Thrilling matches, tense finals, huge marks and a series of unforgettable storylines made the 2019 AFL season one to remember.
The evenness of the AFL’s top bracket of sides was shown by the fact just one win separated Geelong, who finished first, and the fifth-placed West Coast, while Greater Western Sydney went from sixth to reach the grand final after a stunning September run.
It was Richmond who would ultimately win the premiership, their second in three years, Damien Hardwick’s side finishing the season full of momentum.
A new campaign brings fresh hope for all 18 clubs, though, and our 2019 season reviews take a look at what went right, what went wrong, each side’s best players and how every club can improve.
The next team in the spotlight is Fremantle.
- Ladder position: 13th
- Win-loss ratio: 9-13
- Percentage: 91.9
Fremantle Football Club AFL 2019 Season Performance Review
Fremantle’s consistent mediocrity ultimately ended Ross Lyon’s spell in charge of the Dockers, the club winning just 29 games in the last four seasons. Lyon would have hoped the arrivals of Jesse Hogan, Rory Lobb, Reece Conca and Travis Colyer in the 2019 trade period would see the Dockers return to finals football but the loss of Lachie Neale was a big one. Even an outstanding individual season from Nathan Fyfe could not help the Dockers reach September, with Fremantle winning just two of their last 10 matches. Lyon was replaced with one game left, allowing David Hale to take charge as caretaker, before ex-Docker Justin Longmuir was given the senior coach role.
It all started so well. Fremantle thrashed North Melbourne by 82 points in Round 1, a performance that filled fans with hope. Fyfe won 32 disposals in midfield but it was the even spread of contributors – nine Dockers had 20 disposals or more – that suggested a return to the finals might be on the cards. Cam McCarthy kicked five goals in the forward line, while Michael Walters added three as Fremantle kicked 21.15 (141) in a dominant performance. A Round 5 win in Canberra against eventual grand finalists Greater Western Sydney was also particularly impressive, especially seeing as the Dockers came from behind at the final change to win by four goals.
There is no bigger game than the Western Derby for Fremantle fans but they were shattered with the result of a Round 16 clash against West Coast that saw Lyon’s men trounced by 91 points. The Dockers managed just two goals for the night and were woeful in terms of accuracy, kicking 2.19 (31) against a West Coast side who enjoyed every minute of their big win. McCarthy and Walters were the only goal kickers for Fremantle in the defeat, which was their ninth in a row against the Eagles. You have to go back to 2015 for Fremantle’s last win against West Coast – a statistic that infuriates the Dockers faithful.
The best and fairest
It was no surprise to see Fyfe win the Doig Medal, the star midfielder winning Fremantle’s best and fairest for the third time. Fyfe had not won the award since 2014 but polled 272 votes in a terrific individual season. He finished ahead of Walters and winger Brad Hill, with David Mundy and Ed Langdon fourth and fifth respectively.
He only played 20 matches in 2019 but Fyfe easily won the Brownlow Medal, finishing six votes ahead of Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield. Fyfe polled 33 votes in a season he averaged 29.15 disposals per game and kicked 16 goals. Fremantle won just nine games for the year but Fyfe polled the maximum three votes on nine occasions, and he is now one of just 15 players in VFL/AFL history to have won the Brownlow Medal on more than one occasion. Fyfe also won the vote count in 2015. Walters also polled fairly well, winning 11 votes to finish equal 32nd, but the night belonged to Fyfe.
Fyfe was named as ruck-rover in the 22-man All-Australian team, with the Docker also given the honour of being named the side’s captain. He was joined in the team by Walters, who averaged 21.8 disposals per game and kicked 40 goals for the year. Walters was named on a half-forward flank.
The goal kickers
With 40.17, Walters led the way for Fremantle, a feat made even more impressive by the regular time he spent playing in the midfield. Brandon Matera also enjoyed a good season in front of goal, kicking 30.25 for the Dockers, but Longmuir needs to get the best out of the likes of key forwards Hogan, Lobb and McCarthy for Fremantle to seriously improve. Neither player managed 20 goals in 2019.
The reason to be hopeful
If Hogan can stay fit and find form, the Dockers would benefit from a focal point in the forward 50. A trio of top-10 picks is also reason to get excited, with Hayden Young, Caleb Serong and Liam Henry – taken at picks seven, eight and nine respectively – all joining the Dockers in the 2019 AFL Draft. A new coach will likely bring a new style of play, too, and Longmuir has the players at his disposal to get Fremantle moving up the ladder.