Writing Us Off? Norwood I
So once more, us Fremantle Dockers fans find ourselves in familiar territory - face down on the canvas covered therapist’s couch. We desperately tried to convince ourselves that we hadn’t just wallpapered over the cracks against the West Coast Eagles but we have actually learned our interior decorating needs some work and we’re not getting a refund back from those tradies.
What do we do? How do we spin a positive? Maybe as a last-ditch attempt to cling on to some semblance of sanity the positive is we can draw on our expertise. We might struggle to hit up a forward but our coping skills are elite! Let’s not call a spade a pointy diggy thing - this is our 83rd rodeo.
As Freo fans in familiar pain we’re in that period where we begin to make absurd problem comparisons as a way to soothe our despair. Like, ‘hey we could be living in the Gaza Strip right now’ and ‘you think you’re going bad, I just dunked a gingernut biscuit and it broke off into my cup of coffee.’ However, while the false equivalence can be the much-needed temporary tonic, the reality is, in context, all problems are personally relative.
While we’re feeling sorry for ourselves, spare a thought for the players. They put in that performance against the Crows so they’d be feeling pretty ill. Then they wake up the next day realising they have to spend an entire week in Adelaide!
Thinking about it, I’ve now got grave concerns about the challenge against the Suns on Friday. South Australia is home to two things, the Barossa Valley and the City of Churches and we haven’t got a prayer! The irony is the players are just an hour from the Barossa Valley but we’re the ones having a whine.
Let’s get marginally serious for a moment and look at where we are with some perspective.
With a more difficult draw this year we needed to make the first six rounds count. Obviously at one win and three losses after four rounds, that opportunistic ship has sailed. Despite hindsight, foresight, analytical projections and Monday expertise, we all live in the now and right now, understandably, most Freo fans probably can’t find the faith to even hang their hat on hope.
What is that you say? No one makes the finals or gets their season back on track from being one and three after four. To be fair, its not exactly easy to disprove but the biased, vested and conflicted fact checkers are calling it misinformation, or rather, not entirely factually correct.
Recently we had the great Bob Murphy on the Restump Podcast and he was asked about the possibilities of making the finals from the position we are in. He treated the question with the contempt it deserved.
He said he doesn’t know and doesn’t care and he was very much shaped by the time in his life in that 2016 unorthodox season at the Western Bulldogs which resulted in a premiership. He said it is true you can’t make the finals or win a premiership from one and three, until it isn’t.
So, with the banning of plastic straws, it leaves few, if any left to grasp, and that is why I’m not only backing Bob’s words in, I went and called up the numbers.
Not only is making the finals from one win and three losses not not doable, its highly evident going deep into September and potentially all the way is possible.
Since 1995 four premierships have been won by teams who were one and three to start the season, a further three teams got to a Grand Final and a total of twelve preliminary finals were made. But beyond those lofty achievements, twenty times teams were one win and three losses after four rounds and went on to make the top eight and play finals.
Now admittedly since 1995 there has been 107 teams that started their seasons off with one win and three losses so we’re obviously less likely than likely to turn our season around to that degree. But as the great Homer Simpson has often profoundly said, “That’s loser talk!”
History says that we’re roughly a 20% chance to make the eight from one win and three losses after four rounds. That means we’re a 4/1 chance. (For those of you looking at investment prospects, the bookies are ripping you off offering you $3 or 2/1 in the old money. You should at least be getting $5).
From where we are right now and looking at the footy we’ve played in the first three or four rounds, it is obviously difficult to see us meaningfully turning this 2023 thing around. However, the twenty teams that did it would have been in a similar state of mind at the same time.
These percentages aren’t insurmountable and as bizarre as it sounds right now, we’re potentially not too far away from being that competitive team we expect. As horrendous as Saturday and the 40-point belting appeared, the reality is we went inside fifty as many times as the Crows did. We’re doing enough to create opportunities.
An increased work ethic, a little composure, some cohesiveness and the addition of some structure and discipline in the forward line and suddenly, as Effie Trinket says, “May the odds be ever in our favour.”
A legendary songwriter and band lead singer once told us "Hey now, hey now, don't dream it's over." I think he fronted a band called Crowded Forward Line.
Anyway, look, we all know where we are, we’ve seen this movie and its numerous sequels many times before. But I’ll leave us with some more wise words from Bob Murphy who said, “It’s all about tickets in the barrel.” Start small and get the basics right and that’s tickets in the barrel. Show some composure, tickets in the barrel, improve decision making, tickets in the barrel.
At the moment our barrel is over-weighted in IOU’s on Post It notes rather than actual premiership tickets, but small steps in the right direction can turn into forward momentum pretty quickly.
Let’s just hope, given that the team is staying in Barossa Valley territory this week, they don’t get their barrels confused.