Pond's Nick Allbrook Previews AFL Grand Final: Pant-Shitting & Window-Smashing

27 September 2013 | 2:11 pm | Nick Allbrook

"The Fremantle Dockers were shit! WERE! Past motherfuckin’ tense!"

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Before 1995 I didn't really care about footy. I lived in Derby, in North West Australia, and my friends and me were too innocent and far from the rest of the world to have any sporting loyalties based on nationality or geography or time. We were into NBA of the early '90s and late '80s or whatever was at the video store. Derby was such a footy-centric place, too. I remember one of my dad's friends asking me why I “didn't like sport”. I said I did, I liked basketball, but that wasn't what he meant. The irony passed me by.

Then one joyous day, Dad announced that Fremantle were starting an AFL club and we were all to be devoted fans. His enthusiasm was infectious. I started designing a logo immediately. 'The Stingrays' was my submission for the team name. Looking back it seems strange that I was actually trying to decide what name I'd like my footy team to have. To think there was a time when the Dockers didn't exist! This entity, this tribe, that's been so central to my life since was once no more than an idea. Crazy, mang. So anyway, I jumped straight on the bandwagon. I was converted. Out with Alonzo Mourning and Scottie Pippen, in with Shaun McManus (I know). Dad got me a membership. I got beanie, a poster, a football, a scarf (still got it too, spammed it all over USATV – *swag*). I even got a tape of the song and, no bullshit, listened to it on repeat so, so many times. Oh, the promise of glory! The tribal drums! The hulking masculinity of the chant! Oh, how my young heart did swell when that massive key change burst out of the breakdown and ushered in the soaring triumph of pinch harmonics! Holy crap, get me a glass of water. Some '90s Fremantle session shredder needs to be given the key to the city for that one.

But those days didn't last. Soon we realised the song was nothing more than a stolid dirge – a flat, dull chant perfectly representative of the Dockers' lacklustre on-field performances. The anchor was no longer a symbol of strength and maritime heritage, but of our destined position on the ladder. When my family moved to the big city (Perth is so a city) and the innocence of rural childhood drifted away, even the colour purple (always my professed favourite as a sprout) was shown to have far more dire implications. High school is cruel. Purple is 'gay'. The Dockers are shit. Dockers victories were so sparse and desperate. I hold only one or two glorious memories of jumping around the lounge room with Dad, ecstatic, screaming to high heavens the names of Peter Bell or Jeff Farmer. Dark days.

As everyone in high school constantly reminded me, the Dockers were shit. But wait… WAIT! This is the whole point of the article! This is why I'm not too embarrassed to go ahead with writing this! The Fremantle Dockers were shit! WERE! Past motherfuckin' tense! In fact, now we're looking pretty dang good for a spot in the... No. Don't say it. It's too precious, too sacred to even say aloud. I've been waiting too damn long. I always said that if the Dockers even made the GF I'd have a cardiac arrest in the first quarter and die never knowing the result. And now it's getting close. Here's hoping I can hold it together, maybe keep it to an embarrassing but far less permanent pant-shitting or window-smashing or just a good old cry. I'm excited either way. They've done so well; Ross Lyon has built them into a fearsome unit. The young players are killing it. The old are killing it. They're winning convincingly. No more “oh we're ahead, it's half time, let's just chill and hope for the best, good job anyway, lads!” type bullshit that defined the early days. The anchor is again strength. Purple is pride. The chant is manly. Now, at long last, I am the proud, unwavering supporter of a champion team – and all the years of sorrow and gloom and shrinking under the smug-ass gaze of Eagles supporters and East Coasters has just made it that much sweeter.  No matter what happens, Pav, Ross, Fyfe, Hill, Walters, Tendai… Everyone, you're all invited to my house for a beer. You deserve it.

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