The history of the Fremantle Football Club has been littered with mistakes and disappointment, but according to president Steve Harris they wouldn’t change a thing.
Speaking at the launch of Les Everett’s book on the club’s first 20 years, Fremantle Dockers: An Illustrated History, Harris said he wouldn’t have wanted the concessions which the AFL’s newest franchises Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast received given to the fledgling Dockers all those years ago.
“What struck me most when I read it (the book) is the difference between the club now and the difference 20 years ago,” Harris said.
“I certainly think one of the reasons the newer clubs have had the assistance and the support is because of the lessons learned out of Fremantle.
“Would we have changed anything about it? Would we have wanted to be a club with draft assistance and financial assistance and management assistance and support? And I actually think no.
“I think one of the things that has made Fremantle the club that it is today and makes the supporters and members and players and people who work here resilient and strong is the history of the club and the way we started and that lack of assistance and some of the hard times we had initially that meant we had to pull ourselves up and stand on our own two feet without support.
“That hardship has helped define the personality of who we are today and the resilience and the way we work and the way we apply ourselves today.”
Inaugural captain and current board member Ben Allan said he agreed with Harris’ assessment and believed their achievements had been impressive over the first three seasons under Gerard Neesham.
“I look back at the start with really fond memories,” he said.
“It is actually some of my proudest footy memories.
“I think considering the conditions that were imposed, it was a remarkable start to a club.
“It was exciting times.”
Current captain Matthew Pavlich, who wrote the foreword for the book, reflected on meetings the leadership group had with then coach Chris Connolly in 2006 prior to going on a nine-game winning streak and falling just short of a grand final appearance.
Everett said you could sum up the club’s history by saying a lot of people had tried their best to make it a good club.
He said being in Melbourne for last year’s grand final appearance was the highlight of his experience as a Fremantle supporter.