REBUILDING is a term that has been and will be used at the Fremantle Football Club for seasons to come. We’ve seen the veterans struggle and the fringe players capitulate, and if the fans want to see good football in the near future it’s these 7 players who will unfortunately be moved on. After a highly successful era at the Dockers that spanned from 2010-2015 they have since become battlers after the retiring, delisting or trading of club stalwarts. At the mid-point of the season after the bye I list 10 players who will not be wearing purple next season.
1. Hayden Ballantyne
It will be unlikely we’ll see this man in his dear purple next season. After spending 10 seasons at the club, it’s time to see one of the best small forwards Fremantle has produced move on. Unfortunately for Hayden his body is catching up with him and he’ll be 31 on the 16th of July. We as fans and observers can see he just doesn’t have his famous mongrel about him anymore, and when ‘Ballas’ cheek is gone for good you know he’s overstaying his welcome. Unless he can do a Mark LeCras and reinvigorate himself over the next half of the season and in the pre-season his AFL career is done. However if he is moved on, he can certainly provide his assets at the ground he has a wing named after him at, Rushton Park, the home of Peel where he won a Sandover medal at.
2. Michael Johnson
It’s the truth and it’s the painful truth for Michael Johnson. A great running half-back, who was integral in the clubs ‘golden’ period, he’s played close to 250 games for the Dockers since he was drafted in 2004. However we can all see he is struggling to keep up on the field. He looks slow, tired and behind the game. He’s playing in the WAFL and was suspended playing for Peel which is not good signs for the veteran. He has served the club very well but his time has most certainly come to retire.
3. Cameron Sutcliffe
Most Fremantle fans would not have noticed but Cameron Sutcliffe has played 101 games for the Dockers. A player who I have personally liked over the years for his consistency, he has served Fremantle well in a defensive role for the club. He played in the 2013 Grand Final and played most games during their most successful period between 2013-2015. However he has also been suspended in the WAFL like his teammate Michael Johnson and hasn’t played since round 1 in the away loss to Port Adelaide. He will go out quietly at the end of the season as he does not look like coming back from the WAFL anytime soon, however I hope he gets a shot later in the season.
4. Lee Spurr
Lee Spurr has been the most underrated Fremantle player ever in my opinion. Since 2012 when he was drafted as a 25-year-old from South Australia he has managed to notch up 120 games. He unfortunately has been struck by injury this season and hasn’t been able to get a game at all. He has been as consistent and as hard as they come, battling the big guns for 7 seasons as a Docker. Spurr will be 31 in July along with Hayden Ballantyne and his time unfortunately is running out to get a game in purple as age is a factor. He will be remembered by me for his stellar effort in the clubs greatest ever win in 2013 vs Geelong in the Qualifying Final in Geelong.
5. Danyle Pearce
It is sadly time to go for Danyle Pearce. One of three Pearce’s to play for Fremantle, he has played 258 games, 104 of them for Fremantle. Since arriving as a free agent at the Dockers from Port Adelaide in 2013, he just kept notching up the games for the Dockers playing 93 games in 4 seasons, a remarkable effort. He has most certainly served the club well, but has lost his way since 2017, only playing 8 games since his 250th in round 1 in a loss to Port Adelaide, sound familiar Cameron Sutcliffe? He will most likely be delisted or retire at the end of 2018 when his contract runs out.
6. Brady Grey
What is it with struggling Fremantle players and Port Adelaide? Brady Grey made his debut in 2015 in a famous selection debacle that saw the former minor premiers rest 13 senior players and debut four new players. Grey will be very stiff but since he’s been injured he has not been able to play a senior AFL game since round 20 last year. He has once been delisted, after last season, where the Dockers showed the faith by re-drafting him in the rookie draft of that year. I can’t see Grey making it back this season and his time at Fremantle may have just expired.
7. Ethan Hughes
Took the famous number #15 after Ryan Crowley was delisted in controversial circumstances at the end of 2015. A super athlete, statistically the fastest player in the AFL, was drafted as a rookie at the end of 2015 from Swan Districts. Hughes has managed 25 games in three seasons and has been very serviceable. Last year he played 18 games and cemented his spot. Since last year he has struggled to be honest, only playing one game. He is now a fringe player and at 23, he has made way for younger talent. If he doesn’t get a game from here, expect him to be delisted at the end of the season.
It’s tough to see all of these players go but if the Dockers are to be be a force in three years time, they have to. 5 of the 7 of these players were rookie drafted or arrived via free agency and I grew up watching them so it’s a shame. 803 is the combined number of games that will go out of the side for most likely, younger talent or interstate players. We wish them well in their future endeavours.
Honourable mentions for players just keeping their spot in the squad:
- Shane Kersten
- Tommy Sheridan
- Cam McCarthy
- Ryan Nyhuis
- Darcy Tucker
- Harley Bennell
- Michael Apeness
- Sam Switkowski
- Griffin Logue
- Luke Strnadica