AFL Round 14 – Melbourne v Western Bulldogs: Trying to repeat the past

When the Almanac Admin asked me to select a match to write a report I chose this one thinking it would be a positive outcome for the Bulldogs. Then I remembered I was well qualified to write about these two teams anyway after observing them over a sixty-year period.

After all, I was there when Demons were kings and kept the usurpers at bay throughout the 1950’s and early 1960’s.

At that time challengers came from Collingwood, Footscray and then Hawthorn winning their first premiership.

All Clubs challenging were just blips on the Demon’s radar as they won six premierships in ten years.

And then it all stopped just like it did for the Bulldogs. Fifty years ago next year for the Demons and sixty years ago for the Bulldogs.

Your reporter was embedded at the MCG on that glorious day in September 1954 when the Bulldogs took the crown.

I can recall the names and numbers of both Bulldog and Demon players from that era better than names from later decades, such was the impact of seeing my ‘local’ suburban team win the premiership.

“Give me a child at seven who witnesses his team win a premiership and I will show you the man sixty years later still looking for the second one.”

Not sure if that’s a quote from the Jesuits or Guru Bob from the Coodabeens, but you get my drift.

After that famous victory and heading home to Footscray, I saw my first drunken men. They were pouring out of Powell’s Hotel on the corner of Gordon Street and Ballarat Road, flushed-faced and swigging from long-necked bottles. The working class had triumphed over the blue-bloods!

Coming from a sober household there was no such carry-on when father and son arrived home. My mother and nine year-old sister had baked a sponge-cake for our celebrations ready to be washed down with cordial and soft-drink.

The message on the cake written with the icing-gun earlier in the day reflected what most people thought the outcome of the match would be. It said, “Bad luck Footscray you did your best.”

David King from Fox Footy uses a great expression when an up and coming team is about to face the Sydney Swans. He says they’re about to undergo an ‘audit’.

I can just imagine finance-guru and Port Power President David Koch last week revelling in the fact that his books have been reconciled and all arrows on the finance-graphs are heading north.

So at the end of this match I will audit the Bulldogs’ and Demons’ current status for 2013 and decide if a prospectus is worth publishing for 2014 for either team.

Jay Gatsby was told by his friend that you can’t repeat the past. He may have been right, but I’m secretly hoping that the final score today will be at least close to the 1954 result when the Bulldogs won by 51 points.

Both teams are on the gound and I should be relaxed about a Bulldogs likely win. But I’m not. I can sense the footy-gods who haven’t messed with the Bulldogs for a while are about to strike.

They engineered a change of coach at Melbourne recently which means the Demons are likely to get up against their next opponents. They didn’t quite beat St Kilda so are they saving it all for the Bulldogs?

The first quarter confirms my worry. Players like Jack Watts who looked like he wasn’t trying a few weeks ago is suddenly full of enthusiasm for the game. He’s actually marking the ball and kicking goals! Where did this come from! Well done footy-gods! You’ve stored this one up beautifully just for today!

None of the Bulldog forwards are marking the ball and kicking goals. Well, Ayce Cordy did once and then disappeared.

The commentators are finally agreeing with me and saying the two tall forwards Cordy and Jones have been a failure after five years of development.

The second and third quarters are more of the same, particularly the Bulldogs inability to kick goals.

By now the Demons are full of confidence and can smell a victory. Tall gangly ruckmen in their first year of AFL are kicking goals from the boundary-line.

I’m feeling sick and depressed. After all that reminiscing about the glorious victory so long ago in 1954 and now it feels like we’re going backwards.

Maybe you can’t repeat the past but it doesn’t mean the present has to be so much worse!

When the Bulldogs are being beaten by a bottom team I feel embarrassed. It’s irrational because it’s not my fault but it’s just the way I feel as a member of the Club.

There’s also that dread of walking to the local shops where I’m known as ‘the only Bulldog supporter in the village’ and facing the angry tipsters with thier snarls of, ” What happened to your mob today?”

The last quarter and I’m cursing about my obligation to write a report on this match. I’d love to do a storm outside in disgust with a hefty slam of the door for good measure. The trouble is it’s a waste of time to display all that angst and noise if there’s no-one there to hear and see you. The non-believers have already well and truely left the building.

The commentators are saying ridiculous things like, ” If the Bulldogs can kick a couple of goals in a row, it will be game on here!” Give me a break!

All ready to hit the mute button to ease the pain when suddenly…the Bulldogs kick two goals in a row! I’ll just leave the sound on a bit longer.

We probably won’t win but hopefully it won’t be the fifty-point plus defeat I was dreading being inflicted by the second-bottom team.

The Bulldogs kick nine goals in the last quarter after six only in the first three quarters to lose by just three points. The commentators are more excited than anyone after getting a close-finishing match for the viewers.

The Melbourne supporters are learning how to breathe again, deliriously happy and re-checking the score-board just to make sure they’re not dreaming.

They ‘nearly stole the match’ doesn’t cut it with me. The first three quarters were as bad as I’ve seen this year. There are a handful of players who must go back and find form with Williamstown because they are just passengers at the moment. It feels like we have eighteen players instead of twenty- two when this happens.

And as far as the audit is concerned, Melbourne’s stocks and outlook for the future is far more bullish than two hours ago. They have a good mix of talls and mid-fielders with Clark and Viney still to return.

The Bulldogs will have to recruit well at the end of the year before I can think about publishing a prospectus for 2014. They will have to make hard decisions about those project players who are letting the side down. They must get an established key forward and recruit more speed for the outside of packs. Thanks to Libba and a couple of others, the ball gets extracted OK but nothing good happens after that.

I was lucky enough to be there when Footscray exorcised those Demons back in 1954 but unfortunately they couldn’t quite do it today. The past simply couldn’t be repeated.


1954 Grand Final Score:

Footscray 15.12 (102) defeated Melbourne 7.9 (51)

Best : Kerr(F) Whitten (F) Collins (F)

Crowd: 80,897 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.


Today’s Match:

Melbourne:  3.5  8.8  12.12  15.13  (103)

W.Bulldogs  2.2  4.6  6.9  15.10  (100)


Melbourne: Watts 4, Dawes 3, Fitzpatrick 2, Howe 2, Jones, Gawn, Rodan, Blease.

W.Bulldogs: Giansiracusa 3, Griffin 3, Cooney 3, Cordy 2, Macrae, Dahlhaus, Minson, Dickson.


Melbourne: Terlich, Trengrove, Jones, McDonald, Watts, Frawley, Clisby.

W. Bulldogs: Liberatore, Murphy, Giansiracusa, Minson, Griffen, Macrae.

Umpires: Ryan, Ryan, Mollison.

Official Crowd: 21,217

Our Votes: 3 Liberatore (WB) 2 Jones (M) 1 Griffen (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. cowshedend says

    Neil, the home baked sponge cake with ‘Bad Luck Footscray,you did your best’is pure gold.
    I reckon Plares or Herbert Adams in Footscray could have had a template made for every one of us poor souls to mark a myriad of birthdays.
    Also the fact it was pessimistically pre-iced is pure ‘Donny from Droop street’

  2. Cowshedend, did this defeat hurt as much as when Melbourne beat you in 1981. That wa stheir sole victory for the year, by the margin of 1point. i don’t count their victory over youse in the night match when Kelvin Templeton wrecked his knee. At least when they beat you last weekend, they’d already taken the 4 points over GWS.


  3. Kerrie soraghan says

    Neil this is a gem. I didn’t think I could raise a laugh about Saturday but the pre iced cake story has made my day.

    I’m envious that you saw the premiership glory but glad that you captured it for the rest of us. As I’ve written before it was my mums 2nd match and so she jumped on board. What a momentous decision for the rest of us.

    It really was a wretched evening but I appreciate that even though you drew the short straw in being assigned this one for a write up you’ve captured it beautifully.


  4. cowshedend says

    Glen, had to check that game in 81′,dogs only won 2 for the year themselves, beat the Dees in the Reverse singles and the Bombres at home.
    Bring back ‘Royce’ i say!

  5. Mic Rees says

    Glen – Ricky Kennedy made his debut in that match.

    Everyone , well, the 10,000 or so that bothered to turn up, will tell you it was Robbie who kicked the winner – but how many remember Jacko bagging a lazy 8 on that warm April afternoon?


  6. Love the ingrained pessimism of Bulldogs supporters – particularly your mum.
    Now I know where “that puts the icing on the cake” comes from.
    Couldn’t she have waited until half time – you won by a space in ’54 so the omens must have been good by then?
    What’s happened to Dahlhaus? I thought he was going to be a champ, but he seems to have a severe case of the Jack Darlings. Twice as good as most, but half as good as he thinks he is.
    St Brendan??? Good bloke undoubtedly. Good coach???
    Loved the piece, Neil. Hang in there.

  7. Stainless says

    Cowshedend – I reckon the trouble with footy clubs like these (and mine too I daresay – although we’re trying to bury it) is that they can’t help but repeat the past. The last quarter of this game illustrated it perfectly (as does the story of the sponge cake icing!) If it wasn’t such a damned relief for Melbourne to have hung on, I’d suggest there were no winners on the night.

  8. I feel sorry for the dogs, but really, I don’t think they really like it when they need to take the hard knocks. I think frankly they are a bit soft and don’t want to get dirty.
    If they refuse to play hard, I mean take the knocks, they are destined for many more wooden spoons. Sorry dude but this is my feeling, especially the older dogs, don’t like it too hard.

  9. Neil Anderson says

    This old dude can’t agree with the old dogs not liking the hard stuff Paubai. I’m thinking of Boydand Cross to name a couple of old flea-bags. And don’t forget Callan Ward nicknamed ‘Cementhead’ before he was sold for a handful of beans to GWS.
    What they need is a couple of arrogant in your face monsters like Carey and Bazza. Three years ago those battling Bulldogs had a Bazza to kick it to and what a difference it made.
    Kerrie and others talking about family members doubting the Bulldogs win in 1954. I remembered reading about EJ and his team not having a venue ready for their celebrations. Probably the Town Hall. They spent half the night in the foyer of a pub waiting for the place to be available.
    Can you imagine Melbourne or Collingwood in those days putting up with that debarcle?

  10. Sorry , Neil, a bit strong. I just don’t want the dogs to fall into old habits, I want them, like you, to be strong and successful. I feel at the moment they are not firing like tough old dogs

  11. Yes Mic, Jacko kicked a lazy 8, with Flower taking a big mark, then goaling at the Geelong st end in the dying minutes. Two Q’s to jog my memory. Were Melbourne goaless in the opening stanza? Also, was it the ‘Hey Man’, match when a highly credentialled, former premirship player, had ridiculous allegations made about him ?


  12. Mic Rees says

    Glen – Scores 11/4/81
    1/4: Dogs 3.5-23 Melb 0.1-1
    1/2: Foot 7.6-48 Melb 8.4-52
    3/4: Foot 15.11-101 Melb 12.6-78
    Final Score: Dees 18.12-120 def Dogs 18.11-119.

    Four players who took the field for the Bullies that day – Kennedy, Jock Edmond, Brian Cordy & Senator Douglas Hawkins, played major roles in the ’85 team that went close to making a GF. We couldn’t have imagined that would happen during those “fun” days of the early 80’s.

    Yes, there was a certain, outrageous accusation made that day. Unsubstantiated as most were during that period.


  13. Ta Mick, my memory is still accurate. Senator Hawkins? No, not yet.


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