Warning: this piece contains many “Dad jokes and puns” proceed with caution.
It was a dog of a week for the Pies in the lead up to Round One with Jordy DOGoey’s broken hand and the associated fake news story implicating his dog – what a sly dog act it was, which was ironic given that we were scheduled to play the Bulldogs in our season opener! And it turned out to be a Dog Day Afternoon, Night and Week for the Pies as just like Al Pacino’s character Sonny in the 1975 classic movie things didn’t quite go to plan for Bucks.
I went into the game with a glimmer of optimism. The Pies had a reasonably positive pre-season series and our second half of 2016 was an improvement on the debacle of our early season efforts, which was a dog’s breakfast. And both our 2016 games against the Doggies were both dog-eat-dog contests where we were unlucky not to win.
In the pre-match afternoon, I checked out the 2nds practice match where a couple of Pies with great pedigree, father-son pals Daics & Browny were on display. Unfortunately it was a dog day afternoon for the VFL Pies with some late last quarter fumbles and missed opportunities turning a gettable 4 goal deficit into an 8 goal loss. On the plus side it must have been ecstasy for JT and Keefey to be back playing footy. And good to see Scharenberg back with some intercept marks, penetrating kicks and one percenters, including a few German shepherds to help provide space for our running backs. And like a menu at a hipster cafe, Kayle (Kirby) was in everything with 3 goals and lots of highlights.
It was then time to walk across the bridge to the G and as you would expect with Collingwood against the reigning premiers there was a big crowd, with every man and his dog at the Friday night blockbuster. It was a new look Pies side compared to 2016 Round 1, with 12 changes. We have a couple of new faces in the team, the classy hyphen (Hoskin-Elliott), the Sun’s Schade and Mayne the late inclusion for Aish (virus) who was as sick as a dog. Two of the biggest names gone from that 2016 Round 1 side were the Great Dane Swan (sadly retired) and Clokey who was in the dog house at the Pies for so much of 2016 that he decided to move permanently to the kennel for 2017.
The first quarter was just like GrounDhOG Day, with our midfield on top but butchering our forward entries and shots at goal. Whipping boy Blair was prominent early with two misses and a costly turnover and the Doggies bit us with their fast and skilful rebound. And sadly our usual wasteful goal-kicking stat of 1.4.10 raised its ugly head again and we decided to go one better with 1.5 to 5.1 at quarter time. We all know that dogs love butchers and we gave them plenty of bones to get their teeth into in the first quarter.
The second quarter started like the first, with Moore dropping a sitter losing the ball in the lights and Faz missing an easy goal from 30 out directly in front. Johannisen was off the leash and tearing us apart all over the ground with his pace and class. Then all of a sudden we found some belief and started to get some reward for our dominant ruck and midfield. After Faz’s easy miss he responded almost immediately drilling a ripper on the run from 50 metres and then added a two more and he was as happy as a dog with two tails – he was like a bloodhound sniffing out goals at every opportunity. Grundy was dominating the ruck and the midfield of Sidey, Treloar, Adams, Pendles and co were feeding off him to give us a dominant inside 50 count. A couple of late misses which could have put us in front at half time, again stalling our momentum.
We started the 3rd with Treloar bursting through 50 and drilling a great goal and we hit the front. We had all the momentum and I thought that we might just be a chance. But, we fell back into old habits with poor disposal and the Dogs slingshot footy caught us out of position time and time again to get out to a 5 goal lead, before the Sack finally kicked a goal just before ¾ time to get us to within 25 points. The only other highlight of the quarter was when Blair and Daniel clashed and it was like a couple of Chihuahuas going at each other.
The last quarter was a typical round one slog with both sides running out of legs. We had plenty of chances led by our top dog Pendles who kicked two goals to get us back into the game. But again, we wasted our chances and the Doggies made us pay on the rebound. We scrapped our way to within 13 points with plenty of time left but you could see they just didn’t have the same belief and confidence that they showed in the 2nd quarter. But we were like a dog chasing a car, we were never going to catch them. The last 5 minutes was comical as we made mistake after mistake – it was worthy of putting the Benny Hill theme music over the top and we fell to a gallant but predictable 14 point loss.
Our midfield was outstanding with their contested footy, our backline stood up well at times given the circumstances that we allowed the Doggies to rebound some quickly and apart from a few cameo moments from Faz and White our forward line was dysfunctional. The umpires lost the Plott (yes, that’s a breed of dog) a few times with some crucial decisions going against us at times which didn’t help our cause, but our poor disposal let us down more than they did. Pendles was like a silky terrier with his classy possessions and relentless efforts and was a clear best on ground. Taylor Adams was like a rottweiler with his aggression and manic attack at the ball and opposition. Sidey, Treloar, Smith and Howe all performed well for the majority of the night. But too many of our blokes made basic and costly skill and decision making errors through the night. And our old mate Clokey showed that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, with a typical long bomb goal in the first quarter but then a lame sprayed attempt from 35 out in the pressure of the last quarter – he would have gone home with a smile, but every dog has his day!
Some promising signs against the classy reigning premiers, but in the end for Sonny Bucks it turned out to be a Dog Day Afternoon, Night and Week.
The Jim McAllister Medal goes to: