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.
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.