Freo feverish as fans await Grand Final

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It's taken nearly 20 years, but the Fremantle Dockers have made their first AFL Grand Final.

(Transcript from SBS World News Australia Radio)
 
The excitement has been building for days in the west as the port city of Fremantle is literally painted purple, and pubs, bars and stores get ready for what's certain to be a massive Saturday.
 
Ryan Emery reports on the build up to the big game against Hawthorn, and the lengths fans have taken to get to the MCG.
 
It's been a big week in the west.
 
Last Saturday and jubilant Dockers fans flocked to Fremantle after their team beat Sydney and made the Grand Final.
 
Come Tuesday and it was a rock star training session for the fans.
 
Former number one ticket holders Eskimo Joe performed for an estimated seven thousand fans who came to see their team at their last open training session.
 
Ghanian national Evelyn Domfeh and her friend Tonina Clark were there to watch the Dockers train.
 
The 19-year-olds missed university to attend.
 
"Well, we want to see history, and priorities right. I mean wo wouldn't want to be in Freo right now? Seriously. It's crazy. It's sort of disbelief that they're actually here. It's surreal, it's awesome, it's so exciting. Being bought up in Freo, the team, I don't know, all of Freo, it's like finally we're being recognised. It's just awesome. The best."
 
During last Saturday's game, there was a banner that drew some attention with many people left scratching their heads.
 
Irish national Fionnbarr Diamond was holding aloft the words "Freo Abu".
 
"People were saying to me: 'what is it? What does it mean?' and I just told them it means Freo to victory, Freo forever, go Freo. It's quite a generic word. In the Irish language we put it with any sports team. Say for example, I'm from Derry so we say 'Derry Abu', which means come one Derry. Up Derry. That's the story. I thought just something different. A bit of fun."

Earlier: Dockers fans dash to Melbourne ahead of AFL Grand Final

Fionnbarr Diamond bought finals tickets weeks before the Dockers even made the preliminary final.
 
He got on board a mini-bus with his son and eight other fans for the long journey from Perth to the MCG.
 
"I'm quietly optimistic about this one. They're not going to win by much, but I think it will be slightly more than a goal. Less than two goals, more than a goal. My lucky number's seven, so I'm going to go seven."
 
Flights from Perth to Melbourne sold out almost a day after the Dockers made the Grand Final.
 
The commercial airlines then put on more flights, which again sold out.
 
Some people reportedly flying from Perth to Singapore to Melbourne to get across.
 
Or taking matters into their own hands and chartering flights.
 
Diane Meakins chartered a flight for 100 Sirens - the female Dockers supporters.
 
"Strangely enough, I actually thought about it six weeks ago and put some feelers out to see if it was something we could achieve and I told the bloke I'd ring him back if we were in the preliminary finals. So the day after we beat Geelong, true to my word, I rang him up said let's talk turkey and what can we do. Culmination was that last Friday afternoon about 4:30 we were granted a plane."
 
The AFL Grand Final always attracts an international audience as well.
 
The majority, naturally, are in Britain where thousands of expats will be up very early to watch history unfold.
 
But in America, the Cincinnati Dockers, a team in the USA AFL, will be at a bar in Kentucky watching their namesakes take to the field as midnight approaches.
 
Kyle Strenski is their coach.
 
"A lot of teams in the US I would say don't have an affiliation, but I say we do. We're constantly communicating with Fremantle. We had some of the guys actually travelling abroad last year in the fall. We got together with some of the assistant coaches, just a great group of guys, and we're always trying to keep open the lines of communication with them. Anything we can do to grow the sport here and to get more Dockers fans, that's for sure."
 
In Fremantle, the port city has turned a distinctive shade of purple.
 
Shop windows decorated with white and purple ballons, book stores displaying purple books in their windows and massive banners across apartment blocks and pub terraces.
 
There's even a painted line of purple stretching down the middle of the main road known as the cappuccino strip because of the many cafes and restaurants on either side.
 
Last Saturday, excited fans took to that strip and stopped traffic with their numbers.
 
The question will be whether this Saturday there'll be repeated scenes of jubilation - or will it be a bittersweet affair with the Fremantle Dockers making it so far, and being so close, but denied a truly history making moment.

GRAND FINAL PARADE: SBS REPORTER GLEN OSBORNE REPORTS LIVE

Source World News Australia

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