AFL Round 1 – Western Bulldogs v Brisbane: Pride (in the name of the litter)

Before the opening Saturday of the season, the excitement for this match wasn’t exactly over the top. In Brisbane there were Bronco and Storm fans congregated at the Roma Street train station 4 hours before kickoff on Good Friday Night. The mainstream football media tended to concentrate on curses, triumphs against adversity and young stars not associated with the Dogs or Lions. By the end of the night, the result would have been the big story if it wasn’t for Gold Coast’s number 9 again doing what Bullwinkle still couldn’t do. Still, this was the stunning result of the weekend, for many of the same judges who largely ignored this contest also thought Gold Coast would win.

The main focus of the lead in was the absence of skipper of both the Bulldogs and several Dream Teams and Super Coach outfits Matthew Boyd, replaced by Bob Murphy. With the new boss of Docklands seemingly looking to replace the club song with another entrance song to ‘enhance entertainment’, I was thinking about suggesting to Bob that he runs out to Gary Glitter’s “Leader of the Gang”, but certain lines in that song coupled with the singer’s extra-curricular activities put a stop to that. So perhaps he could have done what I have done with the title of this report, but I guess not even Bono and The Edge could have envisaged putting on a performance on a Saturday Afternoon than what I saw.

Before the start of the game, I admitted on the record that Brisbane should be winning this game by in excess of 10 goals to be serious finals contenders. By the end of the opening quarter my big call of the season changed to “they are no chance of making the 8”. It may or may not have had anything to do with how poorly they played in clearance situations or from their wasteful conversion rate following their rare chances to score. No matter how grim the diagnosis of Brisbane’s opening quarter was though, Bulldog fans were dancing in the aisles not just because of the 6 goal burst which hadn’t been spotted since Dale Morris had a pair of unbroken legs, but also the ferocity of the tackles and the ability to not only keep the ball inside attacking 50 but also apply scoreboard pressure.

Pleasingly, this tended to continue for most of the day which never happened at any stage during 2012. Normally when a couple of goals were conceded it would be usually followed with a 5 minute period of stagnation and another 3 goals conceded. Then the heads would drop, the club latin motto of ‘cede nullis’ forgotten and the result would be a heavy defeat. This wouldn’t happen on Saturday, so in terms of benchmark performances you could mark the date 30 March 2013 as the day the Bulldogs had their Brereton/Vandenberg moment (otherwise known as Line in the Sand). Unless of course you were the stand in captain Bob Murphy who would also mark this day down as the day he  became clubhouse leader in Goal of the Year.

There wasn’t a single player wearing the red white and blue jumper that didn’t contribute. Sure some of the backline were helped by pathetic service to the key forwards making it easy for the like of Roughead and Morris to blanket their opponents (Brown, Martin and Cornelius only managed a single goal each), but the midfield stepped up without their captain to not only win a greater share of the Sherrin but also virtually cut the Lion prime movers out of the game. Normally it would be Liam Picken that the faithful would sing the praises of for a lock down job, but Ed Lower created a reduction in output for Daniel Rich, who looked as though he wanted to be at Bells to take on Kelly Slater.

In the interest of fairness, there were a couple of Lions players that at least tried to summon John Kennedy’s spirit (Do Something for those that are novices to this caper). Rockliff and Moloney were serviceable, even though waiting for the starting midfielders to jog for 2 minutes before coming off before their introduction seemed an error. Merrett was OK in the back half and at least nullified Jones (who is well behind Ayce Cordy and Jarrad Grant in the race for a single list spot for 2014, at least that would be the lowdown if I was the list manager), and despite being overwhelmed by the stronger and more experienced if not mature Will Minson at least Billy Longer showed that there is a future big man who could carry the ruck department following Ben Hudson moving his John Farnham tour back to Melbourne.

For now it is a triumph for Brendan McCartney, whom for a week at least has elevated himself to 17th best in the coaching ranks above Mark Neeld, but a single performance certainly doesn’t mean wins will just happen. As any punter who attends Flemington and Caulfield with regularity will tell you, it’s often the follow up performance that will determine just how well a side will perform. The next assignment is against team Deep Purple, where Fremantle will be looking to continue to blow smoke off the water and into the kennel. After all, given that the previous encounter against Brisbane resulted in a loss exceeding 10 goals; it would be easier to turn around a triple digit margin from a month ago in the NAB Cup wouldn’t it? Brisbane meantime are like myself in a way, returning home next weekend although my task of sorting parcels seems easier than meeting an angry Adelaide side in a Saturday twilight fixture.

As I look out the motel room window at the West Gate Bridge, a symbol of the West for so many for so long, I could sum up the day by reinforcing the pride in the club of the Western Suburbs. I could sum up the day as another triumph for the battlers. I could sum up the day as a trip well worth making (and hopefully Adelaide in 3 weeks will be a repeat). But I will sum up the day as one giant step for 22 desperate individuals, one giant bark from the awakened Bulldog.

MATCH DETAILS

BULLDOGS 19.13.127
BRISBANE 7.17.59

SCORERS
DOGS:
Higgins 3.3, Giansiracusa 3.0, Griffen 2.1, Murphy 2.1, Dickson 2.0, Dahlhaus 2.0, Cordy 2.0, Jones 1.2, Johannisen 1.1, Cooney 1.0, Lower 0.1, RUSHED 0.4
LIONS: Cornelius 1.3, Redden 1.1, Rich 1.1, Martin 1.1, Brown 1.1, Moloney 1.0, Beams 1.0, Zorko 0.2, Green 0.1, Karnezis 0.1, McGrath 0.1, Polkinghorne 0.1, Bewick 0.1, RUSHED 0.3

BEST
DOGS:
Griffen, Goodes, Lower, Wallis, Liberatore, Higgins, Giansiracusa, Dickson
LIONS: Moloney, Merrett, Rockliff, Longer

MALARKEY MEDAL
3:
Ryan GRIFFEN (DOGS)
2: Ed LOWER (DOGS)
1: Tory DICKSON (DOGS)

 

OFFICIALS (7 men with whistles and 2 blokes with flags proving it still isn’t easy wearing green)
FIELD: Findlay, Dalgleish, Margetts (EM: Hosking)
BOUNDARY: Marantelli, Bergroth, Burrows, Tongue
GOAL: Venkataya, Canning
VIDEO REVIEW: Someone with no idea of which boot belongs to certain players

CROWD: 25263

About Mick Jeffrey

32 Year Old, Bulldogs Member and tragic. Reserve Grade coach after over 225 combined senior/reserves appearances for Brothers AFC in AFL Capricornia. 11 time Marathon finisher, one time Ultra Marathon finisher and Comrades Marathon competitor 2017.

Comments

  1. Neil Anderson says:

    You make me feel guilty watching the match on TV only 250 ks from Ethiad after reading how far you travelled. I guess it was all those trips back home in recent years after a loss which seemed to take for ever. If we won the the three and a half hour trip would be over in a flash.
    It was a great day for Doggy supporters and reading the Almanac web-site, also for those who have the Dogs as their second team.
    Interesting to read your thoughts on possibly the weakest links with the Dogs moving forward. Grant , Jones and Cordy have always worried me even after Saturday’s performance. I know Grant wasn’t there but all those guys need to really improve to complement the batch of onballers recruited as a first priority.

  2. Oh yeah, and it’s NICK Lower not Ed, this error was made well before April 1 so it’s NOT an April Fool’s Joke.

  3. PeterSchumacher says:

    Youse was too good!

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