The Fremantle Dockers started with a dream - and a $4 million debt without a capital base.
In 1991, not long after the West Coast Eagles and WAFL were rescued from financial ruin, WA football administrators turned to getting a second AFL team.
Leading the way was Peter Tannock, who became first chairman of the new WA Football Commission in 1989 overseeing 10 "tumultuous and challenging years" which set the sport up for success in WA. As Fremantle looks towards its first grand final, Dr Tannock this week looked back at that period of dramatic change.
"We really set about reconstructing the football system in WA and to some extent rescuing it from financial ruin," he said of his first years in the job.
"There were a lot of people involved and to the great credit of the football industry, it pulled itself back from disaster."
When the WAFC was formed, the Eagles were insolvent and unsuccessful, the WAFL was in serious trouble and Subiaco Oval needed an overhaul desperately.
Dr Tannock attributed the financial troubles partially to the "unreasonable impost" the AFL put on the Eagles - a $4 million upfront licence fee.
"When the Eagles began, the whole financial base of WAFL football virtually collapsed overnight," Dr Tannock said. "It was a challenging, interesting time."
Dr Tannock said a huge number of people in football refused to let the enterprise fail.
Then the WAFC's fortunes turned. The State Government offered a 99-year peppercorn lease for Subiaco Oval, Federal Treasurer John Dawkins committed $8 million to redevelop it and the Eagles starting winning.
By 1991, the Eagles were secure and planning began for a second WA team to a mixed reaction.
"There was a strong push from the AFL, particularly its leaders Ross Oakley and Alan Schwab," Dr Tannock said.
Unsurprisingly, then Eagles coach Mick Malthouse was "vehemently opposed", with the club wanting to keep its monopoly and only just recovering.
Dr Tannock said though it had taken the Dockers a long time to play a grand final, overall the club had been very successful after its challenging early days.
The Dockers were also saddled with a $4 million licence fee and had no capital base."It was a lot harder and it took a look longer and nothing should detract from where they've got to," Dr Tannock said.