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The 'Indian truce bonfire party' that sparked Freo's 2006 season all the way to the prelim

Justin Chadwick, AAP  July 22, 2014 5:28 PM

AFL 2008 Rd 22 - Fremantle v Collingwood

Jeff Farmer's behaviour was often exuberant and occasionally annoying

There were a few goes at 'The Wizard' (Jeff Farmer) for some of his on-field habits
AN "INDIAN truce" bonfire party helped ease player unrest at Fremantle in 2006 and played a key role in catapulting the Dockers to that year's preliminary final, a new book has revealed.

Then-Fremantle coach Chris Connolly thought his coaching career was coming to an end midway through 2006 as players started to question his complicated game plan.

Disharmony between players was also causing issues.

With the Dockers struggling at 6-6 following a 66-point home loss against Geelong, a showdown between senior players and Connolly was looming.

But the air was cleared during a heart-to-heart bonfire session held on the farm of then-president Rick Hart.

Then-assistant coach Mark Harvey suggested the idea after the "Indian truce" event worked wonders during his time at Essendon.

"We decided the players could have a drink - it would be very relaxed," Hart recalls in the newly-released book, Fremantle Dockers: An Illustrated History.

"Then came the moment when people had to come clean with any issues they had.

"There was absolute silence for some minutes. Then someone said: 'I'll tell you what drives me up the wall - Paul Medhurst's mobile phone never stops going off'.

"Within about an hour there were lots of people having their say. I think they solved a few things there and blokes were able to explain themselves.

"There were a few goes at 'The Wizard' (Jeff Farmer) for some of his on-field habits and he promised not to do them any more.

Watch 'the Wiz' recount his brilliance

"Blokes who hadn't liked each other shook hands."

Skipper Matthew Pavlich said the bonfire session also allowed the players to air their grievances towards the coaching group about the game plan.

"We told them we wanted to simplify the game plan - it was too complex," Pavlich said.

"Guys were thinking way too much out on the field.

"Chris (Connolly) certainly embraced them (players' suggestions) in time.

"There were also some players telling other players some home truths about not being hard enough or dedicated enough."

Although Fremantle lost to Sydney by 33 points the following week, the players felt the simpler game plan - which put an emphasis on attacking through the middle - was working.

"We went on to win nine in a row and made it all the way to the prelim," Pavlich said.

"It was some of the most exciting football that I've been involved in."

The book, written by former Dockers board member Les Everett, details Fremantle's 20-year history, including the infamous board leak that informed the media of Damian Drum's sacking in 2001 before the coach was told of his fate.