AFLW Round 4 – Western Bulldogs v Carlton: Being ‘Glass Half Full’ for the Blues

Western Bulldogs v Carlton

Friday 23rd February 7.05 p.m.

Whitten Oval

Peter Fuller


A Carlton team depleted by injury and a significant suspension encountered Western Bulldogs at the peak of their game. What looked in prospect to be a challenging assignment proved to be that – and some. The Dogs dominated the match and inflicted a humiliating loss on the Blues. In contrast, Katie Brennan’s absence from the Bulldogs’ line-up due to injury was barely noticeable.


Like many more experienced football teams before them, the visitors were flummoxed by the Whitten Oval wind, which seemed (atypically) to favour the Geelong Road end, even if it was mild in comparison to many occasions in the memory. Carlton kicked in that direction in the opening quarter and in fact managed some early forward thrusts. However no fewer than five kicks found their way over the boundary. With the experimental rule of a free kick against the side which puts the ball across the line, the Bulldogs were thus easily able to snuff out these attacks, and proceeded to hold the visitors scoreless for the quarter. On the counter-attack, Bonnie Toogood drew the first of a number of frees and produced the only goal of the opening term, although the home side also scored four behinds.


The ten point margin which the Dogs had established into the wind seemed ominous, but the scale of the 2nd quarter blitz was scarcely envisaged. They ran in five goals four in just eighteen minutes, a score often not achieved by AFLW teams in a full game. The heroine was Brooke Lochland who secured four of the goals during the quarter, to equal the prior full match record for a single player in the competition. Alas, the Blues failed to call the goal umpire into action, and by the end of the half seemed completely demoralised.


When Carlton delayed their return to the field for three minutes after the umpires and the Bulldogs for the resumption, it seemed that they might be considering a forfeit. However the game did resume and the Blues mounted something of a revival late in this quarter, with Lauren Arnell managing a behind and following up with two goals, which matched what the Bulldogs scored in this term. This gave Arnell the rare distinction of providing her team’s total score.


The final quarter followed the pattern established in the first half, with the Bulldogs dominant across the whole field to the delirium of the substantial home team support. Only some errant kicking, including a couple of posters, prevented them from topping the century. As it was, a record high score and winning margin were recorded. Lochland also extended her picnic, adding a further three goals to establish a competition record seven goals for a single player, which may well last for some time.


I had to consult that estimable publication “The Women’s Footy Almanac 2017 (editors S. Connell, J. Harms & Y. Wroby)” to discover that the aggregate score fell just three points short of the record – oddly enough established in the 2017 fixture between these two sides at Princes Park. On that occasion the margin was a modest six points with the Blues victorious.


Gun players Emma Kearney and Ellie Blackburn provided plenty of drive from midfield and Monique Conti was also highly effective. Bonnie Toogood’s three goals would have been sufficient to outscore the Blues, and under normal circumstances, she would have been seen as a matchwinner. Of course her commendable performance was completely overshadowed by Lochland’s extraordinary game.


There was a surprising revelation in the stats for the match, as Carlton almost matched the Bulldogs for inside 50’s 29-30. The gulf on the scoreboard demonstrated the ease and efficiency with which the daughters of the west were able to convert their forward movements in comparison to their ineffectual opponents.


My most recent previous visit to Whitten Oval was to attend a forum of Labor Party members some six years ago. This event was held in the Social Club, hosted by (then Cabinet Ministers) Nicola Roxon and Jenny Macklin, addressing the issue which  episodically confronts this organisation – as well as many others – the momentous question first posed by Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) What is to be Done?


In the aftermath of Friday night, it is quite likely that Carlton decision-makers left Whitten Oval confronted by this question.


The implications of this match are clear. Western Bulldogs are serious contenders and probably title favourites. Their emphatic response to last week’s unlucky loss in Adelaide was as unequivocal as the evident determination to improve on the disappointment of 2017. Then injuries hampered the team when prior to the season they were expected to be major players.


The Blues are now fated to play out the remainder of the season with depleted personnel, and no prospect of featuring in the final. The heady expectations pre-season, fuelled by their wins in their opening two matches have now been replaced by a fatalistic acceptance of this season’s inevitable remaining weeks. It is now apparent that Collingwood (notwithstanding their impressive win this weekend) and GWS are strugglers in the same region of the ladder as the Blues. The reality check from Brisbane and Western Bulldogs, coupled with injury to key players has cruelled Carlton’s hopes.


As I’m a glass half full sort of guy, I was searching for some compensatory elements in a dire night.


  • The Pride uniforms of both teams looked impressive, and this was a worthy initiative.
  • I caught up with John Butler and Andrew Gigacz.
  • Sarah Hosking, Breann Moody, Lauren Arnell and Alison Downie kept putting in.
  • I received a complimentary ice cream, as I left the ground.
  • The Carlton women scored two goals which exceeded the product of the Blues’ males on a dark winter’s day in 1991; Mark Arceri – in an otherwise unspectacular period at Princes Park – spared the Blues’ blushes by scoring a late goal. That day the men did manage 10 behinds and kept the losing margin to 41 points, so had two criteria in which they bettered the AFLW team on Friday night.
  • It wouldn’t be a partisan report without my noting the free kick count was 17-7. Whether this was due to Carlton players fulfilling Oscar Wilde’s expectations about football [i], whether the Bulldogs proved more efficient at drawing free kicks, or that the umpires were homers, I would have to fall back on the Francis Urquhart formula [ii] for whichever explanation an observer might choose: “you might well say that, I couldn’t possibly comment”. Obviously the margin would not have been overturned by even the most outrageous pro-Carlton bias by officials wearing the green uniforms.



WESTERN BULLDOGS         1.4     6.8     8.9      12.14     (86)
CARLTON                               0.0     0.0     2.1        2.1       (13)

Western Bulldogs: 
Lochland 7, Toogood 3, Blackburn, Bruton
Carlton: Arnell 2

Western Bulldogs:
 Lochland, Kearney, Scott, Toogood, Blackburn, Conti
Carlton: S Hosking, Arnell, Moody, Gay

Western Bulldogs: 
Carlton: Nil

Reports: Nil 

Umpires: Mirabile, Rowe, Howorth

Official crowd: 8987 at Whitten Oval



[i] Football is all very well as a game for rough girls, but it is hardly suitable for delicate boys.

[ii] The scheming figure in the British version of the political thriller, House of Cards.



Peter Fuller was a contributor to The Women’s Footy Almanac 2017. Read more about the book HERE





  1. Tough to keep the Carlton glass half full when it’s lying smashed on the floor, Peter. Though I appreciate the effort.

    Boy oh boy did this game bring back some bad Western Oval memories.

    Those Western Oval winds have been the mystification of many a visiting forward.


  2. Neil Anderson says

    Aaaarh! That wind she blows somethin’ fierce especially for visitors from across the river. Just in case the opposition prepared for a southerly they copped a northerly.
    The Mark Arceri lone goal to avoid embarrassment has gone down in folklore. I think I was there that day because I remember it so clearly. Like I remembered every Bulldog win over the Blues back then. Easy to remember when it happened so rarely.
    You have set the bar high Peter quoting Lenin and Oscar Wilde. I wonder if Oscar would have approved of the ‘Pride’ game especially if, as he predicted, it was played by rough girls rather than delicate boys. I won’t guess the likely witty retort from the master, but I’m sure he would be thinking he could have avoided jail-time if he lived in the 21st Century.

  3. Peter Fuller says

    Thanks John and Neil for the comments. I’m happy to say that I missed the Arceri match, excused by parental duties ferrying my son to various matches in a weekend basketball tournament. I do have a recollection of listening to the last quarter commentary, with perhaps Tim Lane riding the goal home. I also recall reading about a 1950s match in which Fitzroy were held to a single score, a goal (i.e. 1.0.6) scored in the final quarter on a waterlogged Western Oval.

  4. Yvette Wroby says

    Great work Peter,

    it is a wonder how we can always remember the failures down to the minute details. A glass of whisky might help.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Peter, I wonder whether Mark Arceri cringes when that goal and game is brought up, or happy to be remembered for it?
    Enjoyed your write up.
    Any night at the footy with J.Butler and A.Gigacz is a good night.

  6. Positive thoughts in bullets are impressive. Even the big loss to your beloved Blues, finding positively is what I admire. Good work Peter!

    By the way, the Labor Party Forum at the Written Oval was held because Julia Gillard, the number one ticket holder as a Dogs member was PM at the time?


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