Time for Fremantle’s cobblers to be held to account

Ross Lyon. Photo: Getty
Ross Lyon. Photo: Getty

“I’LL let the cobblers do the cobbling.”

We’ve heard Freo coach Ross Lyon say it often enough, when he’s talking about their list management team, spearheaded for so long by Brad Lloyd.

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Lloyd oversaw the Dockers’ recruitment for a decade and, under advice from former recruiter Phil Smart, helped bring Nat Fyfe, Stephen Hill and Michael Walters (with pick 53 if you don’t mind!) to the club.

Anthony Morabito might have been better than all of them had he not wrecked his knee in a pre-season training mishap.

Anthony Morabito. Photo: Getty

In recent years the club has tried to lure top-quality WA talent back to the state.

In 2015 they made a play for the brilliant-but-troubled Harley Bennell from Gold Coast.

At the end of 2016, they snared Joel Hamling, Brad Hill, Cam McCarthy and Shane Kersten, in 2017 it was Nathan Wilson and Brandon Matera.

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Last year came Jesse Hogan, Rory Lobb, Reece Conca and Travis Colyer.

Hamling’s been great, Brad Hill a star and Lobb looks to be following in their footsteps, while Wilson’s hardly missed a game.

Joel Hamling and Darcy Moore battle. Photo: Getty

Matera gets a pass mark and Conca’s putting together a good first season in purple, but that’s where the good news ends.

Colyer hasn’t set the world on fire. No one really expected him to.

Bennell couldn’t get on the park, and Kersten might be following him out the door, plagued by a foot injury.

McCarthy’s just been re-signed on a one-year deal, but looks chronically short on confidence right now.

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Hogan’s foot, which was a big question mark before the Dockers’ landed him, is now a massive story.

The navicular, “one of the key bones to the mobility and stability of the midfoot”, which is almost always preceded by that abject adjective dreaded, could threaten his career.

In Morabito and Bennell, Fremantle lays claim to two of the most talented-but-tragically unlucky football players of this generation.

It would be incredibly sad – for footy, for Freo and for himself – were Hogan to follow them down that road.

And given the pressure on Ross Lyon, shouldn’t his cobblers be held to account a little more?

Jesse Hogan. Photo: Getty

It’s ironic Lyon’s preferred metaphor for list management is also the name given to a shoe repairer – given the foot trouble at both West Coast and Fremantle this year, both clubs could do worse than put an actual cobbler on staff.

Recycled players are always a gamble, and across at West Coast the strike rate isn’t much better than Freo’s – in fact, it may be worse.

The successes of Elliott Yeo, Lewis Jetta and Jack Redden is contrasted with the question marks over Brendon Ah Chee, Nathan Vardy, and the still-in-progress Tom Hickey.

But a premiership cuts you an awful lot of slack.

The sort of slack that’s in desperately short supply down in the port.