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South Fremantle get the monkey off their back

04 OCTOBER 2020 — After 5 years of trying to achieve ultimate glory the bulldogs finally get some silverware.

The 2020 season will go down as one of the toughest seasons in the WAFL due to the global pandemic COVID-19. Most of the teams would of started their preseasons in November 2019 and worked tirelessly to prepare for the 2020 seasons. After 16 weeks of a gruelling preseason the teams were ready for practices matches and the start of the season. Then the news that stopped the world in tracks – we were all in a global pandemic. With no one really knowing what was going to happen everyone was caught in a holding pattern.

At South Fremantle a meeting was called between the coaches, leadership group and high-performance staff. Upon reflection this meeting was the pivotal to the outcome of the season. Together we devised a rough plan for the players to stay relatively prepared pending a return to competition. After 8 or so week in lockdown with restricted access to players we were all given the good news that a modified season would be going ahead, and we had 6-8 weeks to prepare for it.

The first session back at the kennel had an air of excitement about it despite it being restricted to 4 groups of 10-15 players. Everyone made the most of what we could do and were all appreciative of that fact that we were back at footy. The players built back their touch and fitness in essentially another mini preseason. After 4 weeks of restricted training everyone was given the green light to return to full contact training. To see what kind of shape the players were in we put them through a 2km time trial. This time trial returned some of the best results we had seen across the team in five years. This gave the players a great confidence knowing they were in good shape and a testament to the work they had to do while in lockdown – it was all worth it. After this session it felt like something was special and we were building to something great.

Finally, the season was ready to commence, all the hard work in the longest preseason ever was ready to be tested. The Bulldogs were well prepared going 7-1 for the season. Most of the game were hard fought with a few comeback victories and big wins over old rivals. The boys were back in the finals and ready for redemption.

South Fremantle have been one of the top contenders for the last 5 years, in that time they made 3 consecutive preliminary finals and a grand final (which they lost horribly). The 2020 finals series seemed to be heading for the same destiny as previous years, but the boys found a way to make it through to the big dance. Sunday gave them a shot at redemption in a few ways. South Fremantle faced a very strong and confident Claremont who have been a very competitive rival club for many years. Claremont went into the game as favourites after they destroyed South Fremantle in the first semi-final by 47 points.

The game was historic for many reasons being it was the first Grand Final held at Fremantle Oval and one of the few Grand Finals to be held at a venue that wasn’t Optus Stadium, Subiaco Oval or the WACA. Although the crowd was capped at 10,000 the atmosphere felt like there was 100,000 people! The game was hotly contested all day with the game still on the line right until the last second.

Many emotions were felt as the final siren sounded – relief, joy, excitement, and pride. We were just so proud of how the group (including players, coaches, support staff and administration) showed great resilience and find a way to finally get that monkey off our backs.