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The 'Thunder Connection'

See the highlights of Peel's maiden Grand Final win against Subiaco at Domain Stadium on Sunday. Highlights from Peel Thunder's historic Grand Final win.

The connection between Fremantle and Peel Thunder is well and truly fortified, according to Peel senior coach Cam Shepherd and several of his players.

Speaking after Sunday’s 23-point WAFL Grand Final victory over Subiaco at Domain Stadium, Shepherd noted the desire and professionalism of his playing group to achieve success.

He highlighted in particular the commitment of Peel’s Fremantle-listed players, whose AFL season ended with a win against the Western Bulldogs at Domain Stadium on August 28.

“Fremantle finished at the end of August and if there had not been the will or the want, then this would not have happened,” Shepherd said.

“The bond between the two groups is really strong and I thought that was indicative of how we played today.

“We’re really pleased with the young Peel players as well, and we’re excited to be developing them so we can taste more success next year.”

We bought in - Blakely

Ruckman Jon Griffin was also quick to acknowledge the bond shared between the two playing groups.

“There’s a lot of external noise about being two clubs and all that kind of stuff but we see it as one club, Peel and Fremantle,” Griffin said.

Peel defender Josh Bootsma noted how his Fremantle-listed teammates “truly represent Peel Thunder”.

Young Fremantle player Harley Balic, who battled through much of 2016 with a serious wrist injury, reflected on the week leading up to the Grand Final, when “the boys stuck together – the Peel boys and the Freo boys included”.

Balic said he and his teammates had been “really, really tight”, attending every training session and organising coffee and lunch dates.

And fellow first-year player Darcy Tucker was keen to state the teams’ “very strong bond”, highlighting the “united feeling” he gets when representing the Thunder.

In the 17 seasons prior to its alignment with Fremantle in 2014, Peel had finished higher than eighth position on just two occasions (sixth in 2001 and 2008). Nine of those seasons finished with the wooden spoon.

Peel made its first finals appearance last year in a knockout clash against West Coast’s alignment club, East Perth.

Persistence pays off for Hughes

And while the Thunder were beaten heavily, the club responded a year later with four straight finals wins – the first in Peel’s history coming against the Royals at Rushton Park – to secure a maiden premiership.

Shepherd said the win would help Peel go some way towards moving on from its challenging past.

“The club’s been feeling in the doldrums for 20 years,” he said.

“I think it’s great for the alignment and great for our footy club.”

Immediately following the Grand Final win, Griffin highlighted the loyalty of Peel’s fans.

“The footy club has been through some tough times but to have all this support and to have everyone here, it’s amazing,” Griffin said.

“Words can’t describe how I’m feeling right now – it’s unbelievable.”
 

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs