Brownlow Medal winner Nat Fyfe has been upstaged at Fremantle’s best and fairest awards by ruckman Aaron Sandilands, but redemption was the theme of the night for the Dockers.
While Fyfe was pipped for the Doig Medal on Saturday night – Sandilands making up for missing All Australian selection by winning the award for a second time – it was the drive for an elusive AFL premiership that remained the focus.
Fremantle lost the 2013 grand final to Hawthorn, lost to Port Adelaide in the 2014 semi-finals, then this year claimed their first minor premiership before losing the preliminary final to the Hawks.
Whether a push for a first flag includes captain Matthew Pavlich remains unclear, but a text message from Fyfe to coach Ross Lyon signalled where Fremantle’s focus lies.
“I was watching the grand final and I was a little bit flat, and on the waters, and a text came through from Nathan Fyfe,” Lyon said.
“I know he was sitting with a group of players because there were enough beers sitting in the ice that it was for more than just Nathan hopefully. It was just after half time and on a big whiteboard sitting on the bucket they had analysed the Hawthorn game style.
“They identified five aspects where we could improve and that blew me away.
Lyon said it was inspirational to see the playing group wasn’t wallowing or giving up.
“It tells me they are prepared to do the work and to take the emotional risk. I admire them for that.”
Pavlich remains no clearer on whether he will extend his career beyond the club record 335 games he’s currently played.
“I’m still unsure. It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks and I haven’t had time to understand what’s best for the football club, and for myself and my family,” Pavlich said.
“I just want to thank the club for affording me the time to think through this thoroughly and it hasn’t been a decision that will be made lightly.”
Meanwhile, Sandilands was humbled to claim the Doig Medal ahead of Fyfe, David Mundy and Stephen Hill.
“I didn’t expect to come up at here at all, so it’s a bit of a shock,” Sandilands said.
“I’m very fortunate that I’m part of the best midfield group in the comp.”