In a remarkable round highlighted by questionable umpiring decisions, critical player errors occurring at untimely moments and euthanized coaching careers, it seems to be an ideal time to take another glance at one of the most positive aspects of Round 19.
Matthew Pavlich, one of the greatest players to ever wear Fremantle’s purple and white, deserves to be highlighted for his 8-goal game from 24 disposals against the Eagles that almost single-handedly destroyed any hope West Coast had of winning the derby.
The 65-point belting by the Dockers, led by Pavlich in a best on ground performance, severely damaged the Eagles’ bid for a top four berth, and thus the all important double chance.
After a somewhat sluggish beginning to his season, the Dockers skipper has hit his straps and is in arguably the best form of an already highly decorated AFL career.
Since Round 10, Pavlich has booted 44 goals in his last nine matches (53 for the year), and has averaged 18.8 disposals per game, catapulting him to the lead in the race for the Coleman Medal, as well as placing Fremantle right on the edge of finals.
It is no coincidence that Pavlich’s best form has sparked the Dockers resurgence, of which they have won their last five games, after it seemed their season had slipped beyond the point of recall with the loss to Collingwood in Round 14.
His career to date has already reached such glittering highs, after being drafted at pick 4 in the 1999 National Draft via South Australian club Woodville-West Torrens.
Debuting for the Dockers in 2000, Pavlich quickly made a name for himself at senior AFL level. In 2002, he was rewarded with the clubs highest honour, The Doig Medal.
This was the first of his six best and fairest awards, and he was also named in the AFL All-Australian team in the same year at the tender age of 20, after just 61 games.
Since then, Pavlich has been honoured with a further five All-Australian selections, and appears almost certain to make it a seventh this season.
His durability and consistency also are a standout for the Fremantle skipper as he has finished in the top three in the Dockers’ best and fairest count for the last ten seasons, and is on course to win a seventh award. This in itself is a purely amazing achievement.
Since debuting in 2000, Pavlich has played 274 matches, averaging 21 games per season. The lowest number of games he has played in one season is an impressive 18, occuring in his debut year.
Named club captain in 2007, Pavlich now possesses the club record in games played and goals scored (544) and will only increase those numbers barring injury, as at the age of 30, he still seems to have many fruitful years ahead of him.
He also appears to suffer in the eyes of many, in comparison to similar type players such as Jonathon Brown, for he doesn’t hold the lustre of being a premiership player.
However, Matthew Pavlich has carried the Dockers on his ample shoulders for the last decade, and is the most important figure in Fremantle’s late season push for September action.
If Pavlich he can continue in his present form, it seems that Ross Lyon and the Dockers will be in the top eight at seasons end.
If he has any say in it, Matthew Pavlich may well get the opportunity to lead the Dockers on Grand Final day and thus fulfil a career long dream of becoming the Dockers’ first ever premiership captain.