Round 15 – Sydney v Western Bulldogs: Youthful Revolution at the Dogs
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Sydney versus Western Bulldogs
4.35 pm, Saturday, 2nd July
Sydney Cricket Ground
ACT 1, SCENE 1
NARRATOR: Two Bulldog supporters meet up for coffee in Bondi before heading off to watch the Dogs versus Swans match at the SCG. LARRY GILMORE nicknamed HAPPY is a local and is busy checking the teams which are well-hidden in the back of the The Daily Telegraph. DANNY who lives in Droop Street, Footscray, Victoria has just arrived from the airport to catch up with his mate. He sits down after ordering a coffee, sighing and utterly despondent, which is in complete contrast to his friend HAPPY.
HAPPY: Have you seen the teams? Bloody fantastic ins for the Dogs!
DANNY: Eight bucks for a cup of coffee. Unbelievable. Just because it’s Bondi.
HAPPY: They’ve even brought Big Will Minson back!
DANNY: They’ll probably give him a couple of games before he retires. (pause) I wonder how
long it will take this guy to make his precious over-priced coffee? I don’t know how
you can afford to live up here.
HAPPY: And look at this! JJ’S back with Easton Wood! You little beauty!
DANNY: Now there’s a couple of hamstrings just waiting to twang. ( pause) What do they charge
for food and drinks at the SCG, do you know?
HAPPY: Clay Smith’s playing after his third knee reco. I can’t wait to see how he goes!
DANNY: And they’ll just throw him to the wolves against that Sydney mid-field. He
should’ve come back in the VFL. I’m starting to get a bad feeling about this match.
HAPPY: Geez Danny. I thought you’d be looking forward to the match today. The Dogs have
picked a really strong side. Don’t you reckon?
DANNY: ( sighing) Yeah, well at the start of every season, they tell you it’s going to be
the year of the Dog…and what happens, they can’t even beat Hawthorn or Geelong.
HAPPY: But they’re 9-4 even with all the injuries. So why did you fly up here if you thought the
Dogs weren’t going to be good things?
DANNY: Well like I said, they suck you in with all that hope so you’ll take out a membership.
So I might as well get my money’s worth… even if we get done again.
HAPPY: Bloody hell Danny! I just can’t wait to see the Dogs run out today! Remember we beat
them last year up here in the rain?
DANNY: Yeah, that’s when they had Bob Murphy playing and Franklin only kicked three goals.
Who’s out for the Swans?
HAPPY: Ah, let’s see. I think Tippett is the main one. And Ted Richards is still not playing.
DANNY: Is that all? I told you, we’re stuffed! ( pause) If that coffee isn’t here in five minutes I
might as well cancel the order.
HAPPY: I just hope we get good seats. If the Dogs win well today, they might be back in the top
four. ( pause) Anyway, here comes your coffee. Drink up and we’ll catch a taxi. And
don’t worry, it’ll be my shout. I just want to get there early!
ACT 2 SCENE 1
THE BREWONGLE STAND, SYDNEY CRICKET GROUND, 4.PM
NARRATOR: Our two protagonists are taking their seats just before the first bounce. HAPPY is all smiles and expectant as he watches the Bulldogs finish their pre-game warm-up and head for the change-rooms. DANNY is not so happy complaining about the view and being surrounded by Swan’s supporters. He is convinced the Bulldogs are going to lose badly. When the ball is finally bounced, HAPPY and DANNY will expect their predictions to come true after the lead changes several times throughout the match. It will take until the final siren before DANNY will decide if his trip to Sydney would be worth it.
So let the match begin…
HAPPY would have been pleased with the Bulldog start especially seeing Jason Johannisen and Clay Smith moving so well after long absences. Especially Clay Smith following his three knee reconstructions. DANNY on the other hand would be ready to let fly with a ‘ told you so’ at the lack of marking by the tall-forwards as the Bulldogs just bomb the ball into the forward- line.
Then the Buddy Franklin show started to crank up with his first goal after about fifteen minutes. Fortunately he only kicked points later in the quarter and it was McVeigh who kicked the only other goal for the Swans. Stringer was trying to impose himself on the match, so much so, he ran from the centre to the fifty-metre line without bouncing the ball and was penalised. Rampe did an excellent job after racing through the goals and then to avoid pushing the female goal-umpire into the fence. It wasn’t so much his gallantry that caught the eye of spectators, but the care shown in knowing where to place his hands around the umpire to ensure she didn’t fall. He could easily have ended up as a sensation on You-tube if he had missed her waist by just a few centimetres.
In the second quarter the Bont made his move after a quiet start and kicked a goal after a lucky free-kick. Then his audacious partner -in- crime Stringer awoke from his slumber and curved the ball through the goals, followed by his trademark burst through the pack for another one. Hunter did his best to stop the Bulldog’s momentum by kicking across his defensive goal where it was marked by Franklin, who then passed to Parker for a goal. An even quarter with four goals kicked by both sides.
Parker kicked the first goal of the third quarter but then it became the Tom Liberatore show. He started with passes to Stringer and Redpath for goals and then kicked a goal himself after Clay Smith extracted the ball from a pack. He extracted the ball from a pack himself soon after to kick his second goal. The whole Bulldog team lifted their intensity, attacked the ball in packs, increased their tackle count, kicking six goals to two for the quarter.
A thirteen point lead is never enough for DANNY and most Bulldog supporters at the start of a last quarter. Especially when the Swans have a dominant forward in Buddy Franklin. It was either the presence of the footy- gods or a Hannebery brain- fade that allowed Will Minson to kick the first goal. Hannebery decided to return the ball to the umpire instead of player Minson after a free-kick, which allowed Minson to kick a goal from about forty metres out. Buddy loomed as the match-winner with a fifty-metre goal and another one right in front after easily out-reaching Adams to mark. And then there was the grand-finale which involved three young Bulldog players rather than veterans such as Morris and Boyd. Apart from the fact they created a miraculous win at the death, even the DANNYS of this world would acknowledge that these three players will be part of a group that will one day lead the Bulldogs to a premiership. Daniel to Bontempelli who short-passed to Johannisen who was in a better position to goal. And calmly goal he did to win the match by four points.
The two actors at the beginning of this play represent different ways that Bulldog supporters think about the past, present and future of the Club. Danny and mainly older supporters still aren’t convinced that the Club will win a premiership soon and the Danny from Droop Street character has become the gloomy, pessimistic figure on the Coodabeen’s program accordingly. But if social media is any guide, Happy and the optimists are starting to get the numbers in the house, to use a current analogy. It might be a case of young people who dominate Facebook recognising that it is the younger players at the Bulldogs who are leading the way to a premiership. They will be more convinced than ever after watching the last two minutes of play against Sydney on Saturday.
Bulldogs 1.2 5.3 11.4 13.5 83
Swans 2.5 6.7 8.9 11.13 79
Bulldogs: Stringer 3, Liberatore 2, Johannisen, Redpath, Roughead, Hunter, Jong, Bontempelli, Biggs, Minson
Swans: Franklin 5, Parker 3, Sinclair, Hewett, McVeigh
Bulldogs: Hunter, Bontempelli, Liberatore, Boyd, Picken, Johannisen
Swans: Parker, Franklin, McVeigh, Hannebery, Kennedy, Mills
Umpires: Schmitt, Stevic, Findlay, Fisher
Official crowd: 33,386
Our Votes: 3 Parker (S) 2 Hunter (WB) 1 Franklin (S)