Almost 20 years after the Sirengate saga, Fremantle find themselves embroiled in another controversy after being denied a potential free kick in the dying seconds of a loss to North Melbourne.
Controversy has erupted in the west following a dramatic finish to Fremantle’s clash with North Melbourne.
The Dockers stormed home in the final five minutes, kicking three goals to within a point after North had led for most of the match.
The final seconds of the match were shrouded in controversy after Daniel Howe’s spot-kick denied Fremantle a point to tie the game.
Howe was just a matter of seconds away from being a hero or a villain on his North Melbourne debut.
But he found himself in the thick of things when a kick from deep in defense was headed straight for the boundary line, about 10m short of the 50m line, with no North team-mate in sight.
It would have been a free kick to Fremantle and a kick after the buzzer to win or draw if the buzzer hadn’t gone off moments before the ball crossed the line.
Most of the 40,487 at Optus Stadium thought it should have been a free kick.
Around 500 North fans at the ground celebrated the amazing climax as the referees raised their hands to end the game.
Neither coach really knew what was going to happen, neither was sure what the rule was.
Alastair Clarkson was not surprised to see the game over.
“My understanding is that the buzzer sounded while the ball was still in play,” he said. “I think that’s just my bare observation.
“And I’m not sure if it is or not. And so if the ball is in play and the buzzer goes, what happens after the buzzer if it goes out of bounds or not? The game is dead.
“That’s my perception. I’m not sure if that’s actually true or not. So it will be interesting to see.
“So God’s grace was with us just for the last moment and I think our football club deserves it this time.
“We were jumping for joy and then there’s a bit of an argument about whether they called full-time or not.
“There was a bit of cheering and I thought the Freo fans said it was going to be their free-kick, but the cheers from the 500 Northern fans we had in the stadium.
“It was a pretty loud cheer from those 500 or 1,000.”
Justin Longmuir simply trusted the referees.
“I’m not 100 percent sure of the rules,” he said. “You know what, I’m sure the referee got it right. My guess is we’d steal it if we had a shot on goal and tied or won it.
“In the last incident, I’m sure the referee got it right.”
The umpires appear to have made the correct decision, ruling the ball still in play when the buzzer sounded.
The ruling is that the quarter will end immediately at the buzzer, but if the ball is already in flight beforehand, it can be scored.
Clarko praises young Roux in a crazy last minute
Despite a perfect 2-0 start to the 2023 season, Alastair Clarkson realistically admits North Melbourne still has a lot of work to do.
But after beating two West Australian sides in consecutive weeks, including a thrilling one-point victory in Perth on Saturday night, he said the Rooneys had shown they were on the right track.
Leading by 22 points against the Dockers, North allowed the Dockers to claw their way back into the game but pulled off a frantic last-minute defense to hold on for a famous victory.
Clarkson said the start of the season was a reward for the hard work the team put in.
“We’ve been looked at as a football club for the last couple of years, so yeah, we went up against a really good team and they played really hard in the second half,” he said.
“But we’re just hanging on and we’re in really important stages.
“They got some momentum and we were just able to go ahead and just get a really important goal to stop the flow.
“I’m not sure they’ve ever scored three in a row in a game.”
In that frantic final minute, young gun Harry Schiesel stood up again, making a decisive stop with seconds on the clock.
In his second game, he gave someone a cool head, not letting the ball bounce past him, which would have tied the game.
Sheezel again excelled with 30 disposals at over 70 per cent efficiency.
Clarkson praised his new young star, but warned there was still more talent to shine.
“Yeah, to be present in that situation to not let that point pass quickly,” Clarkson exclaimed.
“You know, we’ve got a whole bunch of those guys. I mean, I know Sheez is only getting accolades at the moment, but we’re really excited about what’s in store for the footy club.”
Originally published as AFL Round 2: Fremantle v North Melbourne controversial finish video