Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Stars Align for Flag Glory; Some Big Names Are Finally Getting Their Shot at a Premiership, Reports Terry Mallinder

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Stars Align for Flag Glory; Some Big Names Are Finally Getting Their Shot at a Premiership, Reports Terry Mallinder

Article excerpt

UNLESS you're a Hawthorn supporter - or just hate the colour purple - Fremantle is the clear sentimental favourite in today's AFL Grand Final. Partly due to one man, Matthew Pavlich.

The captain since 2007 is unquestionably the club's greatest ever player. He is a winner of six best-and-fairest and seven leading goalkicker awards, and, barring injury, next season will become the first Docker to play 300 games and kick 600 goals. He also has six All-Australian jumpers, and a mountain of admiration.

Rejecting numerous offers to either return to his home state of South Australia or shift further east to Victoria, Pavlich has stayed loyal to the club that selected him with the No.4 pick in the 1999 draft after all had overlooked him 12 months earlier - even if becoming a Docker for life meant a career built around individual honours - and little team success.

That, of course, may change today with Fremantle having made its first grand final in its 19th season and in with a fighting chance to win its first flag.

Successful today - in his 291st game - and only Hawthorn's Shane Crawford (305) and Sydney's Paul Williams (294) will have waited longer to have played in a premiership.

The 192cm 99kg powerhouse, who is one of those rare beasts that has flourished in almost every position, will be pivotal to the Dockers' chances as the spearhead in attack, alongside Chris Mayne, Hayden Ballantyne and Michael Walters.

Pavlich has only booted four goals in his past five games against the Hawks, but, built for the big stage, has kicked 21 goals on his last four visits to the a[approximately]G.

Of course, the man who will be matched up on him would also be feeling like he was a[approximately]due'.

Brian Lake, 31 like Pavlich, played 197 games for the Western Bulldogs, among them three losing preliminary finals in a row (2008-2010).

It appeared a match made in footy heaven when the 195cm full-back joined Hawthorn in last year's trade period - and taking a pay cut to do so - club and player seemingly needing each other for both to achieve the ultimate success. …

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