The Bulldogs and that Other Side

by Andrew Gigacz

Q. Why didn’t the athiest chicken cross the road?

A. Because it didn’t believe in the other side.

 

At this time of year, it’s hard not to think about what lies on the other side. As we commemorate ANZAC Day and the leaves fall from the trees, thoughts turn to what the diggers knew of what lay on the other side of no man’s land when the call came to leave the trench. And if they didn’t make it, what lay on the other side once they’d made the ultimate sacrifice of fighting for their country?

 

For me, that question takes on extra significance at this time of year. Ten years ago, I lost a close footy friend, my brother-in-law Bill. Just after Anzac Day 1999, he lost his own battle with depression. I never asked Bill what he thought awaited us on the other side but sadly, for him it represented an escape from the demons that confronted him on this side.

 

Last April I had a flirt of my own with what lies beyond. Friday night footy had to be put to one side when my gall bladder decided its time on my inside was up. What was to be simple keyhole surgery turned ugly. The surgeon was to tell me later that it was about as bad a gall bladder as she’d ever seen, and, had it been fifty years earlier, I too may have been confronting the other side. The six-inch scar on my stomach serves as a reminder to me of the fine line between the two sides.

 

But those thoughts become little more than an aside as I walk through the gates at Docklands, hoping that my side, The Dogs, can overcome the other side, Carlton.

 

Of course, what lies on the other side would have been at the forefront of many a Blueblood mind as news arrived in the lead-up to this match that former Carlton President Dick Pratt was nearing death. As we all know, Pratt was the driving force in luring Chris Judd from the other side of the country to this.

 

I discuss our chances with Bulldog fans at my side. I’m hoping after last week’s unexpected loss, we’ll return to the fierce tackling grinding side we were in the first three weeks. My neighbours are worried about the loss of insider Cooney and outsider Akermanis. Ultimately those worries would prove to be well-founded.

 

The siren sounds and our attention turns from our side of the boundary to the players’. In the early stages, the players from both teams display sloppy skills all over the ground. The dropped marks, skewed kicks and players slipping over are at odds with the fact that these guys are playing inside. It’s not here this should be going on, it’s on the other side of the city at the MCG, where they’re playing in driving wind and rain. Or on the other side of the bay at Kardinia Park where the conditions are even worse.

 

It’s the Blues who first realise this and start displaying a degree of polish with the ball. They kick goals from all corners in the first half while the Bulldogs seem to have trouble discerning which sides of the goalposts are the right ones. It’s Carlton by 24 at the main break.

 

On the other side of half-time, any hopes of a Bulldogs revival are quickly broadsided. Carlton displays a brand of footy that makes one thankful that we don’t have an off-side rule – fast and free-flowing. When the Dogs have the ball, the Blues force them to one side of the ground or the other. When Carlton have it, they go straight up the guts. Murphy, Simpson and Gibbs queue up to join the party. For us there seems to be little to cheer about on the other side of the (Josh) Hill. My mates think the Blues have the umpires on-side but the truth is, on today’s evidence, when it comes to class, the Dogs come from the wrong side of the tracks. In the end, the Blues triumph comfortably by just the other side of seven goals.

 

In a game such as this, you tend to find the faults with your own side rather than see the good in the opposition, so, unlike the atheist chicken, I’m left uncertain as to whether or not I believe in the other side. Certainly, my belief in our side has diminished.

 

The Carlton team has played with a more agnostic attitude. Their worry-free attacking style reveals the attitude of a team that doesn’t care one way or another if there is another side.

 

VOTES: 3 Simpson, 2 Murphy, 1 Hill

About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?

Comments

  1. john weldon says:

    Too true Gigs,

    I thought they were determined to play wet weather footy too. The commentators were raving about the game on the radio, especially Wallsy and The Big Man Who Travels by Train, but I thought it was pretty awful. And then it got worse…

  2. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    What a thoughtful piece Gigs,

    Death and Footy. When I do die and cross over I would be pretty pissed off if I couldn’t at least be allowed to watch footy from wherever it is I go. I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one up there feeling the same.

    Just imagine how many Doggie fans have gone up since ’54. I believe in the other side, but I don’t want to lose touch with my ‘side’ down here either. Am I asking for too much?

  3. Thanks Phil. I don’t think you’re asking too much. I hope those who’ve gone up (or is that over?) since ’54 have got a front row seat reserved for when (if?) the Doggies finally do it again.

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