Published by Sarah Olle, 20 August 2018 on foxsports.com.au
WHEN Ross Lyon picks a fight with a reporter it’s a safe bet Fremantle has just been on the losing side of a match.
But Saturday’s 133-point loss to Geelong — in which the Cats kicked 23 unanswered goals — was no ordinary defeat.
And certainly not one justifiable when the likes of Nat Fyfe, Lachie Neale, Brad Hill and David Mundy were out on the park.
Not only was Fremantle’s score (3.7.25) the lowest ever produced by a Lyon-coached side, but the biggest losing margin in the club’s history.
It led Coleman Medal winner Scott Cummings to not only condemn the capitulation, but question the leadership at the Dockers.
“That was the worst performance and result in the club’s history,” Cummings told Footy WA.
“If they don’t do something this year, their club is a laughing stock.
“It’s time for the Fremantle hierarchy to put their pills on the line and say we need to stand for more than this.”
While Lyon conceded his team was “obliterated” after quarter-time, he was quick to pull a reporter into line when the success of his side’s rebuild was questioned.
Lyon pointed to a number of youngsters who were tiring late in the season — such as Adam Cerra — who would only benefit from another pre-season.
“To look at one game in isolation is silly,” Lyon said.
“It’s never as good [as it seems], never as bad.
“I think critique the performance, but I think it’s a little bit unfair to (question the rebuild) on the back of playing one AFL game.
“The AFL understands how long it takes. We know it doesn’t take three years. If you ask head office, they know it takes five to six years.
“We also understand teams have taken 10 years and failed.”
But it wasn’t just Fremantle’s on-field performance that earned the club detractors on the weekend.
Veteran forward Hayden Ballantyne and injury-prone forward Harley Bennell were both offered contract extensions, moves that puzzled AFL great Robert Walls.
“Ballantyne isn’t good enough to be playing league footy now,” Walls said on SEN.
“His best is well passed him and he hasn’t played well for years. I didn’t see the game yesterday, but I looked at the stats and he had four touches.
“Harley Bennell, correct me if I’m wrong, he’s been with the Dockers for two years and played two games in the seniors.
“He hasn’t played a game in the seniors this year and they gifted him two at the end of last season to sort of encourage him to get through a summer training program. You go back to his last few years at Gold Coast and he hardly played.”
“You’ve got a bloke who’s been on an AFL list for four years and barely played, hasn’t played at all this year and gets a contract extension.”
Three-time premiership player Terry Wallace was prepared to give the Dockers the benefit of the doubt when it came to Bennell.
But, like Walls, he was unsure how extending Ballantyne’s tenure at the club would be beneficial.
“The Ballantyne one baffles me, I just don’t understand why, where or how,” Wallace said.
“For where they’re at, to me, they’re not playing finals next year, I don’t care what they throw into the mix next year.
“I don’t see them playing finals next year. Why you’d keep Ballantyne is beyond me.”