West Coast, Fremantle fans unite as Dockers ditch Ross Glendinning Medal
Both sides in WA's fierce football rivalry have shown rare unity just days from probably the biggest Western Derby in history.
Fremantle and West Coast fans and key figures, along with most of the WA football media, were left somewhat dazed and confused on Monday night after the Dockers released a statement declaring the traditional Ross Glendinning Medal for the Derby's best player would not be awarded on Sunday … nor would the trophy.
And the traditionally-packed Wednesday joint press conference with both coaches was also scrapped, for individual ones.
Dockers CEO Steve Rosich said a new agreement both clubs had just signed with long-time Western Derby sponsor Carlton United Breweries was the reason for the massive changes to tradition.
"There will be no player medal awarded to the best player on the ground from both teams after the game," Rosich said.
“We will continue to work with West Coast to investigate a joint sponsor for the derby and the possibility of that sponsor taking up the trophy rights for the derby in the future."
West Coast didn't seem to be on board with the changes, which is not surprising given Glendinning's standing as a club legend and inaugural captain in 1987.
Docker Paul Hasleby won the Ross Glendinning medal a record four times.
Coach Adam Simpson said the Eagles would hand out their own medal to the club's best player.
"I suppose it's Freo's prerogative – now that CUB aren't the game-day sponsor, they can do what they want," the North Melbourne legend told Seven News Perth in his weekly Monday segment.
And the man who has claimed more Ross Glendinning medals than any other player – Dockers midfield magnet Paul Hasleby – was also dismayed with his former club's decision.
"I think he was the right man (to name the medal after) and it has built up a place in Western Australian history and, for me individually, I get referred to as the four-time Ross Glendinning Medal winner on a number of occasions throughout the week," he told afl.com.au.
Show me the money?
The real debacle stemming from Monday's bombshell is that West Coast and Fremantle could not agree on securing a lucrative naming rights sponsor for what was always going to be WA's most anticipated Western Derby – the first at Perth's new $1.8 billion, state-of-the-art stadium – enhanced by the surprising strong start to 2018 for both the Dockers (equal 3rd) and Eagles (1st).
The clash will smash all-time WA football attendance records, not to mention garner unprecedented TV exposure for both cross-town rivals, WA footy and the AFL.
How or why the WA Football Commission or the league itself didn't intervene before it was too late remains a mystery.
Both Fremantle and West Coast have had ample time to have sponsorship arrangements in place, with the 47th clash between them locked in at Optus Stadium since the AFL released its fixtures in late 2017.
What role, if any, stadium management had in the (non) naming rights deal is not known, but CUB used to run the taps at Subiaco Oval and WA rival Gage Roads is now the official brewery at the sprawling Burswood venue.
Why no sponsor was signed in time for Sunday's historic match and the effect this may have on the promotion and success of the first Western Derby and all stakeholders is for now unknown.
Fremantle, West Coast, Optus Stadium and CUB have been asked for a comment on the matter.
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