DOES the number 2121 mean anything to you? It's the number of days since Fremantle last played an AFL game on a Friday night. They'll break that drought this Friday evening against North Melbourne.

The long wait dates back to July 15, 2016, when the Ross Lyon-led Dockers lost by 17 points to Geelong in front of 31,042 fans at Subiaco Oval in round 17, with Patrick Dangerfield collecting the three Brownlow votes that night.

Since then, every other AFL club has had a taste of the revered Friday night timeslot, including struggling Gold Coast twice.


The Western Bulldogs and Collingwood have each had 25 appearances in Friday's Broadway timeslot. Geelong (23) and Sydney (21), two seemingly perennial top-eight contenders, have the next most.

North Melbourne (five), which has struggled across the past few years, is just behind Gold Coast (two) for the fewest.

Even amid the rolling 2022 fixture, Fremantle's struggling crosstown rival West Coast has hosted two Friday night fixtures this year (both heavy blowouts) and will host another against Essendon in round 15.

West Coast players look dejected after a loss during round seven, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Friday night home-and-away games since Fremantle's last on July 15, 2016

25 - Western Bulldogs, Collingwood
23 - Geelong
21 - Sydney
19 - Essendon, Richmond
17 - Adelaide
14 - Hawthorn, GWS Giants
13 - St Kilda
12 - Port Adelaide
10 - West Coast
8 - Carlton, Melbourne
7 - Brisbane
5 - North Melbourne
2 - Gold Coast

It should be noted since that 2016 fixture, Fremantle hasn't made the finals – a benchmark often used for deeming a side 'Friday night worthy' – but zero appearances is still very few.

It should also be noted the Dockers had a standalone Thursday night fixture (another primetime TV slot) in 2021, hosting the Cats in round 18 in front of 35,000 fans at Optus Stadium when Geelong won by 69 points.

Geelong players celebrate the win over Fremantle in round 18 on July 15, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

During Fremantle's last genuine premiership window, they had two Friday night games in each of 2013, 2014 and 2016, plus an additional Thursday night fixture in 2014. In 2015, they had one Thursday game and one Friday game.

All that said, Fremantle hasn't always prioritised Friday night footy at home, given the challenges it brings for city workers due to the required early local start for TV back to the eastern seaboard. The timeslot also makes attending the game harder for country fans with the difficulty of weekday travel.

But Fremantle's Friday night drought has been a point of consternation for plenty of Dockers fans, many of whom simply long for the national recognition that the marquee timeslot provides – as is a common West Australian trait.

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Upon the announcement of the 2022 fixture in December last year, Fremantle trumpeted the news with the headline 'Friday night lights are back!' Dockers CEO Simon Garlick said: "It's been a long wait for the Purple Army to see Fremantle return to Friday night football, so we're thrilled for them as well as the players, who will also be excited to return to the big stage."

Garlick has spoken this week about achieving a club record non-Derby home crowd in excess of 50,000, with their current best being 49,021 from round two, 2018 against Essendon in their first-ever game at Optus Stadium.

07:38 Mins
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Highlights: Geelong v Fremantle

The Cats and Dockers clash in round 7

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With the side re-emerging as a contender in 2022, sitting third with a 6-1 record, perhaps primetime slots will return alongside bumper crowds. Not that coach Justin Longmuir was too fazed this week.

"It's a great opportunity for the club, our members and fans," the Dockers coach said. "As a playing group, we're pretty matter-of-fact about when we play, we don't get caught up in the hype and the external opinion around when you play.

"We get scheduled to play, as a coaching group and playing group, we accept that and plan our week very similarly. Nothing really changes. But on the other hand, it's great for our club and brand and our fans."

The reality is one feeds into the other. And it starts on Friday night, at long last.