Matthew Pavlich: underappreciated in the East but he’s one of the greatest we’ve seen

Matthew Pavlich is without question Fremantle's greatest ever player.
Matthew Pavlich is without question Fremantle's greatest ever player.

FOOTY can be harsh, it can be unfair but most of all it can be brilliant.

When Matthew Pavlich runs out for game number 350 this Sunday, some people won’t bat an eye.

Maybe it’s because 38-year-old Brent Harvey will break Michael Tuck’s record of 427 games in the same round, maybe it’s because they are a one-eyed West Coast supporter who prides themself on never saying a positive word about the Dockers or maybe they just couldn’t give a damn about football.

But you would be flat out lying if you denied that Pav was special.

First he was an All Australian full-back in just the third year of his career, the year after he was named on the forward flank.

Four more All Australian appearances followed as well as six Doig medals.

If Chris Connolly, Mark Harvey or Ross Lyon could have cloned him, I’m sure they would have done so – 18 times.

At the height of his career he was a dangerous forward who could boss the midfield but also shut players down in front of goal. But it’s in front of the sticks where Pav came to life.

The image of him flexing the arm and roaring after a goal will be deeply etched into the mind of every Fremantle fan until the end of their days.

You could always see the pride he took in wearing the purple jumper, even though as many like to point out, there isn’t a whole lot trophy-wise to be proud of.

In 2007, Pavlich took another step closer to becoming a Fremantle legend when he rebuffed clubs in his home state of South Australia to remain in WA with the struggling Dockers.

His undying loyalty to the club will see Pav remembered by most as one of the greatest players to never win a premiership.

He went close in 2013 but the Hawks were just too good.

2014 and 2015 held promise, but again no dice.

Rumours began to swirl and the armchair coaches, commentators and list managers all had their say.

“He’s done… over the hill… He has nothing to offer.”

Come 2016 he decided to have one more crack.

Unfortunately, the Dockers couldn’t make the fairytale come to life.

Confirmation – football is harsh and unfair.

But let’s not forget the brilliance.

From bags of goals to soaring marks and crunching tackles – there has been a lot to like in Pavlich’s 349 games.

So if there is one thing we should feel this weekend, it’s not pity or sorrow – it is pride: pride in a man that stood his ground and said he loves this club and would not leave without giving every last gram of himself.

Premiership or not – he will always be a champion.