AFL Round 16 – Western Bulldogs v Essendon: Bulldogs hang in (again) but Dons do enough

There was once a footy team called Footscray and they played in the VFL/AFL.  They were always a team of battlers, or at least that what we thought of them in our red and black home. We had no love for any team that played  against The Dons, but I suspect that the Doggies were almost tolerated.  I once heard that you had to be a paid up Unionist if you wanted to play for Footscray, a story I haven’t been able to verify, but it sounds OK to me.

In 1989 we almost lost the club, when it was decided by the “bean counters” at the VFL that they should merge with Fitzroy. The effect on the local community was devastating, every body got on board to save the club. People donated far more than they could afford and they succeeded, they saved their club. Little did I suspect that in 2000, Footscray would inflict the only defeat on Essendon that season, and to think that I dug into my pocket to help save them!

So here we are today playing today’s version of Footscray, the Western Bulldogs at the ridiculous time of twenty to four on a Sunday afternoon. The radio is on for the game and I’m settled on the couch.  When the third placed team, The Dons, are playing one of the cellar dwellers you have to feel confident, but I must have a bit of a soft spot for The Doggies because I didn’t want it to be an absolute thrashing.  Essendon came out on fire, they had  goals, five of them early in the first quarter. The Western Bulldogs, to their credit, came back with endless tackling and harassing  and sheer desperation, and by quarter time they had cut the Dons lead to twenty points.

Essendon certainly had a game of footy on their hands, the Bulldogs didn’t let up with their version of pressure.  Both sides kicked three goals for the quarter and even though Essendon had double the amount of scoring shots, by half time The Dons knew they were playing a gusty determined team that were giving their all. At half time the Dons were up by twenty three points.

The third quarter was a replica of the first two,  Essendon was not allowed to play their fast open attacking footy because of the constant pressure from The Dogs and they actually out scored The Dons. The margin at three quarter time was down to thirteen points and smug old me wasn’t feeling too smug anymore. I had an awful feeling that year 2000 was coming back to haunt me.

Last quarter, and I reckon The Bulldogs were badly done by the umpires when they disallowed an” advantage” goal. That would have reduced Essendon’s lead to within a kick  and who knows what could have happened. But The Dons hung in there and stopped them getting closer. The late goals The Dons got, put a different perspective on the result.  I reckon a twenty point win to The Dons would have been a fairer result.  The Western Bulldogs deserve to be higher on the ladder judging by their performance today, the one thing they must learn is not to give teams the start they gave Essendon.  Playing desperate catch up footy  against  Essendon  is a big ask  and The Dons did enough to make sure they didn’t get the points.

Essendon               18.13 (121)

Western Bulldogs  14. 6  (90)


Essendon: Winderlich 4 Dempsey 3 Heppell 2 Melksham 2 Bellchambers 2 Goddard, Stanton,Myers,Carlisle,Ryder

Western Bulldogs: Dahihaus 3  Giansiracusa 2 Jones 2 Goodes, Smith, Grant, Tutt, Stevens, Liberatore, Minson


Essendon: Heppell, Winderlich, Dempsey, Ryder, Myers, Pears,

Western Bulldogs: Liberatore, Murphy, Goodes, Cooney, Stevens, Giansiracusa.

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