Saturday, April 15, 2006

Off and on

There's been much speculation in Western Australia over whether the Dockers should be as involved as they are in community work.

Some say it's good the team gives generously to the commmunity. Others say selflessness has long detracted from the side's onfield performance.

I'm in the first camp. If you look across the football fence to rugby, community work has never hurt the ACT Brumbies. I think this, and engaging THE WHOLE community (rather than pricing all but an elite pocket out of its games), is a lesson the Western Force could learn from its counterparts in the national capital.

To illustrate. Jeff Farmer. The Wiz. Every footy fan knows he has anger management issues. But last week I was visiting a family which has a disabled son. They're mad Dockers fans and the father told me whenever he and the lad are down at Fremantle Oval watching training, the Wiz is always the first player to bolt across afterwards to say g'day.

This dad and his son both struck me as intelligent people - certainly not the type who'd be hoodwinked by superficial glam. The dad acknowledged the Wiz can at times be a dill off the field but, as far as his family is concerned, Jeff Farmer is a champ.

Perhaps gestures like the Wiz's, repeated over the years by the club as a whole, is why the Dockers now have the second highest number of members in the Australian Football League - despite mediocre playing performances for most of the club's still short history.

When a premiership flag does finally come Fremantle's way, it will be all the more sweet - because it will be delivered by a club that gives a damn.

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