AFL – Round 1: Western Bulldogs v Brisbane Lions: A time of faith, forgiveness…and revenge

We’re a hardy lot us Almanackers. Why would I actually volunteer to write a report for the Round 1 Bulldogs V Lions match? The same Lions who have just won the NAB Cup and beat the Bulldogs by 67 points last time they met. Why raise my head above the parapets after the Dogs have been tipped to finish third last and this morning the dreaded betting agencies had us as wooden-spooners?

My despondency lifted slightly when I read the team listing. A good combination of small, medium and talls. Just a niggling doubt about the young talls which I had even post-match, but I was confident in the rest of the line-up.

And then any ‘woe is me’ Bulldog supporter thoughts vanished completely after reading the morning paper. I read the article about Dale Morris and his recovery from a broken leg. It was more the story of Dale and his wife who nursed and cared for him during his months of being bed-ridden. Then Dale became the carer for his wife as she struggled with her difficult pregnancy.

And so I had my answer to why I have supported the Bulldogs for nearly sixty years with one premiership to their name. It is the quality of the people involved with the Club including our new President who has returned to save the Club again and convince us supporters to hang in there a bit longer for success.

So Easter Saturday has arrived and thanks to Dale Morris I’m feeling proud of the boys even before they run onto the ground. Just the tiniest hint of concern as I remember Robbo on Foxtel giving his doomsday scenario, hoping at least the Bulldogs don’t get blown away in their first match.

With the extended family visiting for Easter, I still managed to get pole position on the couch. Probably because I bagged the spot two hours earlier when I warmed the telly and cooled the tinnies.

Unfortunately my extended family are non-believers and don’t believe in footy gods like I do so they created a lot of disinterested white-noise as I strained to check out the vibe as the Bulldogs ran onto the ground. Have they turned up ready to play? Are they ready to go? The usual questions a normal person would be concerned with after five months without real football.

The football non-believers were more interested in another God and were busy scanning the local paper to find out the church service times for Easter Sunday.

The last shreds of negativity and fears of a blow-out disappeared in the first quarter. No need to worry. The boys were on! It was a beautiful thirty minutes. I was proud and feeling so benign. I no longer heard the noise coming from the non-believers. It was a combination of old and new players each playing their role, not missing goals and not hitting the post with their first few shots. In my bad old negative days, hitting the post early in a match was the first sign that we were gone!

Second quarter I braced myself for the Lion’s comeback. It did come but it was brief. That man who monstered us last year Daniel Rich bobbed up with two goals but that was all. I felt like I was dreaming as the Dogs piled on more goals as that wonderful intangible called ‘confidence’ kicked in.

Something not seen since Barry Hall helped us win the NAB Cup a few years ago and personified today as Bob Murphy slotted a goal from five rows back.

The second half of the match was a repeat of the first with more goals kicked from old and new players with the final score leaving the commentators and pundits stunned.

At this time of forgiveness and as I watched the players walk around the boundary thanking the fans, my non-believing Lutheran son-in-law handed me a South Australian Coopers Pale Ale stubby. What could I do but be gracious and accept, particularly in my current state of euphoria. I did make a request to him that would never speak of this again but it turned out to be the best tasting beer I’ve had in about three years.

Western Bulldogs:  6.1  10.5  16.9  19.13  (127)

Brisbane Lions:      0.6  3.10   5.14  7.17   (59)

Goals:  Bulldogs: Giansiracusa 3, Higgins 3, Cordy 2, Dahlhaus 2, Griffin 2, Murphy 2, Dickson 2, Cooney, Johannisen, Jones.

Lions: Cornelius, Moloney, Beams, Rich, Brown, Redden, Martin.

Best:  Bulldogs: Goodes, Dickson, Lower, Minson, Johannisen, Higgins, Murphy, Roughead.

Lions:      Rockliff, Moloney.

Umpires:   Dalgleish, Findlay, Margetts.

Our votes: Minson (WB) 3, Goodes (WB) 2, Higgins (WB) 1.

About Neil Anderson

Enjoys reading and writing about the Western Bulldogs. Instead of wondering if the second premiership will ever happen, he can now bask in the glory of the 2016 win.

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