Round 2 – Western Bulldogs v Sydney: Recipe: Grand Final Replay Chocolate Cake with Cherry on Top
Recipe: Grand Final Replay Chocolate Cake with Cherry on Top
by Bernie Brown
You will need:
One long awaited Premiership flag unfurled, carried proudly around the boundary by an inspired assortment of Bulldogs from regular supporters to club legends, rich and poor. All Bulldog brothers and sisters. Tears well up one more time. One dribbles down your cheek. You don’t care. You’ve cried a few times these last six months. You’re only human after all. Besides, it’s good for your eyes.
One rivalry with a team you actually admire. Someone like the Swans, the Bloods, your best mate’s team. Starved for success themselves for years. Kicked around and relocated. It wouldn’t be the same if it was the Hawks or Bombers or Blues or Pies. They speak a different language and have a different story. I’m glad it’s the Swans. I can relate to them. Their supporters have pride and humility, forged in the lean years, the decades of loyalty and longing. Three great games in the last two years. Could this be another?
One blazing start by the proud Bloods determined to avenge their Grand Final loss – Sam Reid on fire – Swans up by 25. ‘What the?’ Then the Dogs get in the match, stem the bleeding and hit the scoreboard. The margin is 7 points at ¼ time. That’s better.
One slow and steady enthralling arm wrestle of a 2nd quarter. Travis Cloke is getting plenty of the ball. Dogs by 8 at the half.
One solid third quarter by the Dogs who get out to a 28 point lead throughout the term. The Swans look done. Dogs are on top. A lull in intensity. It feels like one more goal will shut the gate but we can’t get it. Then a turn over.
One late goal by Buddy Superman gets the margin back to a gettable 22 at ¾ time – bugger.
I’m looking at the scoreboard doing the maths in my head. We’re four goals up. We should be right. We’re on top. Swans aren’t looking likely. They need four to catch us and we’re sure to kick a couple which means they’ll need at least six which seems unlikely. A couple of goals and we’re home. Relax. And besides, we’re reigning premiers remember. I’m not stressing at the footy ever again. This year I’m just kicking back and loving every moment. Let Bevo worry about it.
One last Quarter that takes it to another level.
‘Come on Doggies – let’s get the first goal.’
The Swans have a sniff and have lifted. Superman bombs another typical beauty from 50 – a few minutes in. Dogs 16 points up. Mmm I don’t like the look of this.
Then another, a few minutes later, from about 60. Copybook Buddy – he marks and plays on, swings onto the left and it sails through. Dogs by ten. The momentum has shifted. The Swans believe. Heads are up. They’re not done. They’re the Bloods. What was I thinking?
Swans fans are making plenty of noise. It’s turning into a game to remember. I try out my new radio and headphones again but it’s blocking out too much stadium noise. I love the commentary but can’t have it all. I want to soak this atmosphere up. I put the radio in my bag and leave it there.
Go away Buddy – crikey – he’s got it again – and he’s in the same spot and he’s… he’s… (miss! miss!) put it through. Bloody hell. This is serious.
Dogs by four.
A few minutes later Sam Reid kicks his sixth and the Bloods have hit the front. The stadium is rocking and rolling.
But wait – there’s more!
The never-surrender, never-say-die Doggies dig deep. Of course they do. Liam Picken leads the way. With an amazing gut busting lung bursting sprint, Picken clears the ball from centre half back then reappears 15 seconds later to receive it deep on the forward flank. He turns, pauses and looks in board then bombs it to the goal square. The Bont has loped forward too, busting his guts. He’s stuffed, like a knackered racehorse in the Cup, pushing himself through the pain to get there, and he’s still ten metres from the drop zone. The ball falls – The Bont finds something, he closes in – he gets there – he jumps and marks in front of the Swan waiting there like a shag on a rock – and puts it through! Pandemonium reigns.
And suddenly we’re in the dream zone. We’re there – in the flow. It’s so good it’s transcendent. It’s sublime. It takes us beyond all the mess of this crazy hopeless world. The players are rooted, but for the fans – The Bloods and Doggies are dancing, sparring, boxing in footy dreamtime, playing it out in footy heaven. It was always someone else who did this, but now it’s us. This is footy la la land.
For a moment you don’t even care who wins the game because you know it’s all going to be okay and you can’t win them all anyway. You’re just happy to see your team play like this, proud to know they can be this good. With a rival to bring out the best in them.
But there’s one more ingredient…
It wouldn’t be footy without an umpiring decision just to snap us out of dreamworld. This time it’s a dodgy call on Callum Mills in the goal square. They’ll be talking about this one all week. Was he under pressure? Did he do enough to keep it in? What can a backman do these days? Maybe he could have punched it to the left, or grabbed it and kicked it left or right. But then, if it had gone over the boundary line, would he have got pinged for deliberate out of bounds? Now that would have been interesting! I hate these grey areas, these umpire mind-reading zones. Can we do something about that?
But don’t forget the cherry on top!
Jake Stringer grabs it in the centre, dodges and sprints like blazes. Then boots… from inside the square. He hits the sweet spot. It’s goes the distance. It’s there! Awesome. Amazing. Gob-smackingly brilliant.
And just like that it’s Dogs by 16. We’re home. You take a breath. Wow.
Now THAT was a game of footy !
Well done Doggies. Bravo Bloods. Let’s meet again in footy Dreamtime sometime soon.