There’s a lot Shaun McManus can recall from Fremantle’s first game at Docklands twenty years ago on 2 April 2000, when Freo held on for a one-point win against Richmond.
Playing as co-captain of the club alongside Adrian Fletcher for the fourth time, McManus said he remembered Fremantle’s five-goal first quarter – racing out to a 27-point lead – as well as Tony Modra’s seven-goal haul.
He recalled being wowed by the professionalism of the facilities at the ground, which was then called Colonial Stadium, but also how the sun made life difficult for forwards and how the turf tore up easily under foot.
But most of all, he remembered how one hit single, Freestyler by Bomfunk MCs, spurred Fremantle on to victory.
“We were in a really good mood running out for that game,” McManus said.
“We were doing a lap around the ground pre-game and the Richmond faithful were pretty noisy, but there was that song called Freestyler playing over the PA.
“I still remember ‘Mods’ singing along and it put us all in the mood.
“It didn’t matter what was coming at us from over the fence, we just had a good vibe about the day.
“We got off to a really good start, that was the thing. We were all singing it to ourselves as we were getting around the place and throughout the game.”
McManus also felt he was on song that day. Playing in the midfield, he had 22 disposals and a goal, and joked that his three inside 50s contributed significantly to Modra’s haul.
“I kicked the ball to him a few times and they were probably the best drop punts that I’ve kicked in my life, as I have been known to spray a few,” McManus said.
“For me it was about kicking to the great man who was leading hard up the corridor.
“Once Mods kicked a few after the first quarter, it was just us getting behind him.
“You knew that his confidence was up, and once the ball was in his area, he was going to mark it and score.
“I think that provided the great atmosphere for the small amount of Dockers supporters that were there and even more for us on the ground.”
One thing McManus didn’t remember was how close the final result was.
“I think we left a few opportunities out there on the ground in the second half but we’d done enough damage in the first quarter to be able to make sure we got over the line,” McManus said.
“I can’t believe it was so close in the end, that blows me away looking back.
“My memory from that game was that we dominated for the most part, but to think it was that close at the end, that’s interesting for me to remember.”
McManus reflected how amazing it was for Freo to sign a player of Modra’s calibre back in 1999.
Modra kicked 148 of his 588 career goals for Fremantle, including 71 in 1999, which trails only Matthew Pavlich’s 72 goals in 2007 as the most by a Freo player in a season.
“I was blown away that we were able to get Modra. He was a hero of the game and he was the next level player that we really didn’t have,” McManus said.
“Playing with him was great and having him join the club, was quite incredible.
“When he was on the field, he was an absolute professional. There was a lot to learn if you were a young forward watching the way he went about his training on the footy field.
“When we played Adelaide at Football Park, you would have thought it was a home game when we ran out on the field.
“The crowd roared for him, it was incredible. The fans absolutely loved him and it made us feel super comfortable as they were going wild for the great man.”
McManus also commented on the design of the away jumper Fremantle wore that day, a guernsey that has gained cult status among fans in recent years.
“I thought at the time that they were a bit odd,” McManus said.
“It’s definitely grown on me over the time but certainly through that period, I wasn’t sure if they were the ones that were going to do it for us, that’s for sure.”