Fremantle Dockers injury run: is the club cursed?

Michael Barlow against Port Adelaide earlier in the season.
       Picture: Paul Kane
Michael Barlow against Port Adelaide earlier in the season.        Picture: Paul Kane

ARE the Dockers cursed?

Sports curses are nothing new.

From the “Curse of the Bambino” held over the Boston Red Sox for decades to the Socceroos hiring a witch doctor to help them qualify for the 1970 World Cup.

Plenty speculate they are more commonly at play than we think.

For Fremantle, after two decades without a premiership, it is a question I ask myself with an increasing level of seriousness.

Remember when people used to talk about the anchor on Fremantle’s jerseys weighing them down?

I laughed it off before my eyes darted towards the pavement to offer the notion some serious consideration.

An emblem-inducing curse? Surely not I’d tell myself.

In 2011, the Dockers ditched the anchor and I knew, thankfully, it was a question I would never have to answer again.

In 2013, a premiership went begging; inaccuracy a big ingredient in a grand final loss that still tastes as sour as it did after the final siren.

The Dockers finished 8.14 (62) to Hawthorn’s 11.11 (77) that day.

The port city club was 1.6 at half time.

During the home and away season, the Dockers finished with a positive goal to behind ratio 17 times.

So was a scoring curse in play that day?

Fremantle’s form in front of goal had dipped during the finals, with the Dockers scoring more behinds than goals in all three finals appearances.

I will put their poor showing on the AFL’s biggest stage down to the added intensity on grand final day and an unbelievable team at the other end in Hawthorn, although there were some bad misses.

In 2015, Nat Fyfe stamped himself as the best player in the league by winning a Brownlow Medal.

Fremantle, while not flying by the end of the regular season, secured top spot and another preliminary final.

They were on top of the (AFL) world and another grand final appearance beckoned.

But all that would eventually be undone by Hawthorn, who trounced the Dockers by 27 points.

And Fyfe? Well he had to play out the game on a fractured leg.

A curse?

I will give it some thought while also acknowledging Hawthorn, again, were an incredible side.

This season promised to be another fruitful one for the Dockers after they recruited Harley Bennell from Gold Coast.

The midfielder was set to bolster a strong group of onballers while adding some much-needed firepower up forward.

Things would eventually fail to pan out positively for the 23-year-old after he was ruled out for the year with calf complaints.

An injury curse?

Well, not in isolation and not when you consider calf injuries are something Bennell experienced at his former club.

But Michael Barlow’s fractured finger might have some believing.

Barlow has been back to his best over the last month, but a broken digit will keep him out for just as long.

With him out of action, Fremantle has 19 troops unavailable for playing duty, and their understudies at Peel are dropping like flies.

Clancee Pearce would have come in for consideration to replace Barlow, but he too was injured playing for the Thunder.

So are the Dockers cursed?

I cannot say for sure.

What is certain is the Dockers could use a little divine intervention to balance out what has been an unfortunate year on the injury front.