SOUTH FREMANTLE'S Ryan Cook will become the Bulldogs' longest ever serving captain this Thursday night against Subiaco but what he wants more than anything is to get some form back to build towards his team's first finals appearance since 2011.
Cook will captain South Fremantle for an 86th time this Thursday night against Subiaco at Medibank Stadium that will see him surpass the current captaincy record at the Bulldogs he shares with 1997 premiership co-captain Peter Worsfold.
Considering South Fremantle has been captained by the likes of Clive Lewington, Steve Marsh, Frank Treasure, John Todd, Hassa Mann, Brian Ciccotosto, Noel Carter, Brad Collard, Marty Atkins, David Gault and Toby McGrath, it's quite an achievement for Cook to not have been captain for the most number of games.
While the thing that Cook is desperately craving is some finals success considering just one of his 107 WAFL appearances since arriving in 2011 has been a final, to now hold such an honour as the longest serving captain is something he is understandably humbled by.
And to surpass someone like Peter Worsfold whom he worked with when he first became captain in 2012 in his second year with South Fremantle having arrived after four years and four AFL games with Collingwood makes the achievement hit home even more.
"The achievement hasn’t really sunk in yet. When I was named captain back in 2012, Pete Worsfold was down here helping us leaders out and he helped me out a lot. I had a fair few one-on-ones with him that year and he was a really good guide for me especially," Cook said.
"In my first year coming over, I just wanted to test myself out and I didn’t really know how much history was associated with the club and what environment I was entering, it is such a proud club and has had a lot of quality players and leaders over time.
"But it only took a couple of games to walk around and realise what sort of place this is. This is my fifth year as captain now and each year I've gotten more comfortable with it, and accepted the role. I have been very fortunate to have had other fantastic leaders around me all sharing the load and striving to improve."
While Thursday is a significant occasion for Cook as he sets the new captaincy record at South Fremantle, a win is what he would treasure a lot more and it could very well send the Bulldogs back to the top of the ladder depending on percentage.
However, playing on Thursday does present some new challenges but Cook is keen to see how the WAFL's attempt at Thursday night football proves as popular for the TV audience on 7mate as the AFL version has.
"A Thursday night game this week presents a different challenge. We haven't played a night game since Round 3 against East Perth it’s a balancing act to prepare for a later game. I like to move around in the morning and go about my business, then have a bit of a sleep later in the day," he said.
"But everyone prepares differently and it should be a good occasion. Both sides have been in good form for a large portion of the season, they have had the wood on us the last few years as they have with most. We aim to go there, shut down their style of play and get back to our brand of footy."
South Fremantle, however, has lost its last four games to Subiaco with its last win coming in Round 22, 2014.
Cook is hoping the Bulldogs come and put together a strong four-quarter performance on Thursday coming out of the bye and two disappointing losses to East Perth and Claremont both at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
"They just play a hard physical finals-like brand of footy and I'd like to think we do as well. We just need to match them," Cook said.
"They've led the way in that area and been consistent the last four or five years with that standard so we just have to match them in that contested ball and hard slog style of footy, and grind it out. They are a grinding side, that's what they do, and they do it for four quarters.
"Curls always says it's not the first three sirens that count, it's the last one so if you can match the effort and be close coming into the last quarter I think with the way we've been running out games that’ll give us every chance of victory."
Cook felt that last week was a good time for a bye not only because playing on a Thursday without a bye would have been unreasonable, but because it gave the Bulldogs a chance to regroup following the two losses in succession.
It also now allows South Fremantle to prepare for the final six games of the 2016 season leading into the finals without a bye and Cook hopes they are able to recapture some of the outstanding form they have shown for much of the year to currently sit in second spot at 10-4.
"It's a good time for the bye to come for us. We have had a pretty hard slog the last few weeks in the wet. We are training over the weekend which I think is a good thing to keep our bodies moving, no game gives us the chance to have a mental break," he said.
"The last few years we've had a bye somewhere near the last few rounds or close to the end of the season and that makes it hard to keep the momentum going, so we are looking at getting some form back now and really driving our standard and brand of footy towards the end of the season.
"Hopefully we get some momentum back with these last six games and we're there for the business end and finals action."
Cook's first year in the WAFL with South Fremantle was 2011 and that saw the Bulldogs make a first semi-final but lose to Subiaco at Medibank Stadium and there has been no September action since.
While Cook has had some tremendous individual success with two fairest and best awards and four times representing Western Australia, it's that desire for finals action and ultimately success that continues to drive him on.
"My first year here was 2011 and we made the finals but it's been a long four years since we've been there. We have always felt optimistic about making it with the teams we've had the last few years but we've kept missing out," Cook said.
"It is exciting to be in the mix this year but we still need to bank some more wins. We have six games to go and we'd like to try and win the majority of them to hopefully finish up near the top somewhere.