Dockers winning TV ratings war
Dockers winning TV ratings war

Fremantle, a club branded as unwatchable in the first half of last season, has been rewarded for an outstanding second half of 2012 with one of the highest profile starts to 2013.

The Dockers' first four home games are against West Coast, Essendon, Richmond and Collingwood. The derby is a stand alone game on the opening weekend, while the matches against the Bombers and Tigers are both on Friday nights.

The club also has a round-four game against grand finalist Hawthorn in Tasmania which will be broadcast into Victoria on free-to-air TV. Then in the second half of the season, Fremantle will be just the second team to play a night game in Geelong.

Fremantle chief executive Steve Rosich defended his team strongly amid criticism last year and yesterday said the high-profile fixture position reflected Dockers' popularity.

"Clearly the evidence is we are. At the time I was responding to specific requests which I said were premature and that proved to be so," Rosich said.

"The TV audiences for our club last year were really positive. We saw strong growth throughout the year. Our finals game against Geelong was our most watched game in our history with over 1.8 million people watching that game.

"TV has played a role in our fixture. That's the driver of two Friday night home games.

"There's 10 night games in total six of which are home. And the start is a big one."

Fremantle play just two of the 2012 finalists twice - West Coast and Adelaide. They also double up against Melbourne, Richmond and St Kilda.

The Dockers will travel to the Gold Coast, Adelaide, Launceston and Sydney, along with two matches at the MCG, three at Etihad Stadium and one in Geelong.

Six of their matches will be played with only six days to recover from the last match. The club's bye is in round 11.

Fremantle appear to have a kind finish to the season, with their last four matches against GWS, Melbourne, Port Adelaide and St Kilda.

Captain Matthew Pavlich is scheduled to play his 300th match in the clash with the Demons at the MCG in round 21. The six-times best-and-fairest winner made his debut against Melbourne in 2000.

The Dockers' last home-and-away game at Patersons Stadium is against Port Adelaide in round 22. No West Australian-based player has reached 300 AFL games, but Rosich said the club wouldn't consider resting their captain so he could reach the milestone in front of adoring fans.

"That's not within our planning," Rosich said.

The West Australian

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