Fremantle Football Club - History


See also: Australian rules football in Western Australia

The AFL announced on 14 December 1993 that a new team would enter the league in 1995 and be based in Fremantle. The names "Fremantle Football Club", "Fremantle Dockers" and club colours were announced on 12 July 1994. Their first training session was held on 31 October 1994 at Fremantle Oval.

The decision to base the new club in Fremantle was primarily due to the long association of Australian rules football in Fremantle. The first match to be played in Fremantle occurred in the 1880s and the city quickly became a stronghold of the code, with Fremantle based teams winning 24 of the first 34 WAFL premierships. For over 100 years it has been represented by two strong clubs in the West Australian Football League: East Fremantle and South Fremantle. However it was not represented in a national club competition until 1995, eight years after the first expansion of the then Victorian Football League into Western Australia in 1987 with the creation of the West Coast Eagles.

When the club was launched in 1994, Levi Strauss & Co., which produces the Dockers brand of clothing, challenged the club's right to use the name "Fremantle Dockers", specifically on clothing. As a result, the club and AFL discontinued the official use of the "Dockers" nickname in 1997. However, the team was still known unofficially as "The Dockers", both inside and outside the club, including in their official team song "Freo Way to Go" and the official club magazine "Docker". In October 2010, the strong association that members and fans have with the "Dockers" nickname lead the club to form a new arrangement with Levi Strauss & Co which allows the club to officially use the nickname "Dockers" as well as use the name on clothing and other brand elements. This name change was made in conjunction with changes to the club logo and playing strip.

The team endured some tough years near the bottom of the premiership ladder, until they finished fifth after the home and away rounds in 2003 and made the finals for the first time. The elimination final against eighth placed Essendon at Patersons Stadium was then the club's biggest ever game, but ended in disappointment for the home team, with the finals experience of Essendon proving too strong for the young team. They then missed making the finals in the following two seasons, finishing both years with 11 wins, 11 loses and only 1 game outside the top 8.

After an average first half to the 2006 season, Fremantle finished the year with a club record 9 straight wins to earn themselves 3rd position at the end of the home and away season, a club record 15 wins in a year and a double chance for their September finals campaign. In the qualifying final against Adelaide at AAMI Stadium, the Dockers led for the first three quarters before being overrun by the Crows. The following week (15 September) saw the club win its first finals game in the semi-final against Melbourne at Patersons Stadium. The club subsequently earned a trip to Sydney to play in its first ever preliminary-final the following Friday night (22 September) at ANZ Stadium against the Sydney Swans, where they lost by 35 points.

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