Rising from 11th in 2021 to fifth, Fremantle’s 2022 season should be deemed as a success, despite being eliminated by Collingwood in the semi final over the weekend.
Boasting one of the younger sides in the competition (13th – 24 years of age), the sky was the limit but there wasn’t any inflated expectations for the year ahead.
Beginning the season with an absolute classic in Adelaide against the Crows, coach Justin Longmuir opened his account with a one-point victory.
Young defender Heath Chapman’s heroics were on show, keeping the ball in play with seconds remaining to prevent a draw.
Aside from round two when they hosted St Kilda at Optus Stadium (loss by 10 points), the Dockers were 7-1 after round eight, including big wins against Geelong at GMHBA Stadium and Carlton by 35 points.
Sitting a game behind Melbourne on the ladder, Longmuir and his side gave themselves the best chance to jump back into the finals for the first time since 2015.
However, shock losses to Gold Coast and Collingwood in the weeks following came as a surprise, with the club being beaten in the wet.
Starting to slip down the ladder, a scalp was needed for Fremantle and luckily they faced an undefeated Melbourne outfit at the MCG.
In a cold and dreary night at the home of football, the Dockers were outplayed in the first half, trailing by 30 points late in the second term.
What followed gave the club enormous belief that they could make a play at the premiership, piling on eight goals to one in the third quarter to open up a 17-point lead.
More pain was added to the Demons in the last term, slotting another four majors to a goalless Melbourne quarter and a 38-point victory, ending an impressive 17-game win streak.
Taking that confidence over downing the reigning premiers away from home, the Dockers managed to knock off Brisbane and Hawthorn in successive weeks before entering the mid-season bye.
Dual Brownlow Medalist Nat Fyfe returned from a string of injuries that’s kept him sidelined since round 19 2021 for the Hawks game, sparking the side and adding another dimension to their game.
Sitting equal first with the Lions and Demons, Fremantle started believing that top four was on the cards.
The Dockers had developed an extremely stingy and well-rounded defensive line-up which conceded only 831 points in the first 13 matches of 2022, sitting behind Melbourne (829) in what was a stark contrast to the year before.
Although, the next month saw a mixture of results, with the club winning two (Port Adelaide and Saints) while going down to the Blues and Sydney.
Nearing the end of the 2022 season, Fremantle needed to put wins on the board, as dates with Richmond, Melbourne, Bulldogs were to come.
Round 19 saw the one and only draw for the year, with the Tigers and Dockers unable to be split when the final siren rang.
To add more salt to the wound, Fyfe reaggrevated his hamstring, ruling him out for another month of football and putting him in doubt for the rest of the season.
The Demons got their revenge the following week, defeating Longmuir’s men by 46 points in a poor display by the Purple Haze.
With three matches to go, Fremantle needed just one win to lock away a spot in the finals.
Travelling to Marvel Stadium to take on the Dogs jumped out of the gates and never looked like turning back.
Sitting two points outside third position, tasks against West Coast and GWS seemed easy beats as top four was back on the cards.
Winning by 24 points (Eagles) and 20 points (Giants) was just not enough, with the Pies beating Carlton in round 23 by one point to secure the double chance.
The Dockers finished in fifth position, unlucky to miss out on the top four but looking to face the Bulldogs in the first elimination final.
Entering as hot raging favourites, Fremantle were jumped and trailed by 41 points in the second quarter, with the thought of an early finals exit a real possibility.
Kicking 11 goals to three after quarter-time set up one of the comebacks of the season and in a final no less as the Dockers stormed home to win by 13 points and set up a semi final against Collingwood.
Facing 90,000 screaming fans at the MCG was just too much for Longmuir’s side, who couldn’t match it with the superior Pies outfit.
Although ultimately falling short of premiership glory, 2022 was a successful season for Fremantle, joining in on the finals race for the first time since 2016.
Being the youngest side in September, Longmuir and his coaching staff have plenty to work with over the coming years and are in good stead to push for top four in 2023.
The vast improvement from Andrew Brayshaw and Caleb Serong has Fremantle fans excited, with the pair set to be the next leaders of the club.
Brayshaw’s development was rewarded with his maiden All-Australian jacket as well as the Leigh Matthews Trophy (AFLPA MVP).
The brother of Melbourne’s, Angus, is also one of the favourites for the 2022 Brownlow Medal, with the Docker reaching new heights this season, averaging 29 touches, six tackles and four clearances per game.
Serong’s furtherance has come shortly after he won the 2020 Rising Star, complementing Brayshaw in the midfield.
The 21-year-old gathered 27 possessions, six clearances and four tackles on average in 2022.
What’s more pleasing to Docker supporters is the fact both players stepped up in the finals.
Against the Bulldogs, the pair combined for two goals and 65 disposals and ultimately dragging their side to victory.
Despite losing to the Pies in the semi final, the duo put together another impressive performance.
Twenty-year-old Luke Jackson’s imminent arrival has Fremantle shaping up to be a formidable force in the future, especially when you think of Brayshaw and Serong’s undoubtedly improvement.
Jackson comes across as the 2021 Rising Star who was a key factor in assisting Melbourne to its first premiership in 57 years.
The West Australian proved to be a point of difference across significant moments in last year’s finals series, including taking pole ruck position over skipper Max Gawn to deliver big stages.
With Will Brodie proving to be a diamond in the rough, the Docker midfield looks to be set for the next five years.
Fremantle games record holder David Mundy has retired after the loss to Collingwood in the semi final, forging a 376-match career and putting him with some of the greats of the club.
Included in the 2015 All-Australian side, Mundy went about his business with humility and grace and in a way played his football in the same style.
In 2010, he was awarded with the Doig Medal (Fremantle BnF) and led the club in 2016 as captain.
376 games. David Mundy bows out a Fremantle legend ⚓️ pic.twitter.com/Taa8h6iktA
— Triple M Footy (@triplemfooty) September 10, 2022
According to some reports, there is up to six Dockers who are bound to play for rival clubs in 2023, with Rory Lobb leading the charge.
Lobb is joined by Griffin Logue, Lloyd Meek, Liam Henry, Darcy Tucker and Blake Acres, who are all believed to want away from Fremantle.
In what looks like the beginning of a strong outfit for years to come, it would be disastrous if the Dockers managed to lose some of those players, putting the club on the back foot.
What do Fremantle need?
It is no surprise that the Dockers need to revamp their forward line going into 2023 and beyond, especially given that Rory Lobb and Griffin Logue are likely to depart.
Matt Taberner is serviceable but hasn’t kicked more than 37 goals in a season (2021) and needs assistance up forward.
The club were ranked 12th in Points For (1739) are rely too heavily on their defensive work to win games rather than putting scores on the board.
Luke Jackson could assist in this manner to provide another option up forward, but perhaps targeting a rival player or trusting Jye Amiss to develop into a key position target for the near future.
Players linked to the club
Luke Jackson has been heavily linked to the club, given he’d like to return to Western Australia.
The Dockers seem more appealing than their rivals West Coast, who came 17th in 2022 and are looking to rebuild their list from scratch.
Jackson hasn’t officially nominated Fremantle but reports have suggested that is the way he’s leaning.
Other players are Gold Coast duo Josh Corbett and Jeremy Sharp, according to journalist Tom Browne.
Fremantle’s trade period is intriguing
Despite this mini exodus to make way for Luke Jackson, they are chasing two Suns too.
Jeremy Sharp and Josh Corbett.
I expect Jackson will formally notify Melbourne today
— Tom Browne (@TomBrowne7) September 12, 2022
|Bailey Banfield||Unrestricted Free Agent|
|Connor Blakely||Unrestricted Free Agent|
|Mitch Crowden||Unrestricted Free Agent|
Retirees and Delistings
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