Peter Bell has become the first Fremantle Dockers player inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame.
Bell, who played 163 games for the club and was captain from 2002 to 2006, received the prestigious honour on Thursday night at a ceremony at the Crown Entertainment Centre in Melbourne.
He joins AFL Hall of Famers such as Gary Ablett Snr, Malcolm Blight, Dermott Brereton, Wayne Carey and Tony Lockett.
Bell won three Doig Medals (2001, 2003 and 2004), two premierships (1996 and 1999) with North Melbourne and was twice named in the All-Australian team in 1999 (North Melbourne) and 2003 (Fremantle).
Fremantle chief executive Steve Rosich said it was wonderful one of the club’s initial draftees was also its inaugural inductee into the AFL Hall of Fame.
“Peter is a worthy inductee into the Hall of Fame, he was a wonderful footballer, great leader and a terrific person,” he said.
“Peter continues to be active in his support of the Fremantle Football Club, including becoming an ambassador for the Fremantle Dockers Foundation.
“We are very pleased for Peter and his family for the much-deserved recognition.”
Current captain Matthew Pavlich, told Les Everett in his book Fremantle Dockers: An illustrated history, that Bell was a great leader and mentor.
“Peter was a tremendous leader, enormously determined and singled minded, and ruthless in his approach,” he said.
Bell was won of the first two players selected by the club in its inaugural draft in 1994 but his first stint with Freo showed little promise of what was to come.
He was delisted after just two games in 1995 because he was considered too slow by then coach Gerard Neesham.
Bell told Everett it was a decision that drove him to pursue his goal of playing AFL footy
He hung a poster in his home that read “Remember why. Fremantle 1995”.
It was designed to inspire him to keep training hard and get back into the AFL system.
The hard work paid off in 1996, when he was picked up by North Melbourne.
Bell played 123 games for the Victorian club before returning to Freo in 2001.
His return to the club was sparked by a visit to his suburban home in Melbourne from then Fremantle coach Damian Drum, chairman of selectors Ross Glendinning and young players Paul Hasleby, Matthew Pavlich, James Walker and Leigh Brow.
“They were impressive young guys,” Bell said.
“The idea of going back to Freo grew.”
Bell returned and took the same number, 32, which he had worn in his two appearances for the club in 1995.
He quickly became one of the club’s key figures on and off the ground and will now rightly sit alongside some of the AFL’s greatest players in the Hall of Fame.