Round 16 – Geelong v Western Bulldogs: Cats Close the Gap on Red Dogs

While matches between Geelong and the Bulldogs may not always excite the wider football community, we Cats and Bullies fans love ’em. Over the years they’ve provided great entertainment and highlights and you never really know who’s likely to salute.

Those of us with longer than average memories recall venturing out to a freezing, windy Western Oval full of hope year after year only to watch the Dogs kill the Cats – again. Whitten, Schultz, Jillard and co. were just too good for us. Nevertheless we’d still front up optimistically the following year. Surely we must win one out there soon.

Conversely when Footscray came down to Kardinia Park they rarely got back on the team bus in a happy frame of mind. Legend has it that in Ted Whitten’s entire career he never played in a winning side at Geelong. Some years later when Teddy was in the broadcast box the Doggies won two or three in a row at Geelong. Apparently his smile could be seen as far away as Barkly St.

When we eventually saw the Cats win one out west it was quite odd – five goals to one on a heavy ground in the mid sixties. Geelong played gun forward John Sharrock at full back. He was returning from injury but it looked really strange. Anyway it worked and we Cats fans went home happy from the Western Oval – finally.

A few years later, in 1969, Geelong were playing Footscray at Kardinia Park. It was a game the Cats were generally expected to win. Of greater interest to many however was whether Doug Wade could beat the great Peter Hudson to the 100 goal mark. At the start of the round Wade was on 89 and Hudson on 87. You’d reckon both were probably a couple of weeks away from the ton.

It was a split round and on the first week the Hawks were playing the Demons at the MCG. With no Geelong game on that weekend I ventured to the ’G and witnessed Hudson give a masterclass in how to play full forward. Nine goals straight in a comfortable Hawthorn victory. Hudson was now seven ahead of Wade. Could the big burly Cat respond? Could he ever.

In this long-ago clash the Cats opened up a handy lead and looked likely winners by half time. Wade however had kicked ‘only’ four goals, having missed several relatively easy chances. He really should have had seven or eight by the long break. The 100 was looking a long way off.

In the second half Geelong slammed on goals galore. Goggin in particular was looking for Wade at every opportunity. The big fellow did not let him down and kicked three in the third quarter, drawing level with Hudson with a quarter to play.

In the last it was all about Big Doug. The Geelong fans were screaming every time Geelong went into attack at the Lance Perkins end (for those who weren’t there for R1 1967, the city end). It may have been the unfortunate Gary Merrington who had the job of minding Wade in the last term. With so much ball coming down the field he might as well have been trying to turn back the tide.

History shows that Wade kicked his 11th, and 100th, with one of his trademark torpedo punts late in the last quarter. Thousands ran on to the field to congratulate him. We’d witnessed one of the all time great individual performances at the ground. 11 goals 6 behinds and a couple of misses from mighty drop kicks and long torpedoes. We’ll never see the like again.

Other Cats/Dogs memories include Billy Brownless’ ‘monkey off the back’ winning goal after the siren in the sensational 1994 final at the MCG, Ben Graham’s 90 plus metre kick from the Geelong Road end goal square onto the members wing logo at Footscray some years later and Brad Johnson’s tour de force eight goals against the Cats in R1 2007 (Joel Selwood’s first game).

The Bulldogs’ comfortable win in ’07 had Geelong supporters despairing about the inevitable dreadful season ahead. Six months later 30,000 turned up at Kardinia Park to celebrate the Cats’ first flag in 44 years. Funny game, football.

In terms of great Geelong/Bulldogs games, Round 16 2015 wasn’t one of them.

On a fine but chilly day we were entertained before the game by indigenous kids singing and dancing as part of a local Close the Gap health and wellbeing campaign. The Geelong team wore their indigenous jumpers to show support.

The Cats ran out between flags representing their 16 official premierships since the founding of the club in 1859. The Bulldogs ran out in almost totally red outfits reminiscent of the very early days of colour TV. An interesting fashion choice.

Billy Goggin rang the old timekeepers bell and the game commenced.

From start to finish it was a scrappy affair. The first half was a dour struggle with much congestion, countless stoppages and scoring opportunities rare. Both defences were well on top but the few chances which fell to the forwards were generally squandered by poor kicking. Four goals to three at the long break, in favour of the Cats, tells the story.

During the third quarter the Bulldogs attacked relentlessly. Dahlhaus and Wallis continually forced the ball into their forward 50 but it just kept coming back out again as the mixture of Geelong’s old and young defenders held firm.

Despite having only about 20 per cent of the play on their forward line the Cats managed to outscore the Bulldogs by four goals to three with Steve Johnson setting up Tom Hawkins and Steve Motlop for vital majors.

Johnson played an intriguing game for the Cats. At times he looked slow and out of sorts, particularly when he had a seemingly certain goal at the city end smothered by Stewart Crameri. Johnson appeared to be the only person in the stadium unaware that Crameri was lurking nearby as he slowly turned and tried to get the ball onto his boot to tap through a ‘Joe the Goose’ goal from a few metres out. Bulldogs supporters were laughing but Geelong fans were not.

At other times though Stevie was his old brilliant self, setting up goals for team-mates and causing headaches for defenders. He’s Geelong through and through and it’s hard to imagine the side without him if he decides to hang up the boots at the end of the season. Several other ageing stars are in the same boat and all deserve to be treated with the utmost respect. We supporters would expect nothing less.

The game finishes much as it started with fierce contests around the ball but very little scoring. The highlight of the day is a brilliant long snapshot from Motlop which gives the Cats enough breathing space to run out narrow eight point winners.

For the Cats Josh Caddy played probably his best game for the club in the absence of skipper Joel Selwood. His 37 disposals, most of them contested, were vital in the Cats getting over the line. Mitch Duncan played well after returning from a serious injury, Motlop was lively with three goals and the ever reliable veterans Enright, Lonergan and Taylor were solid in defence. Second gamer Jake Kolodjashnij didn’t look out of place in the absence of Jared Rivers and Mark Blicavs continued to impress.

For the Dogs there were none better than Luke Dahlhaus. He matched Caddy for disposals and proved a headache for the Cats all day. Mitch Wallis and Jack Macrae exerted influence as the game progressed and Dale Morris was solid in his 200th. Tory Dickson chipped in with three goals and Murphy was precise while Marcus Bontempelli had a rare quiet game.

On this day Geelong closed the gap slightly on one of the teams they must beat to make the finals for a ninth year in a row. However they are at a delicate stage where a couple more losses will probably see them out of contention.

If the Bulldogs can regroup quickly and start winning again after an off day at Kardinia Park a finals spot should be theirs for the taking.

There’s much to like about this young, skilful side. You’d think Teddy would be nodding and agreeing, with a smile on his face.



Geelong                  3.4 4.8 8.10 10.12 (72)
Western Bulldogs 2.2 3.4 6.10 9.10 (64)

Goals Geelong: Hawkins, Motlop 3; Gregson, Walker, Duncan, Caddy

Western Bulldogs: Dickson 3; Wallis 2; Redpath, Dahlhaus, Grant, Stringer

Best Geelong: Caddy, Enright, Lonergan, Motlop, Duncan, Bartel

Western Bulldogs: Dalhaus, Wallis, Macrae, Dickson, Morris, Murphy

Crowd: 25,041

Umpires: Donlon, Chamberlain, Ryan

Our Votes: Caddy (G) 3, Dahlhaus(WB) 2, Motlop (G) 1


  1. Terrific meander down memory lane Burkie. Doug Wade’s flat punt was something to behold. Did you have a chat about Doug’s 11 goal game to old mate G Merrington at the All Nations?

    Cats were just OK last week. But a win is a win.

  2. G’day Dips. Nah, I didn’t want to interrupt Gary when he was busy pouring us beautiful beers at the All Nations. Pretty sure it was him on Wadey in that long-ago game though. Probably did well to keep him to eleven with so much of the ball coming his way.

    Cheers, Burkie

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