Select grade below


Friday, July 22, 2022 - 12:31 PM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle makes their first appearance at the WACA Ground in 28 years on Saturday in what shapes as the biggest Fremantle Derby in years against the league-leading East Fremantle.

South Fremantle comes into Saturday's match up at the WACA Ground having won the past 13 derbies against East Fremantle including a thriller earlier this year, and there's plenty on the line in Round 14 of the 2022 WAFL season.

Saturday's game will be the first time that the Bulldogs have played at the WACA Ground since Round 5, 1994 when they lost to Claremont by 60 points. Their last win at the venue was Round 3, 1994 against Perth.

Overall, it will be the 115th time South Fremantle has played at the famous ground and they hold a 52-62 record. 

Incredibly it will be the third time only in history that a Fremantle Derby will be held at the WACA Ground and the first in 115 years. The only two previous derbies at the ground were the Grand Finals of 1916 and 1917 – both won by South Fremantle.

It's a game of great significance for both clubs too with South Fremantle in third position on the WAFL ladder with an 8-4 record on the back of the last two wins against fellow top five sides Claremont and Swan Districts.

East Fremantle returned to top spot on the ladder too last week with a 9-3 record on the back of their own three-game winning run against Peel Thunder, Subiaco and West Coast.

It's unlikely South Fremantle would be able to make up the percentage gap on Saturday but if the Bulldogs make it 14 straight derby wins they would join East Fremantle on nine wins for the season.

Meanwhile, if East Fremantle can win their first derby since Round 12, 2016 then the Sharks will remain on top of the ladder and be two games clear of the Bulldogs.

Not that South Fremantle needs any added motivation, but it will also be a significant milestone for Zac Strom who reaches 150 games to earn life membership. It's a career that has already seen him win a premiership, claim a WJ Hughes Medal and play for the WAFL State Team.


South Fremantle coach Todd Curley played 118 AFL matches and two of those were at the WACA Ground in 1998 and 2000 both against the West Coast Eagles. 

The clash in 1998 was a famous clash where Curley's Western Bulldogs kicked eight goals to nil in the first quarter before West Coast did the same in the second term and ended up winning by 13 points in a remarkable contest.

It was also a thriller in 2000 when West Coast beat the Bulldogs by six points.

Curley also played seven of his 148 WAFL games for West Perth at the WACA Ground for three wins and four losses, with the last of those a Round 7, 1993 loss to Subiaco.

Given his last AFL game at the WACA Ground was 22 years ago and his last WAFL match was 29 years ago, nothing too much springs to mind for Curley for reflection but he is looking forward to getting back there on Saturday.

"It's a long time ago, we played there a couple of times with the Bulldogs and I used to love playing at the WACA," Curley said.

"We're certainly looking forward to getting there this week. It's a great ground. It's a little bit shorter and the ball moves pretty quick from end to end with only about five metres between the 50m arc and centre square. It's a bit more round so you can get a bit lost if you go out wide but I think it's a ground that will suit us."

Meanwhile, Curley is looking forward to the derby match up as well with so much on the line between the two Fremantle rivals.

"The derby was pretty good last time around and it's a bit sort of month for us," Curley said.

"We're playing everyone around us and we think if we can chip away and pinch a few of these wins then hopefully we can keep moving up the ladder. That's the aim and we'll wind ourselves up for a big game. 

"It's been a really exciting and close comp this year and it's very open there's no doubt. You have to be at your best every week or you'll find yourself in the slog of your life. This week will be no different and that's good for footy."

Throw in the Zac Strom milestone too and Curley couldn’t be more proud of what the versatile big man has done to now earn life membership with the Bulldogs.

"It's a great achievement to play 150 games and become a life member to go with being a premiership player, he's a fairest and best and arguably could have been a Simpson Medallist as well," Curley said. 

"There's not many 6'3, 100 kilo players that can play half-forward, wing, key forward, key back and ruck. 

"He's been a blessing to have and he was another one who might not have had a great day last week, but his last quarter when he gave us a lift in the ruck was important. He was still going at the end and you always know what you are going to get from him, and that's everything he's got."