5 years of Fremantle trades that have stifled their progress

AFL Rd 3 - Fremantle v Western Bulldogs
Lachie Neale in Dockers colours before leaving for Brisbane and two Brownlows

The Fremantle Dockers are in their 30th AFL season and still haven't tasted premiership success despite having played in the 2014 Grand Final and winning the 2015 Minor Premiership.

While St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs have been the least successful across the VFL/AFL era, Fremantle has been persistently mediocre. Perhaps the biggest knock on the Dockers has been their draft and trade record, which, with the benefit of hindsight, doesn't look pretty.

There was the infamous pick 1 trade for Trent Croad, which gave Hawthorn the opportunity to draft Luke Hodge, while the Dockers also got Luke McPharlin. Croad would ask to go home a few years later. He subsequently won the AFL Grand Final in 2008.

In 1994, they traded away Andrew McLeod without playing a game and he went on to play 300+ games for the Crows.

In recent years, it has been the player exodus away from Fremantle that has affected their list's ability to mature, with developed talent leaving and mostly draft picks coming in.

#5 Lachie Schultz asks to return to Victoria

During the 2023 Trade period, wantaways Lachie Schultz and Liam Henry were sent to Victoria. Schultz went to Premiers Collingwood for pick 34 and a future first, the latter of which will likely be fairly late in this year's first round. WA local Henry, a Dockers NGA graduate, cited a love for the fashion industry for his desire to be traded to St Kilda, who Fremantle traded for a second round pick in this year's draft.

#4 The Luke Jackson trade

In 2022, the Dockers traded Blake Acres, Griffin Logue, Rory Lobb and Lloyd Meek back to Victoria in an effort to bring Luke Jackson home. Losing the tall timber wasn't a concern, as Freo had a surfeit of height, yet their overall average age went down significantly as veteran David Mundy retired and the oldest player brought in was Jaeger O'Meara.

#3 Adam Cerra goes home after four years

In 2021, Fremantle had to trade former pick 5 Adam Cerra to the Carlton Blues for pick 6 and a third rounder, which worked out fine in the sense they were able to use that pick to select Jye Amiss. However, the retirement of Stephen Hill meant a huge chunk of experience was lost, although replacements Will Brodie and Jordan Clark were useful in easing the transition.

#2 Dockers cut bait with Jesse Hogan

The 2020 Draft was largely a success for the Dockers with several picks turning into top contributors. In stark contrast, Freo list management flushed no fewer than seven players delisted and they traded away their 2018 star recruit Jesse Hogan for next to nothing, with GWS handing over pick 54 for the misfiring star after the Dockers paid picks 6 and 23 for his services in 2018.

#1 The end of the Ross Lyon Era

After four consecutive seasons without leading Fremantle into the AFL finals series, Lyon was dismissed as senior coach of the club in 2019. Even as the Dockers had one of their best draft hauls ever and their trade period was evenly balanced, the club said goodbye to retiring heroes Aaron Sandilands and Hayden Ballantyne while trading away Brad Hill to the Saints and Ed Langdon to the Melbourne Demons.

Added to trading Lachie Neale in 2018 and Lachie Weller in 2017, this was the turning point of Fremantle's age profile and the end of Ross the Boss.

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