There’s something fresh and vibrant about the start of an AFL season.
Your team should have no season ending injuries, nor should it have copped any on-field hidings. Well, maybe one or two.
The excitement surrounding new trade week recruits is palpable as is the anticipation surrounding the bright young stars selected in the draft.
Pre-season media coverage is growing each year.
Never has so much been written about so little.
If you are a Fremantle fan, what can you tell me about Michael Barlow, Alex Silvagni and Matthew De Boer?
If you support West Coast, what information have you got on Gerrick Wheedon and Koby Stevens?
I would suggest if you know something about these players, then you probably know too much.
However, such is the blanket coverage of AFL in Western Australia much has been written about these young men.
Aussie rules draws nearly as much ink as Chris Masten.
The bottom line is that West Australians crave their pre-season information.
They want to know how their team is going to fare.
Both teams are coming into this year’s competition starved of finals appearances, and if fans are expecting another lean season they at least want to see their team climb the AFL ladder.
Dockers’ fans are a somewhat maligned bunch in WA.
The ‘purists’ up the road look down on them as a raggedly group who just do not understand football the way the chardonnay sipping blue and gold set do.
Not only is this view unfair, it fails to acknowledge the incredibly passionate loyalty of Fremantle fans.
35,000 people are card carrying members of the port side, despite the fact they have no Premiership flag or even a recent finals appearance.
In fact it is coming off successive finishes of 14th and 13th, so it has been going backwards, not forwards.
However, coach Mark Harvey insists those statistics are not the sole barometer of development.
To an extent, he is on the money.
The club has nurtured bright young prospects like Stephen Hill, Garrick Ibbotson, Nick Suban and Hayden Ballantyne.
In 2010 Fremantle will welcome back youngsters Chris Mayne and Rhys Palmer from extended injury lay-offs.
However despite the hype and promise, this season’s spotlight will be firmly fixed on the coach himself.
Harvey is entering the final year of his contract with Fremantle with just 10 wins from 49 starts under his belt.
If recent reports are to be believed he will need 10 wins in 2010 if he is to continue at the helm.
Matthew Pavlich is the club’s other great conundrum.
He is also out of contract at the end of the year, but the Dockers intentions with their champion are clearer than they are with the coach.
Do not be surprised if we see more back pages on Pavlich than front pages on Tony Abbott in an election year.
As usual, West Coast supporters are far more confident about their season.
Season 2008 was tough, four wins and some humiliating losses as the club came to terms with life post Judd and Cousins.
Season 2009 was better with twice as many wins.
The attitude for 2010 is that the hard work has been done and the Eagles should challenge for a place in finals.
The club has nurtured some strong young players in Chris Masten, Scott Selwood and Brad Ebert.
It will be hoping Mitch Brown can go up a level in defence and Mark Le Cras and Josh Kennedy can lift in attack.
There are questions about the fitness of Dean Cox and Daniel Kerr who return from injury alongside the man named after a housing estate, Beau Waters.
However if these four and Darren Glass stay healthy, they could scrape into the eight, but I do not think they will finish much higher than that.
However, the pre-season hype about the club’s fortunes pales against those surrounding one player..
The club is wary of the hysteria surrounding young star Nic Naitanui and has been begging the faithful for patience.
There is no doubt the kid is exciting and fans want more of the glimpses of brilliance we saw in last year’s competition and this year’s pre-season cup.
One sleep to go before Bouncedown. Enjoy.