Stadium next port of call with Albany Shantymen to perform at Fremantle Dockers home game

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TheAlbany Shantymen will perform at Fremantle's next home game at Optus Stadium.
Camera IconTheAlbany Shantymen will perform at Fremantle's next home game at Optus Stadium. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

The Albany Shantymen will perform in front of 20,000-plus Fremantle Dockers fans at Optus Stadium on Sunday as they try to light a fire under the Purple Army before the first bounce.

More accustomed to singing over a pint in the local pub, the Shantymen have been invited to belt out some of their most stirring shanties as pre-match entertainment before Fremantle’s big clash with the Brisbane Lions.

Founder Gary ‘Grizz’ Greenwald, a Dockers supporter since he arrived in Australia, said it would be an experience they would never forget.

“Freo have just gone into the eight with three games to go,” he said. “A good result on Sunday could be a springboard for a strong end to the season and who knows what happens from there.

“If we can get the fans up and going, help energise the team, that would be fantastic.”

The Shantymen came on to the Fremantle Dockers’ radar through Eskimo Joe guitarist Stuart MacLeod.

Aerial view of the new Optus Perth Stadium with the city in the background.
Camera IconAerial view of the new Optus Perth Stadium with the city in the background. Credit: - MUST CREDIT PICTURE: Jaxon Roberts / Birds Eye Media. 26/01/2018

A Dockers club spokesman said MacLeod forwarded their details after hearing about the Albany International Folk ‘N’ Shanty Festival.

The group’s nautical heritage made them a good fit for pre-match entertainment celebrating country round, according to the spokesman.

Greenwald said there were obvious links between the Dockers and the Shantymen, two groups based in port cities with pride in their maritime culture.

“We sing working songs; the history of working songs, particularly with merchant seamen and working around the docks, I think it’s a great fit. Even the Dockers song, it’s not a shanty, but it’s obviously been done with a nod to working songs,” he said.

The Albany Shantymen had been due to host dozens of shanty groups from across Australia last month at the Albany International Folk ‘N’ Shanty Festival, but it was postponed due to COVID-19 uncertainty.

AFL Round 2 - Fremantle Dockers vs Essendon Bombers at Optus Stadium, Perth. PIctured - Massive crowd in attendance.
Camera IconAFL Round 2 - Fremantle Dockers vs Essendon Bombers at Optus Stadium, Perth. PIctured - Massive crowd in attendance. Credit: Daniel Wilkins

That disappointment should be eased by performing in front of a crowd the size of which few WA artists will experience.

“We’re all absolutely stoked about this,” Greenwald said.

“Don’t get me wrong, we’re under no illusions that we’re now stadium rockers. We sing with our mates in a pub. I guess it’s kind of an everyman story. If we can do it, anybody can. It has a bit of a fairytale quality to it.”

The Albany Shantyman are staying tight-lipped about their set list, but they have previously transformed one of their shanties — Haul Away Joe — into an unofficial Dockers anthem.

With some diehard Dockers fans among the group, the pre-match performance could hardly be better timed.

A win against Brisbane — who suffered a shock loss to Hawthorn on Sunday — would put them on the brink of featuring in the finals for first time since 2015.

“We just need to enjoy this and acknowledge that if this never happens again, it will be something we will remember for the rest of our lives,” Greenwald said.

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