Teams: Australian Football, Italian Football
Freo breaks year-long losing streak with comeback
By Chris Lines
Saturday, August 04, 2001
FREMANTLE today snapped a year-long losing streak in stunning fashion, coming from seven goals down to beat third-placed Hawthorn in the biggest AFL upset in years.
It was on July 30 last year that the Dockers last won, and before today's 16.10 (106) to 13.12 (90) victory they were considered near certainties to become the first team in 37 years to go through a VFL/AFL season without a win.
Trailling by 41 points in the second quarter against the third-placed Hawks, Freo looked like receiving a regulation thrashing.
The comeback was justifiably celebrated like a premiership by the success-starved Dockers, who gathered in the Colonial Stadium centre square after the siren in a team embrace before saluting their long-suffering fans.
'I'm thrilled for all our supporters and all our staff, all the players and the coaches - no-one knows how tough it is to be 0-17 and this is an enormous relief,' club president Ross McLean said.
The winless record disguised the fact Fremantle had been in winning positions in several matches this year, but lack of confidence, belief or footballing savvy had always snatched away the four points.
'Finally at three-quarter time they had a belief...for whatever reason they showed some steel and it was a great to finish off,' interim coach Ben Allan said.
'It was a pretty long final quarter from our point of view. I kept asking Norm our stats man how long to go.
'They won't go overboard because we're 1-17, we know that, but its just a huge relief for the boys and they've got to have some respite - they're going to enjoy it.'
Hawthorn led by 40 points midway through the second term when young Freo forward Matthew Pavlich inspired a mini-revival, dishing off one goal and kicking two of his own to narrow the gap to five goals at the main change.
Hawthorn were without any fit players on the bench in the second half - captain Shane Crawford had a corked thigh, Daniel Chick a hamstring strain, Jade Rawlings an ankle problem and Tim Clarke a suspected broken collarbone.
Freo rattled on three goals in the opening six minutes of the third term, and when Steven Koops snapped his second, the gap was down to four points.
However, the Hawks steadied to hold an unconvincing 13-point advantage at the last change.
Hawthorn coach Peter Schwab had committed not to give the three-quarter time address as he eased himself back from last week's heart problems, but must have been sorely tempted to give a much-needed rev-up.
The Hawks led by 14 points at the 12-minute mark of the final term and looked like hanging on before Pavlich inspired again with a goal from deep in the forward pocket, the superb Peter Bell snapped another and Koops roved to goal at the 16-minute mark to put Freo in front for the first time.
The home side missed a couple of opportunities to take back the lead before Justin Longmuir kicked his fourth and fifth goals of the second half to seal the famous win.
'A top four side playing a side that hasn't won a game and we can't beat them is not good form regardless of the circumstances,' Schwab said.
'It's effectively obliterated what happened last week for us.
'Hopefully it's a wake-up call for us, hopefully the players understand how tough the competition is and how much they have to fight for it - the next month of footy will be very interesting for us.'
Chick was likely to miss two matches, Crawford and Rawlings one week while Clarke was out for the season if tomorrow's x-rays confirmed a break.
Freo's Heath Black will front the tribunal on three seperate counts after an angry and undisciplined first half.
Was King Italy..