In November 2021, Fremantle Dockers chief govt Simon Garlick introduced a daring strategic plan for the membership.
Throughout the 2022-2025 seasons, Fremantle needed to win a minimum of one AFL and AFLW premiership, obtain three top-four finishes throughout each side, and common 50,000 followers at Perth Stadium for its males’s aspect whereas rising its membership base to 80,000.
The membership additionally needed to common 6,000 followers at its ladies’s matches, whereas turning into one among the league’s prime monetary operators.
Whereas all components of the plan will contribute to the long-term success of the Dockers, it was the formidable purpose of premierships which attracted consideration and headlines.
Getting into the second 12 months of the technique, it may be argued — particularly on the lads’s entrance — issues are trending in the precise route.
The Dockers completed sixth in 2022, ending a finals drought which went again to 2015, and did so largely with out former captain Nat Fyfe and with a misfiring ahead line.
It is affordable to count on Fremantle, with its raft of proficient youth, to push on and hunt a top-four end. Certainly, the membership itself expects a minimum of a top-six spot.
“We might be actually very dissatisfied if we did not get to the extent that we achieved final 12 months,” Garlick stated on the membership’s season launch.
However he additionally warned that development is not linear, that golf equipment regress or stagnate whereas bettering over time.
Regardless of that warning, will probably be arduous to placate expectant followers if the Dockers do falter at occasions this season.
Fremantle supporters appear to have shifted from hoping for achievement, to anticipating it.
The brand new guard
A lot has been made from Fremantle’s brigade of younger, proficient gamers, with Andrew Brayshaw ending fourth within the 2022 Brownlow Medal rely, whereas additionally being named the participant’s participant of the season.
He, together with Caleb Serong and Will Brodie, will carry a lot of the Dockers midfield accountability, following the retirement of David Mundy and the transfer of Fyfe to the ahead line.
With Sean Darcy, star recruit Luke Jackson and Jaeger O’Meara additionally within the midfield, Fremantle has a centre line which ought to greater than maintain its personal.
And it has depth, with James Aish, Nathan O’Driscoll, Neil Erasmus and Matt Johnson vying for spots.
Defence hasn’t been a difficulty in latest seasons both, with recently-appointed captain Alex Pearce main a unit which conceded the equal least objectives final season.
However on the different finish, potential points loom.
The lack of Rory Lobb to the Western Bulldogs and Griffin Logue to North Melbourne has left a gap in a ahead line already struggling for measurement and consistency.
Fyfe might want to enhance his purpose kicking to be a harmful ahead, which he demonstrated within the pre-season, whereas Matt Taberner’s health will all the time have questions marks.
He performed 13 video games final 12 months, and 16 the one prior. He is kicked 60 objectives in that point.
If Taberner can keep on the park, if Fyfe throws his physique round, and if Jackson or Darcy can bob up for a pair a match, they need to be capable of put scores on the board.
That’s plenty of ‘ifs’.
The Dockers seem on the verge of one thing, maybe a premiership, however how they go this season will present plenty of perception into whether or not success is on the horizon.