book_reviews_banner_image-81x81 ANYTHING BUT CRICKET


Published: 2017
Pages: 240
Author: Whish-Wilson, David and Gorman, Sean
Publisher: Fremantle Press
Rating: 3.5 stars

Derby – is about the rivalry between the two Western Australian (WA) based teams in the Australian Football League (AFL). West Coast Eagles (WCE) and the Fremantle Dockers (Freo).

In many sports there is the rivalry between the rich well to do clubs and the battlers. In the Derby, whether it’s strictly true or not, the WCE’s are considered as chardonnay sipping snobs and their rivals as the Freo Ferals.

The two clubs play each other twice a season and these matches are known as the Derby. The first clash was in 1995 when Freo joined the competition. The WCE had debuted in 1987 and were an established side having already won two Flags (premierships). WCE dominated, winning the first nine Derbies and currently lead 32 to 21 in the overall results. 

Derby – interviews 36 fans and dedicates between four to six pages per interview. The basic format is for each person to report on how they came to be a footy supporter and how that led to them following either WCE or Freo, before giving an impression of what the Derby means to them and WA. While many of those interviewed will not be that well known outside of Perth the interviews are all well written and entertaining.

The 36 fans interviewed vary from the fanatical to the occasional celebrity. Cricket is not forgotten with both Dennis Lillee and Justin Langer featured. Both are WCE supporters and discuss the problems of following Aussie Rules when you are overseas playing cricket for your country. Apart for Lillee and Langer, the other most noted of those interviewed was basketball legend Luc Longley, who follows Freo.

Overall, I enjoyed the interviews with the fanatical supporters the most. You can sense their passion for their teams and their dislike (often hate) for their local rivals. Both sets of supporters felt the opposition were poor losers. I actually found myself agreeing with the Freo supporters. Perhaps that was simply because Freo are the perennial underdogs, still yet to win a Flag, while big brother WCE now have four titles.

One regular theme throughout the book was the possibility of the ultimate Derby – a grand final between the two teams. Such are the bragging rights for the winner, a lot of those interviewed did not want a grand final between the clubs, stating that they simply couldn’t handle the magnitude of a loss in the ‘big dance’.

Not being a fan of either team, I still thoroughly enjoyed this little book and have a greater appreciation of the significance of the Derby. I will definitely watch it in a new light and will think of the fanatical fans’ response to the result. There will either be tears or boasting. I hope they both win one Derby each in 2022 so they can all experience some joy.

I was not familiar with either author – but based on Derby I will now keep an eye out for their other books. Derby is an excellent read and will be devoured by all AFL fans.   


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