Fremantle have instilled a culture capable of taking back control of the western derby rivalry and extending the Dockers’ winning streak according to defender Hayden Young.
When the Victorian arrived at the Dockers in late 2019, West Coast were nine wins into an unbeaten 11-game derby streak, including their second-biggest win over Fremantle (91 points) a few months before Young’s draft.
But Fremantle finally ended their derby drought in round 22 last year, prevailing by 15 points and dumping the Eagles out of the top eight in the process.
The Dockers got another win over the Eagles in round three this season and have won 12 games since to secure their first finals berth since 2015.
But it’s the club’s culture that’s given Young belief the Dockers can attempt to match West Coast’s record derby streak, starting with their desire for victory in Saturday night’s 55th encounter.
“I think we’re capable but I haven’t thought that far ahead yet,” Young said.
“It’s been promising the last few times we’ve played them we’ve been able to do that (win). The challenge now is to continue to do that.
“Our job is to get the win this weekend and go from there.
“I feel like we’ve built a culture that should allow us to remain successful if we keep driving each other and driving a winning culture. Hopefully, if we can stick to that, it allows us to keep winning games.”
Young, 21, said it didn’t take long for him to recognise the significance of the cross-town rivalry.
“My first impression (of the rivalry) was that West Coast had dominated for the past few years,” he said.
“You could tell that hurt a lot of the players and past players and we were eager to get back on top. It’s a great game for the club.
“It means a lot to our fans and players. Although I’m not from WA, it’s an honour to play in such an important game for the state.”
Young was one of five Dockers named in the AFLPA’s 22Under22 squad this week, joining Andrew Brayshaw, Jordan Clark, Michael Frederick and Caleb Serong in the group of 40.
While declaring backline buddy Heath Chapman “stiff” to miss, Young said the talented quintet and the Dockers’ other emerging stars wanted to take ownership of Fremantle’s trajectory.
“It goes to show we’ve got a young, exciting group of players and hopefully we can keep building on that young group.
“Hopefully we’re taking the club towards a premiership because that’s what it feels like. We feel like we’re driving the energy and that’s led by some great senior players.
“One thing a lot of our players see in each other is that we’re all hungry and want success. That drives us. We’re competitive.
“Since I’ve got to the club, as a collective we’ve been challenging each other and working really hard to get that success.”
Young also said Fremantle had “lost their way” in the past month with losses to Sydney and Melbourne but are back on track after defeating the Western Bulldogs.
“We got a little bit comfortable there with the expectation of finals around the corner.
“We had a strong focus last week and in the remaining weeks of the year to realign with what put us in this position in the first place.
“That’s our game plan, playing to win and playing with a lot of freedom and energy.”