Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon has managed to upset the Fremantle Dockers in his desperate bid to hold together his politically inspired footy-only-in-the-north AFL deal.
As the Saints march out and the Hawks fly in, Premier appears to have been putting a very large ham fist into the Dockers.
Age writer Martin Flanagan’s Saturday column reported that …
“This week, Freo was seriously upset. Offended, in fact. A story appeared in the West Australian, which was re-run in The Age, saying that the Dockers were no longer welcome at Launceston’s Aurora Stadium, with Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon lobbying to exclude the team because of poor attendances.
Premier Lennon has a concept he calls “the new Tasmania”. I took particular notice of the concept of the new Tasmania when he enunciated it because he was also saying my brother wasn’t welcome in it.
The Dockers didn’t ask to have games scheduled in Tasmania (the first time they played there, they were nine hours in transit), says Flanagan.
… but once they were sent there, according to Chief executive Cameron Schwab, they sought to enter the spirit of it.
“Tassie’s a great footy state,” he said. They sent players on clinics, they sought to lend support when the miners were trapped underground at Beaconsfield, they formed a partnership with one of the top clubs in northern Tasmania, now called the Burnie Dockers.
Freo pointedly declined to publicly criticise the Launceston stadium after the fiasco this year when the final siren was not heard by one of the central umpires.
But that politeness has now given way to anger
“The Premier of the state has trashed our brand after we’ve done everything we can to embrace something that was always difficult to do.” His statements were echoed by the president of Burnie, Shane Walker, who said he was “ropeable”. “The Dockers have been sensational for football on the north-west coast.”
Flanagan alludes to the problem facing AFL in Tasmania … the politically motivated exclusive siting of AFL in the north; and crowds for Freo of around 14,000 when 18,000 are needed to break even.
And he concludes:
Presumably, Premier Lennon did not leak the story to the press so he cannot be blamed for speaking dismissively of Freo in public. But Freo is due some respect. It has got values. Meanwhile, I will follow with interest the place of footy in the new Tasmania.
Martin Flanagan, The Age, quoting Fremantle Dockers CEO Cameron Schwab
“The Premier of the state has trashed our brand after we’ve done everything we can to embrace something that was always difficult to do.”
His statements were echoed by the president of Burnie, Shane Walker, who said he was “ropeable”. “The Dockers have been sensational for football on the north-west coast.”