Purple reign

THE Fremantle Dockers’ famed “purple haze” almost didn’t come about when the newly formed board held out against using the colour in its club jumpers.

It was Fremantle Football Club chair Ross Kelly who overturned opposition led by board member and then-Notre Dame University vice-chancellor Peter Tannock.

“[When] we went outside I said to [CEO David Hatt] ‘tell them to run the purple jumper’,” the former chair says in an interview for Fremantle Dockers, an Illustrated History.

The book is a “warts and all” look at the Dockers’ first 20 years in the game, written by former Herald journo Les Everett, who also briefly served on the board.

The pages are peppered with interviews with management, CEOs, coaches and players, from inaugural captain Ben Allan to current great Matthew Pavlich and rising star Nathan Fyfe. It includes stunning photos of the club’s glory and dust days.

Australian rules football in WA began in Fremantle with a meeting at the Cleopatra Hotel on High Street, in 1895, “when one of the rugby clubs decided to play the new game,” Everett says.

The Dockers came about a century later because the Victorians “thought the Eagles would be a juggernaut and wanted to water that down”.

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Everett clinically appraises some of the club’s controversial decisions, including the sacking of Mark Harvey: “The club wanted what they saw as the best possible coach available,” he says, noting Damian Drum was dealt with even less sensitively, learning from the media of his sacking.

Everett is also circumspect about the Fremantle Football Club’s anticipated move south to Cockburn, a decision that has upset its passionate purple army in the port city.

“It’s just another one of those difficult decision the club has had to make,” he believes.

“I’m mystified by some of the reaction: the team does some training in Fremantle, but the main sessions are at Subiaco, and in the future will be in Burswood.”

Everett’s been passionate about the Dockers ever since sleering off from his then-teaching job to attend a press conference announcing the new club.

Asked why supporters have been so loyal despite the club’s long and frustrating years in football wilderness, he’s lost for words.

“There is something about the Dockers. I can’t put a finger on it except to say it manifest itself in the Melbourne grand final last year.

“It was amazing, Fremantle supporters had an effect on Melbourne.”

You’ll find Fremantle Dockers, an Illustrated History ($49.95) at New Editions, Shepherds Newsagency, Dymocks and the Dockers shop.


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