt is looking for a way in and Matty Taberner is obviously dealing with some form challenges.

In the cold hard light of day, once the purple dust has settled and you’re in somewhat of a more rational mind, you realise these denial dwelling excuse sounding reasons are actually just facts. We’re relying on kids and a network that hasn’t realistically had time to gel.

Consequently I would suggest we’re being somewhat unrealistic to expect that forward unit to work like a well-oiled machine in sync and productively cohesive this soon. How, with so many new parts, could it not for some time be an ongoing experiment?

I understand the anger from fans. Many live for the Fremantle football club, it means more to us than the air we breathe. It’s a deep passion and the angst stems from the accumulative effect of the pain of disappointment. Venting is simply an instinctive human response, a release, it is a method of healing.

But in our darkest hours those who can see and keep perspective will be stronger for it. I mean when you think about it, in the straw grasping greater scheme of time, we’ve been in the competition five minutes. How does that saying go…. “Rome wasn’t built in 30 years” …. And look at the ruin that is the Colosseum… see what happens when you rush things?

We’re two games in, we’ve got twenty-one games ahead of us. Its obviously not the ideal start and yes there is work to be done, but wind the clock back twelve months and you’ll recall we were in an almost identical position. The entire difference between the end of round two in 2022 and the end of round two this year is Heath Chapman’s famous game saving tap.

In round three in 2022 we turned up, switched on and destroyed the Eagles by 55 points instigating a five-game winning streak. This Sunday in round three again we play the Eagles. Is that the hit of symmetry and synchronicity we’re looking for?

After losing a semi-final in 2005. there was disenchantment and unrest down at Geelong in 2006. They won their first two games, they were sitting top of the tree and then they capitulated to miss the finals. Mark “Bomber” Thompson was unfairly under pressure and plans were being thrown around to replace him.

Many Geelong players threatened to walk if Bomber was sacked. They and the fans rallied around the coach and the team and they dug in. Geelong won two of the next three flags, in 2007 and 2009.

The body of work that got Fremantle to that semi-final last year cannot be dismissed or undone in two games of footy. Often you have to go back a step to continue moving forward. Is that what is happening at Freo at the moment? I don’t know but I sure am willing to find out.

Well, I don’t know about anyone else but I’ve selfishly managed to work through and alleviate much of my own built-up grief from Saturday night. I’m almost back to being cautiously optimistic!

This coming Sunday we’re looking for redemption. Admittedly with performances that seemed all too authentic, we’ve strategically lulled our West Coast Eagle opponents into a false sense of security.

To paraphrase the words of the great Gloria Estefan, its time to “Turn the beatings around.”

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