AFL Round 8 – Melbourne v Western Bulldogs: Melbourne plays ‘catch-up’ footy against the Dogs

Football games generally confirm to one of a handful of basic patterns, or templates. The commonest is that Team A leads at quarter time and half time. (The quarter time lead is not critical, but the half time lead most definitely is.) Team B makes a surge in the third quarter. It may or may not hit the front, but it at least closes the gap. In the final quarter, Team A reasserts its dominance, and goes on to win the game.

Strangely, it doesn’t seem to matter all that much whether Team A is ahead by ten goals or one point at half time. As long as it is ahead, it will probably win the game.

I have never seen stats published on this. It is not in anybody’s commercial interest to do so. However I would say, from my experience, that on about 80% of occasions, the half time leader eventually triumphs.

Last night against the Dogs, Melbourne was Team B. For most of the game, the football was very close. It felt almost ‘goal for goal’, which was deceptive. It was close catch-up footy, but it was still catch-up, and it’s not the way to win matches.

When Melbourne hit the front in the third quarter it was very exciting, of course, but a little voice in the back of my head – which I tried to ignore – was telling me this was nothing but the surge.

So, indeed, it proved to be, with the Bulldogs very quickly re-establing their lead at the start of the final quarter, and going on to win by 16 points in the end, probably the largest margin of the game.

Of course I am being very tough on Melbourne. Of course, for a Melbourne supporter, there were many positives to take away from the game. Of course, it should be acknowledged that, once again, they were highly competitive when so often in recent times they have not.

But let us also remember that footy is a very hard game, and you have to be very hard nosed to win. Melbourne supporters have been subjected to far too many displays of catch-up footy over the years. It might off you brief flurries of excitement, but you walk out of the stadium with lead in your boots.

Once again last night, Melbourne played catch-up footy – and lost.

About Stephen Whiteside

Stephen Whiteside is primarily a writer of rhyming verse. He has been writing for over thirty years, and writes for both adults and children. Many of his poems have been published in magazines and anthologies, both in Australia and overseas, or won awards. His collection of rhyming verse for children, "'The Billy That Died With Its Boots On' and Other Australian Verse", was published by Walker Books in May 2014. Stephen performs regularly at folk festivals around the country - mostly in Victoria. He is also a great fan of the Australian poet C. J. Dennis. He is a foundation member of the C. J. Dennis Society, and is closely involved in the organisation of the annual Toolangi C. J. Dennis Poetry Festival. Stephen is a long-suffering Melbourne supporter.


  1. Maybe so, but at least they are not as bad to watch this year as in previous. Really pleased to see them having a go. But that is from a non supporter of them. Good luck to them, and also to the doggies.

  2. No, that’s a fair comment. Just frustrating, that’s all. I do think it’s critical that they really aim to be in front at half-time. No doubt they already do, but it’s no good being ‘within striking distance’, because the ‘strike’ usually never comes – not just for Melbourne, for any team.

  3. Stephen congratulations to both sides for the role they played in publicising the issue of breast cancer. The AFL, and its teams have become very active in recent times, highlighting a number of important issues in our community. Working in community health two themes i’d like to see taken up are mental health, and the vexed area of domestic violence. Mental health problems are an area which we are becoming more aware of, with a number of high profile cases of sporting figures,and their struggles such as Ian Thorpe and Mitch Clark. Wayne Schwass has spoken of the idea of a mental health round, and it is one worth having. Similarily the blight of domestic viollence is a huge problem in our community, and if the AFL coud be proactive sending a strong message on this it wokld be great. Anyhow, enough of my soapbox for now .


  4. Yes, they are both good ideas, Glen. My only comment would be that, if domestic violence is to be tackled, it not be made gender specific. While I realise that the vast majority of offenders are male, there are also female offenders, and to ignore this just leaves their male victims feeling more isolated than ever.

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