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Round 4 – Western Bulldogs v Sydney: The moment

Western Bulldogs v Sydney

4:35PM, 14 April 2018

Etihad Stadium, Docklands

 

 

We all have that one ‘moment’ that hooks us to becoming lifelong Swans fans. That ‘moment’ that makes the hair on the back of our necks stand up. That ‘moment’ that catapults us out of our seat. That ‘moment’ where we feel part of a tribe. That ‘moment’ that seals our fate. I think my young scallywags Jack (aged 6) and Harry (aged 3) may have just had their ‘moment’.

 

 

Swans cling to a one-point lead as we tick into the last minute. Florent gathers on the AFL logo and sets off like he stole something. English, the seven-foot Bulldogs ruckman, gives chase. Run son. Run! A match race as the Punters hold their breath. Lungs bursting, Florent zigs and zags out of his lane, English refuses to relent. We can’t watch. We can’t not watch. English lunges. With his last morsel of energy Florent drops the Sherrin onto his boot. The Sherrin spins, spins and spins. The Swans fortunes hang in the air. Time stands still…GOAL!!!! The ‘moment’.

 

 

My ‘moment’ was at the SCG in Round 16, 1987. As an impressionable nine year-old the Dodson family made the trek from Wagga Wagga in the VH Commodore Wagon – a time long ago when cars were actually made in Australia. My brother Brett was playing in the mini-league. I don’t remember much of his two handballs (yet, I still hang it on him) but I’ve never forgot the moment Steve Wright kicked eight and we belted the Eagles 201 to 71. The noise. The electricity. The smell of KB Lager. Every second bloke wearing a pair of Stubbies that were two sizes too small. The Doug Walters Stand! That song that belted out after every goal:

 

 

“Show’em you’re Sydney, Show’em you’re the Swans, Show’em you’re the winners, you’re the mighty Swans. You Show’em Sydney!

 

 

After singing that song after every one of our 30 goals, it remains burned in my memory. Anyone who went to see the Swans in the `80s will remember it.

 

 

As the Scallywags, Mrs D, uncle Brett and I made the short trek from Seddon to Etihad I had no inkling that today would be a ‘moment’ day. Truth be known I was just hoping the Scallywags would make it to three quarter time.

 

 

As I enter the precinct I set off for the Swans member services tent to collect my 2018 cap. I have not been in a line this big since waiting to get into the Tunnel nightclub back in 1997. Unlike that night it’s safe to say I won’t be coming home (alone) reeking of cigarette smoke, slurring my speech, take six minutes to get the key in the door and have no idea where my wallet is.

 

 

I love my Swans cap. You see, I have a receding hairline (yes, bald). I need my Swans cap. A bald man clings to his cap like someone lost at sea clings to a life raft. It keeps the sun off my head, makes people from a distance think I’m possibly in my early 30s and lets me show what tribe I belong to. If Mrs D hadn’t told me red and white clashed with a black tux I may well have got married in my Swans cap.

 

 

Each year my cap is weathered with the perspiration of a season’s victories and defeats. Every cap tells a story. What adventures will I have with my freshly minted 2018 model?

 

 

We take up our seats on level 1, row J, near the 50 arc at the Swans end. I love sitting close to the action. If I can’t smell the Deep Heat then I’m not happy. Jack is given four warnings for kicking the seat in front of us before a ball is bounced.

 

 

It is a sight to see the Dodson tribe decked out in red and white. Living 1km from Whitten Oval, it is a constant battle to win the Scallywags over. 93% of houses in the Western Suburbs are still displaying some sort of 2016 Grand Final paraphernalia on their weatherboards. I lost the boys to the Dogs last year. A long summer of bribery and threats has got them back on board for 2018. This is a HIGH STAKES game.

 

 

It is hard yards being the sole Swan in Footscray. Perhaps I could start a crowdfunding campaign to get a nice three bedder in Coogee? Apparently, the median house price is $3.1 Million. If each of our 60,000 members kicked in $51.66 I can get there! Please send all donations care of the Sydney Swans Office.

 

 

Gee, Aliir Aliir has hit the weights since I last saw him. I wonder if he still has the spring and athleticism? Good to see him back. We need some dare of half-back I think.

 

 

We are chasing Bulldog tail for most of the first half. The Bulldogs kick two out of their backside from row F of the stands and the lead gets out to 20. I am concerned. Young English in the ruck is handy and Johannisen always seems to be in space when he gets the pill. Parker is sure of hand and foot and Papley can sniff a goal from anywhere.

 

 

I’m not sure poor old Dean Towers is even six foot, yet he is asked to play as a second ruckman. It reminds me of a time (pre Mrs D) when I tried to chat up Livinia Nixon at the Royal Melbourne Show – all courage and effort, yet hopelessly underqualified for the task at hand.

 

 

Heeney goals to make it 10 points at the main break.

 

 

As the Dodson tribe munch on fish and chips the Swans hit their stride. We pile on six straight. Buddy finally breaks free of Wood, Heeney is crashing packs and Towers takes a screamer. The momentum is irresistible.

 

 

The Scallywags are immersed in the action. No demands for Mrs D’s phone or sugary treats. They are cheering as loudly as their diminutive frames will allow. Harry is fist pumping at a year 10 level and Jack is out of his seat.

 

 

It seems momentum in footy doesn’t last long these days. The Bulldogs bite back. Their run and spread makes us look slow. There is noting in this as we hit the last 10 minutes.

 

 

Macca is brilliant in rallying the troops and Jones provides some much needed zip out of defence (us baldies stick together). The game hangs in the balance. Jack asks me why I’m bitting on my nails? I try valiantly to not drop any four-letter words as the Doggies win a few ‘interesting’ free kicks.

 

 

Young Dunkley (son of a gun) makes a fatal error by playing on in the goal square, then Dahlhaus goals to get them to a point back shortly after. We are in trouble…

 

 

The ball flies out of the pack into Florent’s hands and the rest they say is history. The ‘moment’. Uncle Brett is hoisting Jack into the air. Mrs D and Harry are embracing. I’m just watching. Taking it all in. I wish you could bottle this stuff.

 

 

We talk footy all the way home and even in the morning the Scallywags are still talking about that Florent ‘moment’. Well played young man, you may just have created a memory that lasts a lifetime, not only for yourself, but for my two little growing men.

 

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS                       5.3       7 7.      9.10.   13.8 (86)
SYDNEY                                                  4.0       6.3       10.4     11.13 (79)

GOALS
Western Bulldogs: Dickson 2, Bontempelli 2, Redpath, Gowers, Jong, Dale, Wallis, Daniel, Dahlhaus
Sydney: Franklin 3, Parker 3, Papley 2, Heeney 2, Cunningham, Towers, Florent

BEST
Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Suckling, Dunkley, Bontempelli, Dahlhaus
Sydney: Franklin, Rampe, Parker, Heeney, McVeigh, Hannebery, Papley

Crowd: 28,058

About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.

Comments

  1. Keiran Croker says:

    Love it Craig. Glad to see your boys have come back from the dark side. I assume that the Buddy doll has been resurrected. I’m glad too that young Ollie Florent kept running and dobbed that memorable goal, as Horse would have preferred he had held it up and milked the clock. It’s great to see young players back themselves.

  2. Tom Bally says:

    Great write up Craig. ‘The Moment’ was brilliant. Haven’t yelled that triumphantly at my TV for a while!

  3. Ross Treverton says:

    My ‘moment’ came when l was already a dyed in the wool Swan, but a Swan bereft of hope after years of disappointment- a bit like being a Carlton supporter these days…
    I have a few years on you Craig (probably on most Swan Almancers apart from Jan!) with the 60’s and early 70’s being my formative years. Apart from dizzy heights of 1970, the Swans were invariably down near the bottom of the ladder and l think l was 6 years of age before l realised that the name of my team was not ‘poor old South’!
    In 1975 we won only 2 games; both against Geelong. We were drawn to play them in the opening round of 1976 at the Lake Oval. On the back of a board takeover by Just Jeans magnate, Craig Kimberley, the season brought forth expectation instead of hope – we would beat Geelong and for at least one glorious week, we would be in the top half of the ladder.
    I still remember walking into the ground at half time of the seconds. They were already 19 goals up ( with one G. Teasdale dominating) and would go on to kick 35! Unheard of and just reinforced the shellacking our firsts were about to dish out. Which of course they didn’ t….poor old South. A goal feast of some 50 odd goals resulted in an 8 point (l think..) win to the Cats.
    The next week the family ventured out to Victoria Park to see our boys take on Collingwood. Arrogant, wealthy, successful Collingwood. They were everything we weren’t, but there was never any suggestion we wouldn’t go. No matter what the ground, what the position on the ladder, what the weather, we would always go – look up ‘loyal’ in the dictionary, and there’s a picture of our family (same picture under ‘pigheaded’). But on this magical day, the Swans beat the Pies on their own turf! We sang the song (not the ‘87 version) all the way down Hoddle St, Punt Rd, Brighton Rd, Nepean Highway and Beach Rd until we got to Sandringham. We sang at red lights, stop signs, boom gates and traffic jams. We just sang! It was a moment when l could finally believe. It was ‘my moment’.

    ‘…sets off like he stole something…’ – just brilliant Craig. Cheer, cheer…

  4. craig dodson says:

    Cheers Kc an tb

    Brilliant story ross, thanks for sharing. By chance you wouldn’t remember a player named Neville miller running around in the 70s..he is my uncle. So many blokes from wagga and the riverina ended up at south in that time with zones.

  5. Ross Treverton says:

    ‘Nifty’ Neville Miller. Played full-forward. Wore No. 13. Described by Carlton legendary full-back Geoff Southby as a ‘tricky’ opponent. Given the ball wasn’t in our forward line that much, it was a pretty good compliment!
    Hope l’ve got the right bloke!!

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