Under the hulls of two of Australia’s most famous vessels, John Worsfold today revealed how he could have become a Fremantle wharfie.
The West Coast coach, sitting beneath the nation’s America’s Cup icon Australia II at the Fremantle Maritime Museum, gave an insight into how his life could have been so different as he recounted details of his work experience during his high school years.
“I did my work experience at the Fremantle Port Authority across the road in Year 10 – it was a pretty tough couple of weeks,” Worsfold said.
Despite being an Eagles living legend, Worsfold also revealed strong recollections of WA’s hosting of the America’s Cup in 1987, the same year his club played its first AFL season.
“It was my home town and a lot of my new mates at West Coast came down to Freo a fair bit to not miss out on all the celebrations down here,” he said. “My whole childhood, really, and into early adulthood was based down here.”
He said he remained proud of his Fremantle heritage, but became far more diplomatic when asked whether he would revel in a Dockers premiership if it came.
“You’re putting me under the pump there, mate,” he said.
“But, really, the best team wins the premiership every year and they thoroughly deserve it. I’m always envious of any team that gets up and wins it, but you’re also totally aware of the hard work that goes into winning it.
“So I’d be rapt.”
Sitting next to him, in the shadows of John Sanders’ solo circumnavigation partner Parry Endeavour, Dockers coach Ross Lyon began inciting the Fremantle faithful ahead of Saturday’s big match at Patersons Stadium.
He and Worsfold, who became friends when both were former Carlton assistant coaches, shared a warm handshake before the conference started and engaged in some friendly small-talk about their respective families before their faces typically turned to stone as the official topic of conversation turned to the big match.
“I’d be disappointed if our players were to give more because we’re playing the Eagles than we would any other AFL team,” he said.
“The difference is the spotlight … the spotlight is squarely on you, there’s nowhere to hide. The whole town is involved rather than half the town if we’re playing someone else.
“It’s important to play well in any derby, but obviously our home fans, our home derby, round one.”
Lyon was openly taken by the size of the Australia II sails hovering above him in his first visit to the museum.
“It’s beautiful isn’t it … steeped in history, lovely view,” he said, both coaches looking out through the museum windows to the waters of Fremantle’s North Mole.
But he could not remember where he was the day Australia captured the elusive America’s Cup for the first time in 1983.
“I certainly wasn’t on it,” he said in one of the lighter moments of the often banal gathering.
“But it was a watershed moment in Australian sport, wasn’t it. It’s quite elite, sailing. There’s not too many beaches where I’m from (in the northern Melbourne suburb of Reservoir).”
Worsfold made Lyon wait 13 minutes after the scheduled 12.30pm press conference start before he arrived. It remains unclear whether it was because he had to drag noted Eagles fanatic and current club communications general manager, Gary Stocks, kicking and screaming over the port city boundary.Stocks later admitted he had to present his passport to gain entry into Fremantle.
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