Chamber chief recalls humble Docker origins

Rockingham Kwinana Chamber of Commerce chief executive Tony Solin.
Rockingham Kwinana Chamber of Commerce chief executive Tony Solin.

It contrasts markedly to the club’s fledgling years when it was derided with unwanted monikers due to ineptitude on-and-off the field.

Rockingham Kwinana Chamber of Commerce chief executive Tony Solin vividly remembers when Fremantle was an AFL basket case.

Mr Solin, a triple premiership player with Swan Districts in the 1980s, was lured to the Dockers shortly after inauguration in 1994, where he started as the team’s skills coach.

‘We did not have very flash facilities at the time and did a lot of our pre-season training at Aquinas College, but it was fun to be part of a new team,’ he said.

During his six years at Fremantle, Mr Solin was also the team’s welfare manager and runner.

‘I enjoyed being a welfare manager and dealing with the young players and their families,’ he said.

‘To be the first welfare manager of an AFL club is something I am proud of.

‘Being a runner was interesting, especially when you are on the end of an angry coach but it was good to be part of the game.’

While his association with Fremantle has diminished since he left the club in 2000, Mr Solin has an affinity with a key Dockers player.

‘I had a lot to do with Matthew Pavlich when he was first drafted,’ he said.

‘I remember when he had to go to hospital after his first training session because he basically pushed himself to exhaustion.

‘He’s had a great career and is a player who deserves to win a premiership. Winning will be tough as there are some really good teams but I think Freo are a chance to go the distance.’