AFL Round 22 – Western Bulldogs v Sydney: Concessions


Western Bulldogs versus Sydney Swans

3.20pm, Sunday 24th August

Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

Tom Riordan

As my mate Clarkey and I set out to watch the Dogs cop a Sunday afternoon belting from the Swans, we considered the concessions Sydney have, and how luxurious life as a Sydney supporter must be. Had Adam Goodes played at the Bulldogs, we would have spent the last five years reveling in his glorious Brownlow victories and each of the next five reminiscing about the memories he gave us, wishfully thinking that some day we’ll get a player like him again. For Sydney, without any hypotheticals, the superb Goodes has recently been and will be overshadowed by the abundance of superstars currently on their list, who will carry forward the successful nature of the club.

It was these unquestionable, stark advantages Sydney have over the Dogs that set the tone for the day. As we were getting off the Upfield train at North Melbourne, a bloke who had the similar mentality of avoiding the City Loop almost sat us back down in shock as he gave us two spare Medallion Club tickets, “Cheer on the mighty Doggies”. What he’d graciously done was given us an ultra-comfortable opportunity to soak up the Swans before September hype took over. It was the best seat in the house to watch the best team in the comp.

Evidence of the Western Bulldogs trying to find any possible advantage over their northern counterparts became evident on the banner; “FACT – The Westgate Bridge is longer and higher than the Harbour Bridge.” Sydney’s reply came in the form of blowing the Bulldogs off the park in the first quarter. The analogy of a hot knife cutting through butter came to mind when watching the precision of Jarrad McVeigh and Nick Malceski as a half-back combination, of which there may be none better. Meanwhile, our answer came in the form of Shaun Higgins – who tended to butcher the ball throughout the afternoon – and Bob Murphy, who is being depended upon so much to get the ball moving out of defence that it’s becoming embarrassing. If any one of Christian Howard, Daniel Pearce, Michael Talia and Sam Darley, all of whom are designed to have that quarterback-type of role as a dominant facet of their game, could reach the kind of level they were touted as getting to then the gaping hole may not be so hurtful to the team each week. But for now, each of that quartet seem at home in the VFL team whose success this season has been far more like Sydney’s than its namesake.

After copping the 37 point hiding in the opening quarter of the game, the margin remained in the thirties at half-time. John Longmire walked past us on his way to the box at the end of the long break and gave the impression of a group level horse under a hold, cruising past a field full of maidens in a midweek trial.

The second half started predictably; McVeigh got it out of the centre to Malceski, who, with the momentum he got from flying off the back 50 and into the middle, drilled a ball inside 50 towards Tippett who spilt it and, after a scrap on the floor, the ball found its way back to Malceski who goaled. The gleeful Swans fans around us had probably become accustomed to seeing their team put on a perfectly directed show each week and, with a budget somewhere around that of a Hollywood blockbuster, Buddy started to have some fun of his own. He caught up to Tippett’s haul of four, before – speaking of luxuries – Tippett was subbed out, uninjured, leaving the spotlight on the almost unfair duel between Franklin and Dale Morris. Buddy’s soccered goal in the final few minutes was indicative of Morris’ capabilities to match him with pure defensive nous and guile, but told just as much about the 10 million dollar man’s pure genius in front of goal.

The 63 point winning margin could, in theory, be put down to the tall timber up forward, who finished with 10 between them. But, in practice, it was a far more comprehensive win than that. Every advantage Sydney had off the field going into the game was resembled on it. You can argue all day long about whether or not the salary allowance for the Swans is what turned them into the powerhouse they’ve become, or whether it’s a superior system of club-wide talent management to every other team that separates them from most. The truth is, we may never be able to tell. The only way that Sydney will lose that allowance is if they go “back-to-back-to-back” as the Lions did. And, the way they keep replenishing stocks, I wouldn’t put it past them.

Western Bulldogs            1.2          5.5          7.10        9.13
Sydney Swans                  7.3           11.5        17.7        20.10

Western Bulldogs: Stringer 2, Boyd, Cooney, Liberatore, Bontempelli, Hrovat, Johannisen, Griffen
Sydney Swans: Franklin 6, Tippett 4, Lloyd 2, Goodes 2, Malceski, Jetta, Towers, Hannebery, Parker

Western Bulldogs: Liberatore, Hrovat, Macrae, Stringer, Picken, Griffen
Sydney Swans: Parker, Franklin, McVeigh, Malceski, Hannebery, Mitchell

Armstrong, Ryan, Bannister

Parker (SYD) 3, Franklin (SYD) 2, McVeigh (SYD) 1


About Tom Riordan

Tom Riordan is in his second year of a Bachelor of Journalism at Swinburne University. He loves all sports, and plays for Brunswick Cricket Club. He supports the Western Bulldogs and can be found on weekends among half a dozen others in Q38 on the top level of the MCC.


  1. Neil Anderson says

    The irony of having the best seats in the house to watch the slaughter. It was a bit like watching the well-fed, well- paid gladiators sponsored by the Emperor brutalize the scrawny peasants. I expected to see Emperor Augustus Longmire to give the thumbs-down signal in the final quarter when his team eased up a bit.
    But getting back to a more even competition, the VFL, at least Footscray will play in a final next week. Possibly at their own home-ground. How reasonable and sensible will that be?

  2. cowshedend says

    Ripping review Tom, all so sadly true,could have been incredibly worse. Still see Roberts and Talia as the answers as key backs, puzzles me why they have not been used.
    And i am with you 100% on the reliance of Murphy off half back, its scary!
    Also how many benefit games does Gia get? has been taking the spot of a kid on what, 14 occasions?
    Liked Hrovats game, Bont was good Stringer showed plenty again and Libba and McRae got plenty of it.
    I was also watching Footscray on the net via Richmond’s site, Roberts kicked the winning goal after the siren from 60.
    Another question Tom, will you continue to accept gifts from strangers on trains?

  3. As you say Tom, at least the opportunity to see Buddy Franklin in top form and in good seats! Hope the Dogs are stronger next season… enjoy your reporting.

  4. Tom, great review, sad but true, what can I say but taking gifts from strangers is about being a doggies supporter…accept charity at all times!

  5. Skip of Skipton says

    Peter Foster’s son Jayden kicked a bag for Calder and topped the league goal kicking.

    Doubtful Peter Wright from Calder will still be around at pick 5, but if he is they have to take him. Forget about running quarterbacks and what-not, the lack of a big forward or two is killing them.

  6. Tom Riordan says

    I would love for the dogs to pick up Pete, for not only is he a fantastic prospect, but also a very good mate of mine since primary school. I definitely agree that it is another area of the field we need to address.

  7. Wilbur carried the rucks and fed the clkearances last year…he’s spent! Campbell and then Cordy made the modest Swan ruck brigade look better than they were and made it really tough for our little fellas. Happy with Dahlhaus’ efforts (though his kicking is getting worse as his mileage increases) as well as an exhausted Libba, but Coons looks as thougfh he might struggle to come up in 2015. mid-size, Stringer makes Crameri look second rate. All of the the opposing talls make poor, workmanlike Mark Austin look 2nd rate.

  8. Footscray play Willy in the first round of VFL finals – Sunday at Whitten Oval, 1pm.

  9. Keiran Croker says

    Excellent report Tom.
    The AFL has already made the decision to reduce the Swans COLA over the next two years. There has been much debate on these pages about the advantage the Swans have gained from it. I guess we will see over time how the Swans fare in keeping a competitive squad together. As a Swans supporter I like to point out that we have a magnificent record in turning rookies in to great team players. From yesterday’s team the following came off the rookie list – Smith, Grundy, Rampe, Biggs, Jack, Cunningham, Lloyd and Pyke. This shows the importance of good recruiting and development.
    I reckon the Dogs are on the right track though!

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