A WESTERN Derby grand final will remain a sporting dream for WA football fans after just one of the local sides was able to qualify for the AFL’s showpiece at the MCG on Saturday.
At the start of the season there was just a 0.65 per cent chance of the Dockers and Eagles playing off in a grand final, according to Murdoch University statistics lecturer Doug Fletcher.
That was assuming each team went into round one on an even playing field and did not factor in West Coast’s injuries or Fremantle’s aging list, which many pundits believed would be a sticking point for success.
Fast forward six months and only West Coast was able to hold up its end of the bargain after it overcame a slow start to beat North Melbourne by 25 points on Saturday.Sharrod Wellingham played a crucial role in the 10.20 (80) to 7.13 (55) win with 27 disposals, four inside 50s and one goal, helping West Coast secure a shot at a fourth premiership and its first since 2006.
Cross-town rivals Fremantle will not be there after being bundled out 10.7 (67) to 15.4 (94) a night earlier by Hawthorn, the same team that beat them on grand final day in 2013.
The Dockers had started brightly but were playing catch-up after Hawthorn strung together six straight goals in the first half.
The home side was mounting a comeback late in the match, but skill errors came back to haunt as the more clinical Hawks put them to the sword.
The loss meant the City of Fremantle has scrapped plans to host a family-friendly street festival on grand final day, as it did in 2013.
On that day more than 40,000 people packed into the heart of Fremantle, with fans putting an estimated $1.5 million into local businesses.
Fremantle Chamber of Commerce president Ra Stewart said a grand final win for the Dockers could set the City up for 12 months, similar in style but smaller in scale to what the America’s Cup did for the city in the 1980s.
But all that will have to wait another year, with the state’s eyes firmly fixed on West Coast and Hawthorn this Saturday.