AFL Round 3 – Western Bulldogs: Happy Days Are Here Again…My Liege!

Western Bulldogs  versus  Richmond

1.45pm, Saturday, 5 April 2014

Etihad Stadium

Neil Anderson


Happy Days Are Here Again…My Liege!


Lots of talk in the Knackery recently about poor crowd numbers,  unsuitable venues, not to mention  bad  scheduled  timing for the  start  of  Season 2014.

Round 3 and Vlad The Manipulator has thrown the Bulldogs a bone in an attempt to appease the chattering classes, otherwise known as concerned football fans.

Today two of the old VFL sides, Footscray and Richmond, will go head to head in Melbourne on a Saturday afternoon no less. A most unusual but welcome turn-around  considering the Bulldogs started their season in Perth in 37 degree heat while the Tigers faced their nemesis on the Gold Coast.

To add to the VFL suburban flavour of the day, the Footscray ‘Reserves’ played on their proper home-ground  this morning at Whitten Oval as a curtain-raiser to the main event at Etihad. Fans were encouraged by the Club to see both matches by making the short journey from Footscray to West Melbourne.

Just before I turned off the pre-game discussion on the old valve- wireless, I’m sure I heard the familiar sound of Harry Beitzel  asking  his old mate Tommy Lahiff for an update of scores from the Western Oval…

“Are you there Tommy?

“I’m here Harry!”

“ Can you hear me Tommy?  Just give us the final score out there before we wrap up the other five games if you wouldn’t  mind.”

“I can hear you loud and clear Harry. Do you want the final score?”

“Just quickly please Tommy because we have to cross to Brunswick Street Oval to see if the Roys were able to win their first game.”

“The Tigers got a real hiding today Harry.  Footscray won twenty-six goals nine behinds to Richmond seven goals six behinds.”

“Thank you Tommy. I’ll talk to you later when you get down to the rooms.”

A perfect start to this retro- day of footy!


This is a day for the fans. Apart from seeing two games for the price of one back in the VFL days, it was the ideal chance as a fan to assess the full list of players. On the Monday there would be the inevitable water-cooler  wisdom about who should be in your team next week.

The argument will continue from supporters of the all-inclusive National Competition versus  the diehard fans clinging to the ‘good old days’ of  VFL suburban footy. Today at least for the age-group that has experienced both ‘brands’, we can indulge ourselves in reliving the 1950’s to 1990’s competition as we knew it.

So it’s ‘Happy Days’ revisited and the gang’s all here. Trent Cotchin  and  Ryan Griffin are the Ritchie Cunninghams of both teams. Both cleanskins and the sort of ‘boys’ that any parent would be glad to see dating their daughter. While the rest of the team are goofing off, as Pottsie  might say, they remain  conservative respected footballers admired by everyone.

We also have a ready-made Fonz in the bike-riding rebel  Jake King who seems to be permanently in  a cheeky, super-cool, thumbs-up  heeeeey!  mode.

Peter Gordon is Howard Cunningham, not only around the jowls, but fighting for the little people.  Like Peter saving his Club from extinction in 1989, Howie would be first out on the street with his placard about some ‘civic’ injustice,  much to the consternation of  Mrs C. He also allowed  homeless bikie ‘The Fonz’ to live in the room above his garage  for  many years.  Grumpy on the outside but always compassionate under that gruff exterior.

If we drop back a few centuries and with the endorsement of our current Prime Minister, Trent and Ryan would surely be Knights of the Realm.

Trent Cotchin  is the Sir Galahad of Punt Road, especially when you read the duty- statement  for getting a seat at that famous table with no leader.

I hope he lives by the Knight’s creed when he takes on the Bulldogs today:

(1)  To be by no means cruel but to give mercy unto him who asks for mercy.

(11) To injure no one. (please!)

(111)  To seek after wonders. ( to attempt to reach the finals for a second year.)

( 1v)  Never to break faith for any reason. ( don’t become a free agent and       

             desert the Tigers… unless you join the Bulldogs.)

Mandatory:  Level 4 Certificate in Equine Studies and proven ability to save damsels in distress.

There is no shortage of knaves.  Perhaps not in the true definition of  being a dishonest rogue but more of the rascally type. Hello Jack Riewoldt.

They didn’t name a playing-card after this young rascal for no reason.

Then we have a minstrel in the form of Bob Murphy. The sometime singer and story-teller strumming his lute and regaling us with tales of rascals far and wide. He need look no further than the knave in the goal-square next to him sporting the freckles and rascally hair for his nomination this week.

So as the beloved generous benefactor and sponsor of impoverished athletes Dame Susan Alberti drops her red, white and blue kerchief  from high up in the stadium…let the tournament begin.

A feeling of dread shirt-fronts me down the middle as Sir Trent leads the charge and goals in the first few minutes, reminding Bulldog fans of Brett Deledio’s  seven- second goal from the centre last year.

Cotchin is everywhere. I looked down at my notes for a split second after he cleared the ball from the backline and when I looked up again, I swear he marked the same ball further down the field!

The next fifteen minutes were Doggy heaven. Jones, Crameri, Cooney, Jones again and Jong all goaled.

To add to the bizzaro world unfolding, Cotchin and Vickery both missed goals. Normally it would be the Bulldogs hitting the post and missing targets under pressure.  But not today.

The Dogs did revert to form when an errant handpass gifted Martin a goal.

The second quarter and Jack Riewoldt is exiled to the bench. The equivalent of being placed in the stocks, but in this PC world, the Tiger supporters are not allowed to throw rotten fruit at him.

More Doggy heaven as Higgins, Dahlhaus, Jong and finally Hunter with six seconds to go, all goal.

The third quarter and something’s stirring in the Richmond camp. Starting with a Vickery goal (where has he been?) Then goals from Gordon, King, two from Jack who has been released from the stocks and Petterd.

The last quarter and the commentators remind us about Richmond’s momentum and their nine-day break compared to the Bulldog’s six-day break. Bulldog fans don’t need reminding about manipulated fixtures.  Their team is still getting over that trip to the West and then having to front up to play again after only a short break.

A 37 point lead has been whittled away and tomorrow’s headlines start flashing before my eyes:




Riewoldt and Jackson goal as Bulldogs’ hearts sink.

Gia the ‘Silver Fox’ sick of reading those sort of headlines above over his fifteen years at the Club decides to do something about it and goals. His reputation as the super-sub remains intact.

The terrible see-sawing game continues and will only be enjoyable at the end if you barrack for the winner.

With 3minutes and twenty-two seconds to go and determined never to return to the stocks, Jack steps up to show the coaches that next week he should be left in the goal-square to play as a leading full-forward. No more pining on the pine for this rascal.

“Cometh the moment…cometh the knave”

He goals to put Richmond in front for the first time.

Just when all seemed lost, enter the ‘Silver Fox’ …again.

He slyly earns himself a free-kick and while his opponents drop their heads in frustration, he cunningly swings around on a better angle and goals!

It’s all over and the Dogs have won! The feeling of relief and exultation is palpable. Not only here in the lounge-room, but amongst the high-fiving, back-slapping players on the field.

I’m exhausted and still not quite believing the Dogs have won, but I have just enough energy to turn up the volume control to eleven to hear that most joyous  of music that fills the stadium

‘Sons of the West,  Red, White and Blue…’

Western Bulldogs    5.4  9.5  11.9  15.10 (100)

Richmond                2.4  3.4  9.6  15.8 (98)


Western Bulldogs:  Jones 3, Gianciracusa 2, Jong 2, Crameri 2, Cooney, Macrae, Stringer, Dahlhaus, Hunter, Higgins.

Richmond:  Riewoldt 4, Griffiths 2, Vickery 2, Jackson, Martin, King, Gordon, Petterd, Grigg, Cotchin.


Western Bulldogs:  Macrae, Boyd, Murphy, Liberatore, Dahlhaus, Crameri, Jones, Cooney.

Richmond:  Cotchin, Morris, Thomas, Riewoldt, Stephenson, Conca.

Umpires:   Stevic, Harris, Fisher

Official Crowd:  31,724.

Our Votes:  3 Macrae  (WB)  2 Cotchin  (Richmond)  1 Liberatore  (WB)


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. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Well done v clever Neil with the Happy Days theme some outstanding match reports this week there is some good youth at bulldog land trouble is Gold Coast and GWS are coming Thanks Neil

  2. cowshedend says

    Great work Neil, now a cross to Polly Perkins at Geelong.

  3. Neil Anderson says

    I thought you might appreciate those references Cowshedend. I was a bit worried about the good folk in Perth and Adelaide not knowing about the pre-Rex days of Harry and Tommy.
    Lucky I didn’t refer to Fitzroy as the Maroons or Gorillas.

  4. daniel flesch says

    You young pups ..when i was a lad Harry Beitzel was still umpiring , his radio career some years in the future. One field umpire in white shorts , white long-sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled up and – this baffled me as a kid – Collingwood socks. And don’t let me start – sorry too late – the goal umpires in white lab. coats , black pants and white hats – real hats , not bloody baseball caps. Sigh .. nostalgia ain’t what it used to be …

  5. Neil Anderson says

    Haven’t been called a young pup for a while …but I like it!
    Having trouble to remember to put the bins out lately but I can remember Harry running around in those bloody Collingwood socks!
    Other flashbacks occurring as I sit on the porch whittlin’ are Harry’s prominent hair-plugs and he had a son who followed him into umpiring.
    Then it seems like yesterday(about thirty years ago) but Hassa got into some financial problems…something to do with Lottery jackpot winners?

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Very entertaining Neil. Remember listening to Harry and Tommy on a Collingwood/Northern Suburbs community station in the mid 90’s calling Collingwood games at Victoria Park. Not sure who was with them in the commentary box but the call was very much from a Collingwood point of view.
    What a finish on Saturday, great to see Easton Wood play his 50th, hope his hamstrings stay strong and he gets a good extended run.

  7. Neil Anderson says

    All of us Doggy fans keep our fingers crossed when Easton starts running the lines. If those hamstrings pop they’ll be heard as far as his hometown of Camperdown.
    I was going to fit his name into my medieval part of the story because it sounded like it would be suitable for that era. Easton Wood wouldn’t be out of place as a district name as well.
    Thanks for your comments Luke and Daniel

  8. Andrew Starkie says

    well done dogs.

    Neil, I think both our coaches told their teams to just get out there and play after the woeful effort that was rd2

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Neil you as a huge doggies man how didn’t , Kieran McGuiness make it ? As a Norwood follower we rate him a mile in front of a lot of afl defenders , ball use , decision making , courage yes pace ,size a slight issue but his strenghs kill his weaknesses
    Should be a 150 to 200 game afl player

  10. Neil Anderson says

    I must be a bit out of the loop Malcolm, but I don’t I know about Kieran McGuiness.
    I’m waiting hear why Michael Talia is not in the picture at the moment. He is the right size, age and everything to hold down CHB. He didn’t show up in the stats for the VFL game and he is not on the injury list.
    Andrew there was something similar about the Dogs and the Roos and the way they reacted after last week.
    You must have been glad to at least win ugly in Round 2 to kickstart your season.

  11. Wonderful Neil. A great cast of characters, the Silver Fox, Sir Galahad and the dastardly knave who nearly ruined the perfect script..but didn’t!

    Your imagined headlines if we’d lost were comparatively benign. I was seeing


    Mmm, just as well I’m not on sub-editing duty at the papers.

    Thanks for the very entertaining write up Neil.

Leave a Comment