Throughout the AFL’s shutdown period, we will be taking a look back at some of the most important and interesting moments in Fremantle history.

30 March 2003 was a big day for the club’s biggest ever player, as Aaron Sandilands made his AFL debut against Adelaide at Football Park.

Incidentally, it was also a big day for one of Freo’s shorter players with the 17-year-old Byron Schammer also making his debut. At 176cm, Schammer stood 35cm shorter than his fellow debutant.

01:17 Mins
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On This Day | The start of a giant career

March 30 2020 | We rewind it back 17 years ago to 2003 when a young 211cm ruckman by the name of Aaron Sandilands made his AFL debut.

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Taken at no.33 in the 2002 rookie draft, Sandilands spent the 2002 season at his original WAFL club East Fremantle before earning his call-up the following season.

The 211cm ruckman instantly became the tallest player in the AFL but he didn’t instantly become the club’s no.1 ruck, instead sharing the role with versatile ruck/forward Troy Simmonds.

Sandilands racked up 13 hitouts that day, well below his career average of 31, while Simmonds had 16.

They weren’t the only Freo Dockers to get a hitout, with Freo’s 1999 star draftees Matthew Pavlich (three) and Paul Hasleby (one) also pitching in in the ruck.

Sandilands capped off the day with a goal in the fourth quarter. Hit on the lead by Pavlich and slotting the goal from 45 degrees and 35 metres.

Adelaide would go on to win 145-89 in a high scoring affair, but it would be a successful season for Sandilands, with Freo winning 13 of his 19 games played in a year that led to the club’s first finals series.

Sandilands would go on to play 271 games for Fremantle and rack up an AFL record 8502 hitouts.