AFL Round 5 – Western Bulldogs v Carlton: Carlton Restores Status Quo After Backalley Blue

Western Bulldogs versus Carlton

4.40 pm, Sunday, 20th April 2014

Etihad Stadium


Neil Anderson



The public-service announcements seem to be even more plentiful these days. We have gone from instructing school children in the 40’s and 50’s to ‘duck for cover’ and hide under their desks if a ‘bomb’ is about to be dropped, to  general health announcements about AIDS- awareness and quitting smoking.

In the last few years Big Brother has also tried to stamp out the nastiness of bullying in the workplace and school-yard. I thought I might have been beaten to the punch writing about a bullying theme when I read Shane Crawford’s article in the paper this morning. However, he was referring to bullying in the workplace by describing how taggers go about their business and what the taggees can do to beat them.

Whenever the Bulldogs are about to play Carlton, I feel that sense of intimidation by a bully before the match starts. The Bulldogs have been bullied for far too long, but the tide is turning.

So it is a history of this once-powerful club with its wealthy backers that makes me wary about facing the Club today, even if they’ve started the season 0-4.

It’s not so much a state of mind after being bullied as a child. Amazingly enough for a slightly-built, timid kid from the mean streets of Footscray, I was never really bullied at home or at school. To be truthful, it was more Pleasantville than the Bronx, so it’s not too surprising I had an easy run. Loving football and often wearing my Footscray jumper with Number 3 on the back also helped me blend in with the pack and made me less of a target. No glasses at that stage helped as well.

But there was this one time when a bully did strike…

Half-way home from school at the rear of the Olympic tyre factory where no-one can hear you scream, the big Grade Four kid made his move. But it was one of his ‘seconds’, a snotty-nosed street- urchin who let me know ‘Rocky’ wanted to bash me up.

Because I came from a non-aggressive, non-violent home, my only reference point for a fist-fight came from the Saturday afternoon cowboy pictures at the Roxy Theatre in Maidstone. The white-hat heroes used to cop the first couple of punches from the black-hat baddies, but they’d simply shake their head, rub their jaw briefly and of course end up winning the fight.

And there was never any blood spilt by the heroes, so that made me feel a bit better and therefore keep control of my bladder a little longer.

So more like the nerdy Gary Cooper defending his town than a swaggering John Wayne, I got one of my seconds to hold the  school-bag as this particular craven- coward prepared to face his own ‘High Noon’.

Thankfully it only lasted a few minutes. The bully had a round-arm swinging action as he tried he tried to knock my head into the next suburb while I instinctively ducked each time. Not having a clue how to use my fists of course. Each time he swung a punch and missed my head, he slammed his knuckles into the paling fence. After about the fourth time and sick of being stoic about feeling the pain, he stopped to examine his bleeding knuckles. This gave me the chance to slip away. My first and only fight in the Primary School Weight -Division and I won on a TKO!  All I had to do after that was to find a different way home from school for the next three years.

The only segue back to the Carlton Football Club and being bullied I can think of involves their head bully and antagonist John Elliott. The mega-rich, cigar-chomping ex-President who famously called the Footscray Football Club ‘tragic’. Not ‘tragic’ in the satirical, humorous sense that became the basis for a blog written by Bulldog stalwart Kerrie, but in the nasty, bullying sense. What he was really saying was that Footscray is so poor and pathetic,  they can’t even go out and buy up the best players from interstate like we do. “ No wonder they haven’t won a second premiership!”, he would bellow.  But the tide is turning.

With the poor start to the season, even Carlton supporters are critical of their own Club. Especially its recruiting policy which has seen a top- up of experienced players from other clubs rather than develop young recruits like Geelong and now the Western Bulldogs have done.

Instant success isn’t working like it did in the 1980’s and the bullies are turning on each other. I just hope they aren’t motivated by all the criticism they’ve copped this week.

Apart from the intimidating people at the Club, there was something about that navy-blue colour that made them different from all the other teams…especially Footscray.

Whether it was the blue-bloods and its royal association or the Liberals’ blue suit and tie brigade, the colour reeks of money and power. In contrast, Footscray has the French tri-colours representing the disenfranchised mob fighting the establishment and maintaining the rage.  Matt Zurbo summed it up recently as to why he would like to be a Bulldog supporter. He said, “ Your very existence is an act of defiance.”

Today the Carlton hierarchy won’t be contemplating being beaten by a team from the western suburbs even after losing the first four games, such is their ‘born- to- rule’ mentality. If the Bulldogs win they won’t have to even consider the ‘us against them’ motivation next time they play. Hopefully, it will be a just another match against a team on the decline.

I always look for the body-language of both teams as they run through the banners. I am probably wrong, but the Bulldogs seem to be a bit more animated and ready for the challenge while the Blues are slightly subdued.

How wrong I was. The last thing the Bulldogs wanted was a slow start and allow that confidence followed quickly by arrogance to take over the Blues. Something that had been missing for the last few weeks.

Seven goals to three in the opening quarter and I started to feel like my younger self bailed up by the bully in the back-streets of Footscray. Just like I needed a body-guard back then, the Bulldogs needed their own back-up down back as they were being bullied by the Carlton tall forwards. Jordon Roughead and Dale Morris were sorely missed to make it an even fight.

Six goals to five in the second quarter evened things up slightly but the Dogs were still five goals down at half time with Crameri kicking the last goal just before the siren. The biggest worry for the Dogs was the fact that they were getting beaten out of the centre with Murphy and Gibbs deciding that this match would be the one to pull their finger out. The much taller and criticised Warnock was beating the all-Australian Minson in the ruck.

Three goals to four in the third quarter in favour of the dogs gave supporters some hope but for diehards who had seen it all before, if we start slow and try and catch up, we need everything to go right. For example a Carlton player can’t get a free kick because a Bulldog player waves his hands in the air as he is standing near the mark just because the umpire decides to invoke some rule he pulled out of his backside!

As my wife would say, “What would Jack Dyer say about that one?”

The last quarter and as I suspected the confidence built up by the Blues in the first three quarters did not wane. Despite the sub-Judd doing a hammy after a five-minute run in the third quarter, the Blues ran out the match easily. It’s amazing how easy it looks to hit targets and find space when you’ve led all day and your much maligned leaders have found form.

I couldn’t watch the last five minutes but I know Carlton won by 28 points.

One of the headings I first envisaged for this bully-themed report was, ‘ Winning Well Is The Best Revenge’. I’ll obviously have to change that now. But first I need some time out before I decide on a new one because I feel like I’ve been pummelled after being caught in an unexpected ambush.

Carlton   7.3  13.6  16.9  18.11   119

W. Bulldogs 3.3 8.6 12.8 13.13  91


Carlton: Henderson 5, Waite 3, Scotland 2, Murphy 2, Everitt, Gibbs, Yarran, Ellard, Thomas, Bell.

W. Bulldogs: Crameri 4, Stevens 2, Dahlhaus 2, Jong, Cooney, Giansiracusa, Boyd, Wallis.


Carlton: Murphy, Gibbs, Curnow, Henderson, Simpson, Waite, Carrazzo, Walker.

W. Bulldogs: Dahlhaus, Griffin, Crameri, Boyd, Macrae.

Umpires: Jeffery, Kamolins, Burgess.

Official Crowd: 27,986

Our Votes: 3 Murphy (Carlton) 2 Henderson (Carlton) 1 Crameri (W. Bulldogs)



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. John Butler says

    Awww, c’mon Neil, We’re hardly bullies. Just naughty boys.

    It’s quite a while since Carlton were able to bully anyone.

    And as for backers, don’t forget you got the good Smorgon.


  2. Neil Anderson says

    You can be naughty boys while still thinking your the messiahs.
    Your right about the Dogs winning the last couple of rounds by standing up to the bullies.
    The trouble is if there is a history of bullying you never know when the big guys are going to regroup and teach the upstarts a lesson…like they did on Sunday.
    And yes, we did get the good Smorgan who helped save the Club in 1996. Just one of the many Club stalwarts that deserve to see some success hopefully in the near future.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Neil good write up and amusing how you won your fight ! Bulldogs guy running in to a open goal and trying to be too cute in 2nd q ( I think ) was vital . Bulldogs missed
    Roughhead and Morris big game against crows this week . Thanks Neil

  4. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks for the comments Malcolm.
    Ironically the Bulldogs could have done with a few more bullies of their own on Sunday. Until they recruit more power forwards, backs and ruckmen to help Minson we will always struggle.
    Compare our lineup with the Cats and Hawks on Monday. Not just their talent but their size.
    I hope they can rebound on Sunday and if you could tell the Crow’s hierarchy to take it easy on the little guys, it would be appreciated.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    As a pies fan, was right behind the Bulldogs watching the game on Sunday night. Always disappointing losing to Carlton, whether it’s your own team or someone else’s.
    Nice to see Mrs Anderson get a mention!

  6. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks for your comments Luke.
    It’s not often I mention ‘Mrs Anderson’ in regard to football. But when a ridiculous rule suddenly effects my team and I scream out in anguish, she does occasionally ask me what happened. Whether it’s a soft free-kick or the players complaining about a bit of rain, being the historian she is, she harks back to the Jack Dyer days when men were men and then muses on how the game has changed.
    By the way Mrs A has moved on from teaching but has never stopped being a student herself. As my very being is controlled by the state of the Bulldogs, Sharyn is currently looking for a supervisor to commence her PHD. It will be literature based, but if it was psychology based she could easily do a study based on the reasons Bulldog supporters continue to barrack for a team with more downs than ups.

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