AFL Round 12 – Western Bulldogs v Brisbane: How do I hate thee…let me count the ways

Western Bulldogs versus Brisbane

7.40pm, Saturday, 7th June

Etihad Stadium


Neil Anderson




Chrissy Amphlett from the Divinyls reminded us in her own provocative way that there is a fine line between pleasure and pain. Very appropriate for supporters of struggling teams as they see another match or season flittered away after some chance occurrence on the field.  St Kilda  supporters knew all about it after watching the ball bounce at right angles away from Stephen Milne in a final. And it was definitely evident when Libba thought he had kicked that goal in the 1997 Preliminary Final.

The other ‘fine-line’ of emotions for football- supporters is between hate and envy.

There has been some discussion recently on the Almanac about our allegiance to a ‘second’ team. Footscray was always one of the favourites as a ‘second’ team. Excuse my cynicism, but I think it was nominated by supporters of the successful teams because Footscray was seen as harmless as those teams racked up even more premierships. As long as Footscray stayed near the bottom of the ladder and didn’t get too uppity by playing finals- footy, it was usually a case of ‘good old Scrays and I hope they do well this year’.

As the Bulldogs take on the Lions tonight I have reflected on the Lion’s history and wondered which side of the fence I’ll fall by the end of the night. Will I hate the Lions or just envy them?

I’m fairly sure if the Bulldogs win, it will be a case of less of the hate and more envy of the Brisbane Lion’s success in winning those premierships a decade ago.

I never hated or even envied the Lions when they were known as Fitzroy. On the contrary, Footscray and Fitzroy were more like brothers- in- arms rather than enemies. Along with the likes of South Melbourne, North Melbourne and St Kilda, they made up the bottom-four sides in the VFL for decades.

Footscray sounded like Fitzroy.  They ended up sharing the Western Oval and were about to be joined in holy- merger by the Reverend Ross Oakley until the Footscray faithful demanded the proposed marriage be annulled. Fitzroy were then left at the altar for a few more years.

No-one envied let alone hated Fitzroy as the new Brisbane Bears because other teams would happily pencil-in a win against them when the fixtures came out.

The renamed Brisbane Lions were a different story and re-awoke feelings of hate and envy. They had a fortress at the Gabba which became known as the  ‘Gabbatoir’. By the end of the nineties they had a built a formidable team with the ‘fab-four’ mid-field, a young giant full-forward and a coach who was the player of the century as they headed for premiership glory.

That giant young forward comes from my family’s home town of Warrnambool. There is a huge mural of Jonathon Brown painted on the wall of the Cally Hotel similar to the paintings of Rugby-League stars on the Sydney hotels.  Next door is the hairdresser appropriately named ‘ Men Only’. Browny’s town, Browny’s pub, Browny’s barber. Yeah! The only thing that destroys this macho image is the name of the street. It’s called Fairy Street.

No-one could ever hate Browny but everyone would envy him when he was in full-flight. If only he had moved from the Geelong Falcons down the road to Footscray instead of Brisbane, the Bulldogs may have turned those prelim-finals into Grand Finals.

The other old Lion who no-one hated and everyone admired was Kevin Murray. With a couple of tatts before they were fashionable, no teeth and a back-brace plus a nickname of ‘Bulldog’, what was not to like. He carried his team through lean times just as Ted Whitten had done with Footscray.

Envy tipped over into hate when Brisbane won three premierships in row when my own team had been waiting forty-seven years to win their next flag at that stage. The hate was directed more towards the way the AFL competition was run allowing this to happen. Not unlike today’s competition that introduced ‘expansion’ teams at the expense of struggling smaller clubs. The forlorn hope of any team having a 50/50 chance of winning on ‘any given Sunday’ is still just a pipe-dream.

As usual I watch the Bulldogs warm- up just before they run onto the ground looking for signs that they might be fired up for the contest. The players are quiet and serious which is not a good look. I wonder what it must be like to barrack for Geelong, Hawthorn or Port Adelaide at the moment, where as a supporter you could relax before the start of each match, knowing you had a ninety- percent chance of winning. In sixty odd years of following the Bulldogs, I’ve never had that luxury.

It may be a false dawn, but new recruit Nathan Hrovat goals after forty seconds and our great white-hope Williams uninjured and playing two games in a row gets the next one.

Beams goals for Brisbane before Captain Griffen goals for the Dogs. All eyes are on Griffen after a quiet match last week and if ever they needed run on the outside, this was the match for Griff  to stand up. Especially with the likes of Zorko , Aish and Green lurking, ready to show him how it’s done.

The Bulldogs won the first quarter by a small margin so there was slightly more pleasure than pain, but of course being a Bulldog supporter, I braced myself for the quarter where they usually go missing.

I didn’t have to wait long.

The second quarter was all pain mixed with a large dose of despair. Seven goals to two and being thrashed by the then bottom side.  I could barely keep up with the names of the Brisbane goal-kickers but Redden got a couple, Bewick and of course Zorko full of confidence provided great run and goaled. The Bulldogs had no outside-run and with no functioning forward- line, they were swamped and out-played in every aspect of the game.

The third quarter was a stalemate and the commentators  were talking up the game and the possibility of a comeback for the Bulldogs. They were telling the gullible audience that the quarter was virtually a win for the Dogs even though they trailed by more than they did in the second quarter!  Hardened Bulldog supporters would have seen through that load of cobblers.

The last quarter was a futile attempt by the Dogs to bridge the gap when it was all too late. Relying on the super-sub Gia (again), no-one able to take marks on the forward-line and three kickable goals missed, led to a horrible conclusion. The Bulldogs were completely outplayed by the bottom team and supporters have nothing to look forward to for the rest of the season.

Instead of wasting my energy hating or envying the opposition I have turned my attention to the inner-workings of the Western Bulldogs because something is drastically wrong with this Club. Like every other member, I will be demanding to know from the President and the coach, why this team is so dysfunctional when the Club played in a preliminary-final only four years ago.

Western Bulldogs:  5.3  7.5  9.5  13.9  (87)

Brisbane Lions:       4.3  11.8  13.9  14.11 (95)


WB:  Hrovat 2, Williams 2, Giansiracusa 2, Tutt, Picken, Wood, Crameri, Grant, Cooney

BL:  Redden 2, Brown 2, Green 2, Beams, Patfull, Aish, Bewick, Zorko, Rockcliff, Paparone, Hanley


WB:  Macrae, Wallis, Liberatore, Dahlhaus, Cooney

BL:  Bewick, Zorko, Hanley, Redden, Martin, Patfull, Taylor

Umpires:  Fleer, Rosebury, O’Gorman

Official crowd:  18, 054

Our Votes:  3 Bewick (BL)  2 Zorko (BL)  1 Macrae (WB)





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.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Dear Neil,

    I am feeling your pain. Doggies supporters seemed to have run to the end of their patience and find little to sustain them. All I can say is enjoy watching the young. You will always have the witnessing of the one and that has to sustain you until Doggies one day get the next. Your team has a wonderful Club culture, they are breeding many future father son picks, and your team represents a whole western side of Melbourne that need something to dream about. You have terrific events hosting the womens football teams and are involved with the international games. I love how your Club run, their community committment is awesome. This alone will help sustain you until the “crays have more success onfield.

    Be well


  2. Neil Anderson says

    Thank you Yvette.
    I’ve just read your story about the Saints Versus Port Adelaide and you’ve given me a good lesson in staying positive.
    I particularly like the way you get on with life and not dwell on the negatives. Meeting up with other mad Sainters by chance is a real bonus as you get out and about.
    I will try and look more for those uplifting moments on the field like you do rather than dwell on the future of the Club. As they say, that will take care of itself.
    Thanks again for your comments.

  3. matt watson says

    Hey Neil,
    Allow me to hate the Brisbane Lions for the both of us.
    I live in Brisbane too.
    Brisbane is vitally important to the AFL, so expect them to be propped up, injected with cash and forced to win another premiership.
    It will probably happen long before the Bulldogs, or Melbourne or St Kilda or Richmond win a premiership.
    That’s the way the AFL wanted it back in 2001-04.
    This decade will be no different.
    Stay positive and good luck.

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