Fremantle president Dale Alcock sat down with Braden Quartermain of The Sunday Times for a Q&A ahead of the 2017 AFL season.
BQ: Why did you want to join the board and now become president?
DA: It was an opportunity to contribute to the club. I’ve been a supporter of Fremantle since they started. I suppose it fits with my philosophy of giving back. We’re fairly active as a group of companies and individually around philanthropy and I just see that the contribution to a sporting club like Fremantle is part of community.
BQ: Who did you barrack for before the Dockers came into the comp?
DA: I do have to confess that I was a West Coast supporter initially. We were living relatively close to Fremantle, but (it was) also the fact that here was a new team striving to succeed. There was something quite appealing about that. So we jumped on board.
BQ: What sort of fan are you during games these days?
DA: My wife sort of elbows me on occasion and just tells me to tone it down a little bit. Probably now that you’re the president of the club, you have to maybe think that there’s more eyes watching you potentially at a game. But I think football’s a passionate game and it leads to passionate support. If it’s a close game, then it doesn’t hurt to show it either.
BQ: Over the 22 years who has been your favourite Fremantle player?
DA: It’s always hard to look past the Pav really isn’t it. I think Pav for what he’s achieved and I think also being a one-club player.
BQ: Can you tell me a bit about your personal background?
DA: I grew up in Kellerberrin, so central wheatbelt. My father and grandfather were builders up there so I was following in the family footsteps. I’m a bricklayer by trade. I did my apprenticeship within the family business. I do have to confess to playing very little football. Junior football is the extent of my football engagement. I was playing hockey up there, swimming, running — more individual sporting pursuits. I’m not Fremantle’s president for my footy prowess, that’s for sure.
BQ: So it’s fair to say you always had bigger dreams than becoming the biggest builder in Kellerberrin?
DA: Yeah. Like every story of success it’s that opportunity, the door opens. So that was an opportunity to move to Perth. I became a registered builder and started Dale Alcock Holmes when I was 25.
BQ: What business skills in particular do you think you bring to the president’s role?
DA: I’m one for ensuring that the small details, the little things, are done really well that lead to ultimate success. If we get the foundations of a very strong culture, very good people, good management and make sure all of that is solid and we’re then putting in maximum effort ongoing, then success will come. Whether that’s financial success within business … or financial success of a football club or the on-field success. Those things to my mind are very similar outcomes if the foundation is laid correctly.
BQ: What do you make of the club’s off-field position at the moment?
DA: Very solid, very strong. Clearly there’s opportunities with the new stadium opening and so forth, but there’s equally challenges within the economy at the same time. So we’ve got to be up to taking those challenges on and being good enough to succeed.
BQ: Ross Lyon said recently that the key people at the club signed off on a four-year rebuild last year. Was that under Steve Harris or was that in your time as president?
DA: I’ve been vice-president before coming in to the role as president, so we’re all committed and all party to the decisions that have been made. Absolutely committed to that. This isn’t just about cobbling together a quick fix. This is about that sustained success that we’re really aspiring to drive, so that we get that window to have ongoing finals representation. If we can be represented in finals ongoing, well then the ultimate success, premiership, is possible.
BQ: Are you confident Ross Lyon is the right man to do the rebuild?
BQ: What gives you that confidence?
DA: The confidence that we’ve got is back to when we extended his contract. That’s a pretty confident move by a club that says look this guy is the right guy. Again it’s back to behaviours, culture, application. Notwithstanding last year we had issues. A lot of those were injury related and really that’s not the coach’s issue. So it’s about the trademark of the coach, of Ross, his experience base and his ability. And we back that in.
BQ: He has a history and reputation as a coach of very mature teams. Do you think he can develop a list?
DA: I think so. What we see him doing in terms of the way that he embraces those new players that are coming into the club, he’s a very giving person in terms of nurturing those people. So in terms of where he’s been with mature lists, and then turning back to his ability to encourage younger players, he’s absolutely all over it. So again, they’re the things that we see in terms of the character and the nature of the person, that maybe those outside don’t necessarily see.
BQ: What did you learn from Steve Harris?
DA: I learnt that they’d be big boots to fill. We couldn’t ask for a president that could give more than Steve Harris gave. He’s a very smart person, a very dynamic person, a very focused person and very giving.
BQ: He was someone the public probably never saw or heard a lot of. What style of president do you want to be?
DA: Pretty quiet as well. Certainly I have a reasonably high public profile because of my businesses, particularly in WA. I don’t seek further publicity or exposure through being president of Fremantle.
BQ: I imagine one of the hardest things Steve Harris had to do was be involved in sacking a coach in controversial circumstances. Do you feel prepared to make those difficult decisions if called on?
DA: I take on the president’s role understanding all of the different dynamics that are potentially there. None of those things are any different than what I face in running a commercial operation, which I’ve done since I was 25. I operate in a pretty competitive industry in a pretty competitive state in WA. So I guess to survive the highs and lows of that, you’ve got to make the right calls at the right times. I think my history shows what I’m capable of in terms of leadership.
BQ: The era from 2013-2015 you had such a super team. Top four every year. Did the club let a flag get away then?
DA: There’s only one premiership a year. It’s not something that’s a foregone conclusion, that you can just dial up and say in one year, two years or four years that’s our spot and we’re going to go and nail it. In a 23-round season, it’s really about the health and fitness of that squad as they’re heading towards the end of the year and able to carry a finals campaign at the back end of a long season.
BQ: Have you got a genuine belief you can get that elusive flag in your time?
DA: I’m not here for less than the best performance we can get.
BQ: How satisfied do you think Fremantle will be with the final outcome of the negotiations to move home games to Perth Stadium next season?
DA: We’re pleased with where we sit today, albeit that the final negotiations haven’t been completed. Whoever is the new government coming in, it really should be a matter of weeks before that’s all wrapped up.