AFL Round 8 – Gold Coast v Western Bulldogs: The Whitten Oval Generals

By Peter Feehan

A reversed Darwinian evolutionary chart would best illustrate Footscray fan’s footballing journey. Ever increasing slumped shoulders, and in the end the only thing you are left with is a rather rudimentary club.

Saturday’s game against the Gold Coast Suns at Carrara was never going to be an easy assignment for the Dogs who had won one from their previous eighteen. The team from Whitten oval are fast becoming the AFL’s answer to the Washington Generals, and Gary Ablett’s mob were sent out $1.70 fav.

The first quarter showed some promise for the Dogs, with Cooney, Griffen and young Jackson Macrae finding a heap of the ball .They controlled centre clearances and should have made more of their numerous opportunities, but, as is the case too often for the Dogs, they were hurt by turnovers, and the Suns kept themselves in the game, taking advantage of some rare forays into their forward 50. Stringer looked lively up forward and Liam Jones made his one and only contribution to the game when he marked and converted, giving the Scraggers  a 12 point lead going into the quarter time break .

The second quarter began with Dahlhaus bursting through half forward but missing a soda from 20, Matt Shaw from the Suns got involved missing one before converting a couple of minutes later.  Ablett was enduring a rotating hard tag from Lower and Picken, and although he had 16 possessions, he was not his highly influential self . Jaeger O’Meara is a special talent for the Suns, he is hard, quick and highly skilled,he also has footy smarts, the definer of greatness , his influence on the game was massive, he helped get the Suns the lead minutes before half time,before the Dogs got one back. At half time the Dogs lead was cut to 5 points

The second half began with big Zac Smith  subbed out after pulling up sore as a result of a muscle strain picked up earlier in the game, but that was the only setback for the Suns in a quarter they dominated. Campbell Brown (a much despised figure by dog’s fans after he king hit Ward behind play a few years earlier) was having a day out and kicked his 3rd in 7 minutes. Sam Day added to the Dogs woes with another, and at 3/4 time the Suns had kicked the last 6, giving them a 31 point lead.

The last quarter started by giving the Dogs some false hope after Stringer then Murphy kicked majors to reduce the margin to 19 points. But the Suns put them to the sword and ran away with a comfortable 32 point win.

The Dogs are awful; Their Captain Mathew Boyd’s post AFL career looks secure, he will be fielding numerous phone calls from Abattoirs in Indonesia and the Middle East, where his unparalleled inhumane slaughter of the cow hide can be best utilized. Footscray had 60 more possessions and 9 more contested possessions (proof that these statistics are irrelevant) .Kicking efficiency and marks inside 50 are the only relevant stats, in the 3rd quarter the dogs were going at 52% ,and for the entire game took 9 marks in the front half.

I find it difficult to equate how abysmal this performance was, I have seen so many of them over the years it’s difficult to rank them, and I reckon this side is capable of producing many many more.

For the Suns, things are going in the right direction, Ablett had a 31 possession game but his impact on the contest was reasonably minimal by his incredibly high standards, in the past Ablett had to put on a clinic to make them merely competitive. They have many things the Dogs crave, pace, height and foot skills. Ironically, the man that put  their playing list together (Scott Clayton), was the man, whose abysmal recruiting at the Dogs left them with a list virtually devoid of 23-28yo players.

For coach McCartney it was another “Hard Day’s Night”, once again post match the clichés flowed, “learning process” (how does a player get to play AFL football and needs to learn the process of kicking, marking and keeping your feet?). He continues to tell all and sundry that the Dogs are on the improve; we rank incredibly high in clearances, hard ball gets and inside 50’s. The hard fact is that he has 6 wins from 30 starts, he is fast chasing down Peter Rohde’s 9 from 45, and the equally appalling Royce Hart’s 8 from 53, that is a dais finish even Tamsyn Lewis would not crave.


 GOLD COAST                   1.3  4.7  11.11  13.15 (93)
WESTERN BULLDOGS    3.4  5.6    6.10    8.13 (61)

Gold Coast:
Brown 3, Matera, Shaw, Hall, Stanley, O’Meara, Hall, Harbrow, Day, May, Bennell
Western Bulldogs: Stringer 3, Markovic 2, Giansiracusa, Jones, Murphy

Gold Coast:
 O’Meara, Brown, Ablett, Thompson, Lonergan
Western Bulldogs: Cooney,Macrae, Griffen,Murphy,Minson

Gold Coast:
Zac Smith (knee)
Western Bulldogs: None

Gold Coast:
Luke Russell on for Zac Smith at half-time
Western Bulldogs: Clay Smith on for Liam Jones in the third quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Hay, Armstrong and Jeffery

Crowd: 13,520

Votes; 3 O’Meara 2 Brown 1 Cooney


  1. Stephen Cooke says

    Welcome aboard cowshedend, terrific stuff. Stan Alves on ABC today ranked the Bulldogs below Melbourne. He said Melbourne don’t have anyone of experience whereas the Bulldogs do, making performances like that against the Suns even worse.

  2. Poor Tamsyn Manou, how does she get spoken of in the same breath as Royce Harts coaching stint ?

    Peter how many years was Scotty Clayton at Western Oval ?

    One of my main perceptions of the period Terry Wallace coached at the Western Oval, was he inherited a develoing group from Terry Wheeler, and Alan Joyce, then introduced no one of any real longevity, beyond Nathan Brown, who followed him to Richmond anyway.


  3. Not the Washington Generals… the Western General Hospital is more appropriate for this mob – surely you can’t count senior/leadership while Jansiraexcuseher is getting a game? He should hand his jumper in and let us start again.

  4. cowshedend says

    Thanks very much Cookie, Bet Mark Neeld must wonder how he endures the blowtorch, whilst McCartney comes through unscathed.

    Cheers Glen, Wallace did inherit a developing list, and as well as taking Brown,he took Jordan McMahon and later Patrick Bowden (something for which i am forever thankful)

    I think Clayton did about 8 drafts at the Dogs, he had a blinder in 1999 and folllowed by 7 years of top 10 picks such as Sam Power,Tom Williams,Farren Ray,Jarrod Grant, and the son of the CEO at North who played one game

  5. cowshedend says

    Yes Crio, Gina’s pathetic marking performances are hilarious, the ball hits the ground and his legs fold up underneath him like an opportunity shop card table.

  6. Cowshedend, please jog my memory as to who was the son of the North Melbourne CEO. Whoever he is,he’s made absolutely no impact upon my memory.


  7. I’m worried Griff – our sole A-grader – has some injury as he is tending to his left too often. Lord knows we cannot play a game without him.
    I had the frightening realisation last night that we need a Markovic (not Brian!) at both ends of the ground! Sad really.

  8. cowshedend says

    Apologies Glen, i could not remember his name, it was Tim Walsh son of Geoff Walsh, taken 4 in the 2002 draft played 1 game in 2005.

    Crio, sadly true,the Markovic idea crossed my mind as well,also the pain still lingers enduring watching Bruce Reids awful 86 games and Alby Smedts 51 games, then see their 3 offspring..oh the pain!

  9. Hey mate

    Some really great lines here. The one about Boyd and the Indonesian abbatoir was seriously warped … I loved it.

  10. Stephen Cooke says

    Scott Clayton continued his form at the Suns, recruiting quality like Campbell Brown, Jared Brennan and Nathan Krakouer. They picked some good kids, but with the amount of choices they had, some would have to pay off.

  11. cowshedend says

    Thanks T-Bone

    Cookie,another stellar year for Clayton was 2006 he took Anderejs Everitt at 11, in the same draft James Frawley at 12 , Jack Riewoldt at 13 Kurt Tippett at 32 and Todd Goldstein at 37..Thank God we don’t need a big key position player who can take a grab!

  12. Neil Anderson says

    I was feeling sick enough about the Bulldogs latest effort, particularly the glimpse into the future…and then I read this litany of home truths. I’ve been waiting for the ‘worse than Melbourne’ comment and there it is thanks to Stan Alves.
    As I wrote in despair at the end of the 2012 season after the flogging by Brisbane, there was nothing, absolutely nothing for fans to look forward to. I screamed into cyber-space for the Club to give us back our hope! Not even a premiership or finals action, but hope! But if a Bulldog fan yells for help out in the wilderness and there’s no-one around to hear him… does he really exist at all?
    Watching our two stalwarts Boyd and Cross, the best trainers with the biggest tanks get run over by the young Suns was the final nail. That and watching our only tall forward get subbed off and listening to commentators saying that Liam is going to be really good in a few years time. Give me strength!
    Just like Bob Murphy said in his column last week that he has to pass the baton to the younger players for future success, I’m going to de-angst for a while and pass the supporter- baton to younger supporters…if there’s anyone left.

  13. Great piece, Peter.

    I’m going to buck the trend here and say that I think we (the Dogs) are in a better state than Melbourne. I don’t have too many stats to support it, but my hunch is that McCartney is right and progress is being made.

    One stat that gives me some heart is that our % is above 70. It’s not much to hang onto, but it’s an indication that there is effort there. We’re not being blown away, we are simply being beaten by sides that aren’t butchering the ball to the level that we are.

    If ball butchery (BB) were a stat, we’d be way out in front, both by hand (BBH) and by foot (BBF). I remain hopeful that this can be turned around quickly, and that confidence plays a big part in it.

    I do worry that McCartney’s contested-ball mantra might be one of an era that’s fast becoming a bygone one, as the top sides seem to be be winning games while losing that stat more and more. If Macca’s a one-trick strategist he could be in big trouble.

    And as good as a teacher as he appears to be (and the players all strongly agree that he is), there’s surely a need for some motivational fire and brimstone at times. Can he provide that?

    Being a non ex-AFL player, McCartney’s coaching performance will always be subject to extra public attention. But as long he has the players on side, he could yet become a very good AFL coach.

    That said, if he gets to the 45-game and 53-game marks with a record the same Rohde and Hart, I might have to concede defeat.

  14. Mic Rees says

    CSE – Nice piece. Commiserations in having to endure Saturday evening. I feel your pain.

    Re: The great coaching debate – Hart v McCartney

    Hart had two lengthy losing streaks as coach, his first 11 games in charge – ave losing margin of just under 8 goals (46+ pts) and a run of 12 without saluting from mid ’81 to early ’82, ave a little over 60 points per loss. His mistake was showing Wilson, Stoneham, Morrison & Foreman the door when there was precious little coming through.

    McCartney’s team lost 11 in a row to finish off last season, the average losing margin around 10 goals per thumping.

    The Hart era included KT, Hawkins and Dunstan. The efforts produced from mid way through last season to the present time I would diplomatically describe “unwatchable”.

    Verdict: Bring back Royce.


  15. cowshedend says

    Neil, i feel your pain, i re-read your piece featuring Neil the Naive to give me solace.

    Thanks Gigs, i tend to be with you that it is all about the list and little to do with the coach..mind you it has taken a few days of sticking my head in ice buckets to come to that conclusion.

    Thanks Mic, I was there for Harts duck breaker against the Roys at the Junction oval, a chap who wore no. 14 in that game (well known to Gigs as well) invited me down to the rooms after the game, there was plenty of KB flowing that night… and it tasted like swill!

  16. Peter, I have no doubt that the chap who wore no. 14 and let you into the rooms after that game would now be remembered for much more than certain Hawaii flight antics had both his knees not given way early in his career.

    A fine player and a very fine person.

  17. Lovely piece. By comparison, the Dogs are appalling.

  18. Jackson Macrae has got the Rising Star nom I believe – good effort in a terrible team performance against a side of young guns.

  19. Chris Kouteris says

    Great article Mr. Pete….enjoyed reading it a couple of times.
    Mic, correct me if I am wrong but did we win 3 in a row under Roycey after that 11 game losing streak – I vaguely recall going from 0 and 11 to 3 and 11 and finals contention for a memorable 7 days.
    I think if you really want an accurate description as to where the Club is at and where it has been the last couple of years.
    IF you want brutal honesty about where the Club is at listen to Mark McClure…I think unfortunately he is right on the money…
    Great read Pete…

  20. Great article Peter. The long suffering dog supporter in all of us knows deep down that we will never really be any good. Play finals occasionally (and choke) and then be like they are now – a complete and utter rabble. My 2 cents worth re the coach is that Royce Hart is Malcolm Blight compared to Brendan McCartney. The man has no idea – of course the players love him because they get off scott free using his mantra of “still learning and improving”. How long does that take if you have 10 players who have played over 100 games? Might as well bring back James Mulligan. Looking at the draw we won’t win another game until we play GWS and that’s no certainty.

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