Fremantle has spent time helping their indigenous teams to contribute to the Black Lives Matter campaign and the strong resistance of the AFL to institutional racism.
The Dockers took a knee Saturday afternoon alongside the Brisbane Lions before their first match since March.Led by Indigenous players from Richmond before the season restart game on Thursday night, June 11, and assisted by the AFL, both clubs will participate in this weekend's initiative.
Collingwood and Richmond players and umpires take a knee in solidarity in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Powerful. pic.twitter.com/ikTsJ7vqku — 7AFL (@7AFL) June 11, 2020
Simon Garlick, chief executive of Fremantle Dockers, has revealed why the club moved quickly after a dissatisfied member threatened to revoke their membership if players knelt this weekend for the Black Lives Matter movement. The Tigers and Collingwood continued by taking a knee in the middle of the MCG to open the game's second round.
At the same time, Geelong and Hawthorn followed suit on Friday night (June 12) at Kardinia Park. Fremantle did so on Saturday (June 13) at the Gabba. Still, their presence irritated one participant, who asked for a refund in the lead-up. Garlick said Twitter user view Miles Obst, whose post was deleted, was not fit with the club's principles.
The club member said last night that if "our guys" took a knee on Saturday, he would cancel his two $900 memberships. The following day, Fremantle replied to the post and vowing to contact the member to arrange the cancellation. Half an hour later, the Twitter user replied. "Thank you for the call and for your understanding," he said.
Thanks for the phone call and your understanding. — Miles Obst (@MilesObst) June 12, 2020
The situation was weighed in by Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir, saying he was shocked that a member would make such a statement.
He said the Dockers made the correct decision to take back the membership. Longmuir has played with some of the club's greatest Indigenous players and coaching a squad packed with Aboriginal stars. Fremantle also has at least one Indigenous player as an AFL team for all but one game in their 26-year history.
"I fully support what the club did. As a past player and a coach of this football club, we have [a strong] history with Indigenous players and staff at our football club. I fully support the stance that the club took."
Twitter netizens stunned by response
A host of broadcasters and fans were swift to throw their support behind the response from the club.
"Total respect," long-time cricket scribe Peter Lalor tweeted.
Perth-born broadcaster Neroli Meadows joined the conversation and thanked the team for its response.
Some fans have even pledged money to compensate for the $1,800 lost due to the cancelation of membership.
AFLW coach Trent Cooper responded to another fan, promising to buy a membership in a show of their support for the Dockers taking a stand.
FYI bro pic.twitter.com/eRjRtqEiQF — Lucas Hainsworth (@HainsworthLucas) June 12, 2020
Garlick said he was very hopeful that the two WA-based clubs could be back in Perth to play a derby game as soon as possible.
He said that being out east this week had shown him how much enthusiasm there was to start opening up society across the country again.