AFL Round 20 – Carlton v Western Bulldogs: Learning to beat the Blues

People laugh when Danny from Droop Street (Footscray) rings the Coodabeen Champions with all his doom and gloom about how the Bulldogs are sure to lose the match on the weekend.

Of course it’s an exaggerated feeling on behalf of Danny but fellow Bulldog supporters would feel a twinge of recognition when they hear his lament.

Just like we hate it when commentators for the sake of their broadcast build up the underdog team like the Bulldogs in recent years. And if the Bulldogs kick the first couple of goals against the reigning premiers for example, they say, “ This looks like the upset of the season brewing!”

Bulldog supporters fear the dreaded moz!

My Bulldog ‘underdog’ training started as a young teenager in my first job in the early sixties, commonly known in Bulldog history as ‘those barren years’.  For some reason I buddied up with another trainee-clerk who happened to be a Carlton supporter. At that stage Carlton weren’t a dominant team so my fear and loathing of the Blue-baggers hadn’t yet started.

It was the trips out to Princes Park with my new buddy that began my paranoia about Carlton. My so-called ‘friend’ was so cocky and confident that Carlton would win every time they played the Bulldogs, he was using me just to rub it in as I watched my poor old Bulldogs get beaten time and time again.

He smugly pointed out the influential men in suits that looked down from the Robert Heatley Stand, which is an image that still comes to mind whenever I think of Carlton. He also couldn’t wait for John Nichols to run out so he could show me once again just how massive his thighs were. I must admit there was a certain amount of thigh-envy on my part being a young stripling with my own thighs more akin to Jarrad Grant’s than John Nichols.

Twenty years later at work in another place I buddied up with another Carlton supporter. This time it was always friendly banter about our two teams with no hidden agenda.

Unfortunately for me it had been a bit of a golden era for Carlton with three premierships including a back-to-back. The Bulldogs were good in the mid-eighties and then fell away again until the early nineties when Terry Wheeler was coaching. In the meantime I was surrounded at work by Carlton supporters so I couldn’t take a trick and never got the chance for any one-upmanship.

That is until after a particular Bulldogs / Carlton match in 1992.

I had travelled to Adelaide for a reunion with a friend from the old miss-spent youth share-house era and spent a couple of rare family- free days over there. On the drive back home I somehow picked up the Bulldogs/Carlton match on the radio and  realized I could listen to it all the way home!  After all I was a free man. No requests for Classic FM from the passenger seat and no demands for Heavy Metal coming from the back seat.

It was a close match and I started to dread the call from my Carlton buddy the next day if the Bulldogs lost. And then just as I crossed into Victoria the miracle happened.  An unlikely win to the Bulldogs!

I then  literally came to a fork in the road. I could either turn right to the Warrnambool district and go straight home to the bosom of my family, or keep going towards Ballarat and make a surprize visit to my friend after a rare Bulldog victory.

Of course I’d been driving all day and the sensible thing to do would be to go straight home, but the undergrad- humour in me won out. I arrived on my friend’s doorstep with a silly grin on my face and told him I was just passing, saw the light on and thought I’d pop in.

The good-natured ‘You Bastard!’ response  from him was well worth my detour and much better than waiting to ring him the following day.

So after a history of being blue-bagged how do I feel about today’s match? I’m thinking positive for the Bulldogs and tipped them to win after a great month of football. They’ve introduced a tall forward in Tom Campbell, Jarrad Grant’s starting to prove his knockers wrong including me and they’re playing direct football through the corridor.

There’s just a slight ‘Danny from Droop Street’ feeling when I read in the paper that Mick Malthouse has been putting the pressure on his small forwards to perform. Will they cut loose against the Bulldogs today?

The first quarter was a mixture of the boys being up and about with a touch of the ‘Dannys’ when the Bulldogs are kicking points instead of goals. This also could have been footy- god intervention which is the cause of much of Danny’s depression.

The second quarter and the Bulldog energy is still up with Tom Campbell testing out the thickness of the gaol-post padding with his head and my man Jarrad Grant turning on an arc and slotting one through. Fifteen point lead at half time as I look at the vision of Mick Malthouse to see if his head really can explode.

The third quarter and Carlton made their run out-scoring the Bulldogs by two goals but I’m not thinking it’s like the bad old days just yet.  Mainly because Judd and a couple of other Blues are injured and we’ve got the speedster Jason Tutt as our sub. Another big improver in recent times.

What me worry? Four goals to one in the last quarter and the Bulldogs are home!

Today was a huge turning point for all Bulldog supporters. For me it was like a curse has been lifted after Black Jack called my team ‘tragic’ and  irrelevant. I wonder if he was looking down on the match today thinking of a similar terminology  he could use for his own team.

Carlton        2.1  6.6  12.9  13.11 (89)

W.Bulldogs  2.6  8.9  12.15  16.21 (117)


Carlton:  Betts 2, Henderson 2, Menzel 2, McLean, Judd, Yarran, Armfield, Curnow, Waite, Tuohy.

W.Bulldogs:  Grant 4, Giansiracusa 2, Dahlhaus 2, Jones 2, Cooney, Tutt, Picken, Campbell, Dickson, Young.


Carlton:  Scotland, McLean, Curnow, Murphy, Judd.

W.Bulldogs:  Griffen, Grant, Murphy, Cooney, Stevens, Picken, Liberatore.

Umpires:  Ben Ryan, Troy Pannell, Scott Jeffery.

Official crowd:  31,126

Our Votes:  3 Griffen (WB)  2 Stevens (WB)  1 Scotland  (Carl.)

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. Andrew Starkie says

    Neil, well done Dogs. Wins like that are what sport is all about. As opposed to all the other shit going on at the moment in football. All the best for the rest of the year.

  2. Peter Fuller says

    Congratulations you were far too good for us, and I found the lack of intensity by the Blues’ players mystifying. The margin flattered the Blues, as even in the first quarter you were right on top (you omitted mention of three out on the full shots at goal in the first eight minutes in your lament about the first term’s 2-6).

    It’s funny how memories can differ. I remember two particularly ignominious Carlton defeats by Footscray. One-hit wonder John Georgiadis kicked 8 goals* against us at PP in (iirc the opening round, 1989), which I watched with increasing incredulity (much like my attendance on Saturday night); I was not there (children’s basketball commitments) on the dreadful day at the Western Oval, when only a late last quarter goal by Mark Arceri preserved us from goallessness.

    I understand that the balance of experience reflects more Carlton successes than failures, generally and relative to the Dogs, but I suspect that your mate’s conceit and arrogance must have been tempered by enduring the past decade. You have had a moderately good run in the noughties, when the gap between expectation and outcome for the Blues has only been worsened by the Tigers. The current trajectory suggests more pain ahead for us, real possibilities for Richmond, and some hopeful signs for the Dogs.

    * I suspect that was JG’s debut, and I note that he only played another 14 games for a yield of an additional 19 goals.

  3. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Andrew. Sorry to see the Kangaroos not quite making it this year.
    The best thing about the current Bulldogs is the hope they’re providing for long suffering supporters. Last year we lost the last eleven so you can see why we are a bit excited.
    Peter, you have a better memory than me even re Bulldog players etc. But I do remember the John Georgiadis debut and his disappearance from the scene just as quickly.
    And also the Mark Arceri goal that saved the embarrassment for the Blues. We did actually win quite often against the better teams out at Western Oval, usually right at the end of the season.
    Peter, just as a spooky footnote regarding my Carlton colleague when I was a teenager, the other guy we knocked around with who was an Essendon supporter went by the name of…Peter Fuller.

  4. Peter Fuller says

    I’m appalled that my namesake barracked for Essendon. I can only hope that he is not related, which afaik he isn’t.
    Georgiadis is seared into my memory from that single event.

  5. Neil…I’m afraid my inner Danny made me pessimistic this week. We threw so much into the game against the swans, I didn’t think we could back up again, and yes, Mad Mick’s mind games also raised my fears.

    It was such a joy to see how much our boys wanted to win, though. It should have been a 10 goal win. And this from a team that struggled to kick 6 or 7 goals a match!

    May I place on the record that I was there for the astonishing and never repeated Georgiades goal avalanche. And the wonderful occasion when we kept the Blue baggers goal less for all but the last 10 minutes. And the many miserable hidings at Princes Park. So yes, victory on Saturday was sweet indeed.

    Thanks for a great write up Neil.

  6. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Kerrie. I love hearing from other Bulldog supporters who can confirm what I think I remember. I am isolated geographically and family-wise as a Doggy supporter so I really appreciate contacts via the Almanac.
    Peter, spooky footnote number two. I have just written a play called ‘Doppelganger’.
    It’s about a number of people with the same name including people with famous names.
    Sorry to mention your namesake was an Essendon supporter. The only thing I remember about him was that he threw a party at his place when his parents were away which went on for three days. A bit like Tom Cruise in Risky Business with- out the prostitutes.

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