AFL Round 3 – Richmond v Western Bulldogs: Sophie’s Choice

My two favourite teams are about to play. It feels more like I’m nominating my favourite child to win rather than picking a team. My long-time favourite son ‘Bulldog’ will always come first but adopted son ‘Tiger’ has gained a lot of brownie points this year and might have his father’s full attention by season’s end.

Bulldog has a better than Buckley’s chance of winning today but he’s definitely not the favourite with the bookmakers. So my other child Tiger is likely to be 3-0 and hopefully heading towards the finals. I won’t give up on the young fella, but if Bulldog does lose today, I fear he will not get near the final eight.

Tiger has a lot to prove. He has let his family down time and time again over the last thirty years. For someone who’s achieved so much as a youngster and even in his teens, he lost all credibility after that mighty victory in 1980. Perhaps he thought the next lot of premierships would just simply happen.

Bulldog has always tried hard without much success. However, his hard work paid off when he played in all those finals in the last ten years. It was a credit to someone without a lot of natural talent. The sort of talent his older brother is now demonstrating to the rest of the competition.

So which son will I choose at the end of the match? Thankfully the choice won’t be as traumatic as the one made by Meryl Streep in the 1982 film ‘Sophie’s Choice’. During the second-world war, Sophie had to decide which child to give up to her captors so she and her other daughter would be allowed to live. I realize that was psychological torture invented by monsters while I have the luxury of making my choice after a mere sporting contest, but still, it won’t be easy.

Then again, I think deep down I know already who I’ll be choosing. Sixty years of parental concern for one child is a long time and I won’t forsake him now after all we’ve been through. But if his brother finally hits his straps after today, I will support him also, as will his brother.

The brothers have always been close. Only that one falling out during a match in the 1990s due to some behind the play scratching and clawing. But that’s history and a new rivalry is about to commence.

So looking at my two boys out there before they start, in my mind it’s a fifty-fifty contest. Maybe that’s just being a parent by not favouring one over the other.

And then it does start with Tiger kicking the quickest goal in AFL history! My heart goes out to young Bulldog. Tiger hasn’t improved that much! Surely! Bulldog gets the next two unexpectedly from strong marks and kicking straight. Order is restored. Briefly. Tiger seems much more advanced in his preparation than I thought and the goals come thick and fast.

Always the extrovert compared to Bulldog, Tiger is now adding confidence to his arsenal. Bulldog reverts to type and drops his head just as he did in the back-yard as a young fella when Tiger out-marked him.

Second and third quarters are hard to watch. You just feel so helpless when one of your boys is struggling. You start to dread them arriving home. One will slump in battered and bruised and feeling like a failure. Big brother will stride in all smiles, probably twirling a Sherrin with his triumphant cry of…” suffaaaa!”

The last quarter is more of the same. Bulldog trying hard at times but Tiger turning into a bully, rubbing his little brother’s nose in it. The adopted son now well on top and after three decades of feeling neglected is showing the rest of the family that the wheel has finally turned.

‘Sophie’s Choice’ time. Do I now put all my support behind Tiger as he seems destined to play finals? Of course I’ll be there if he needs me, but I’ll be more preoccupied with young Bulldog because he needs me more than ever right now. Besides, there’s been some terrible examples of neglect lately. The worst one I read about was by that Demon family who lived in one of the wealthier suburbs.

Who knows what pressures some people are under, but to me, abandoning a child in need is unthinkable.


Richmond:     4.9  7.11  13.14  20.15  (135)

W. Bulldogs:  2.1  3.3     6.5      10.8    ( 68 )


Richmond: Riewoldt 5, Deledio 3, McGuane 3, S. Edwards 2, Martin 2, Knights, Houli, Jackson, Tuck, Maric.

Bulldogs: Jones 4, Cooney 2, Stevens, Griffen, Giansiracusa, Dahlhaus.


Richmond: Martin, Deledio, Cotchin, Houli, Maric, Morris, McGuane.

Bulldogs: Cooney, Griffin, Jones, Morris, Wallis.

UMPIRES: Stewart, Leppard, Kamolins.

CROWD: 44,045

OUR VOTES: Martin (R) 3, Deledio (R) 2, Maric (R) 1

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. Cheryl Critchley says

    What a dilemma Neil! The Bulldogs are also my second team so I always follow them in the finals when Richmond doesn’t make it. Richmond has 10 flags and the Bulldogs 1 so don’t feel guilty sticking with your boys to get them over the line. They deserve it!!

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