After my post last week about my belovedly frustrating Fremantle Football Club, I resolved to do the most heretical thing in sport: change teams. I was tired of backing the perennial underdog, so decided it was time to back a winner. The colours didn’t change, or the players, the coaching staff; not even the administration – what changed was my story about them. From the time I began supporting them - which was the very day their addition to the competition was announced in 1994 - I have gone into almost every game with at least an underlying suspicion that they would throw the game away. And statistically, they haven’t disappointed me – losing more often than not.
But last week all that changed. My team is a winner now, through and through, and when it comes to the crunch I know they’re not the ones who will fold.
Things have been interesting since I changed teams.
To begin with, in an almost unprecedented move, the competition’s governing body controversially decided to award our team the win in the farcical encounter that inspired last week’s post. The determination with which the club pursued this result reflected the steely resolve I expected of my new team, and again they didn’t disappoint me.
And then last night I listened over the internet as we took on our arch rivals (who we’d beaten only five times in our previous 22 encounters) and unbeaten competition leaders in one of the most intense tussles I’ve ever witnessed in this game.
For those who don’t know, one goal is worth six points in this game, and you can also score single points. A typical winning score will be around at least 100 points.
Fremantle led by five points at quarter time, by two at half time and by three at three-quarter time. Even if they had made it this far, the team I used to support would buckle in the final term. But listening in, I knew that my team were winners and would do everything they could to prove it.
The last quarter was a dour affair. The opposition kicked a goal that put them four points in front, and if I had been supporting my old team I would have known then that it was all over. But that team doesn’t exist, and the team I support now fought back: first with one point, then another, and another (oh no, was this the team of old?). We were one point down. And then, with little time left, one of our players had a reasonable chance of scoring a goal. He was a member of my new team – the team that gets goals in these circumstances – not the old one, where a point to draw or no score at all would have been expected. I listened expectantly – with the expectation it would be a goal, nothing less. He kicked the ball. There was no question.