AFL Round 2 – Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne: Or, the Griffin-dogs need a new boy wizard

Sometimes in families you find yourselves doing things you didn’t expect. My 16 year-old daughter, who has read the Harry Potter series 11 times, finally persuaded me to read it. In return I extracted an agreement that she accompany me to Etihad to cheer on the Bulldogs in their first Melbourne match of 2014.

The preferred sport of Potter fans, of course, is Quidditch. But the AQL (Australian Quidditch League) hasn’t scheduled any matches this weekend, so to the footy we go. The Bulldogs, I reckon, are a bit like Gryffindor house – that’s the house that Harry Potter belongs to at Hogwarts. Hell, our captain’s even called Griffin – but Daw plays for today’s opposition, North Melbourne (though he’s not in their team today.) But if the Dogs are Gryffindor, who is their arch enemy, Slytherin?   For most AFL fans, I suppose, Collingwood would fit the bill. But for Doggies fans it’s probably St Kilda, who eliminated us in that heartbreaking semi-final in 2010.  The platinum blonde Nick Riewoldt even resembles Draco Malfoy. Today’s opponent, North, isn’t really an arch-enemy, just a rival, making them Ravenclaw house, or Hufflepuff.

The problem the Dogs have right now is that they lack anyone with the Potter factor. They have plenty of willing sidekicks, sure, they are a team of Ron Weasleys (in loyalty, courage and size), but where is the  boy wizard who can inspire them to defeat the Dark Lord? Is it Jack McCrae, who gathered 31  possessions in the thrashing by West Coast last week? Is it Luke Dahlhaus?  Tom Liberatore?

In the first half of today’s game, there were no hopeful signs whatsoever for Bulldogs fans. In fairness, there wasn’t much for North to cheer either. By quarter time the Dogs had garnered three (count ’em) points, by half time they had 2.3 to North Melbourne’s 2.5. You couldn’t fault the effort, but you could fault everything else. Most disappointingly, the Dogs seemed to have no plan. From the way they kept kicking the ball to the opposition, you’d think their team mates must be wearing invisibility cloaks, and when they did have a shot, the ball sailed so wide it was as if there was a protective spell around the goal.

Clearly, coach McCartney needed to equip his team with a brand new set of Firebolt brooms at half time, but after the long break there was more of the same: plenty of hufflepuff but a depressing lack of magic. Around about this time, supporters of both teams were voicing the opinion that ‘this is the worst game of footy I’ve ever seen’. At least there were a few goals, though. Captain Griffen briefly materialised to thread one through, but most of the time he was so ineffectual he might as well have been imprisoned in Azkaban. Dahlhaus raised momentary hopes with a successful snap from the forward pocket. Overall, though, none of the young lads running around for the Dogs looked like they had special powers, and the Voldemorts we face over the coming weeks will not be shaking in their boots.

The old hands had their moments – Murphy, in particular, played with shrewdness and vigour, threading perfect passes onto the chest of team mates as if selecting a killer adjective for his next column in The Age. But the sad fact for the Dogs is that the veterans are nearing the end, and the young ones are not ready yet.  North pulled away in the final quarter – turning a three-point lead into  a decisive 29 points in quick time – and most of the goals resulted from Dogs’ mistakes. By the end of the game the Bulldogs looked as if they’d been beaten up by the Whomping Willow, and/or had their souls sucked out by dementors.

It’s not that they didn’t try. They tried their guts out. But right now, for the Bulldogs, the magic just isn’t there.  Maybe McCartney needs to get his hands on a luck potion (“Felix felices”). Or would that count as an artificial supplement?

About Nick Gadd

Melbourne writer of novels and non-fiction


  1. I really enjoyed your writing and all the Harry Potter imagery, Nicko. Great piece of creative writing.
    Sounds like you and your daughter had a great adventure, even if the ‘footy’ (keepings off?) left a lot to be desired.

  2. Sam Ashwood says

    Really good piece of writing you should try to do a football game based on only one of the Harry potter books.Really creative piece of writing as well and I loved the title
    Or the Griffin-dogs need a new boy wizard.All in All a fantastic and funny piece of writing.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Nicko brilliant as a adult I love the Harry Potter books ( better than the films ) you have been v creative a outstanding piece of writing look forward to more articles from you
    Well played ( the Riewolt , Draco Malfoy line was my favorite )

  4. Thanks for the comments, Peter, Sam and Malcolm, and glad you liked the piece. I agree with you about J.K. Rowling, Malcolm – as well as a great story teller she’s not a bad sports writer (I love the descriptions of Quidditch!)

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