An angel in our corner

What a strange week of conflicting stories emanating from the Footscray Football Club.


At times it was like the old joke about being a sense of deja vu all over again. Most of the news was no joke however, especially coming from the MRP. Jack Redpath, one of our few talls available, received three weeks suspension after challenging his penalty for ‘pushing’ away Phil Davis with an open hand. With Davis reeling away like he was hit with an anvil, the MRP deemed it was initially worth a three-weeks penalty down to two with a guilty plea.


Luke Dahlhaus wasn’t concussed and resumed playing when he was karate-kicked by Toby Greene. A bloodied face and stitches in his jaw wasn’t enough of a bad outcome for Luke according to the MRP, so Greene was fined rather than suspended.


The Bulldogs’ next opponent is Port Adelaide. I watched their match against Collingwood to check their form before they play the Dogs at Ballarat on Saturday. I felt sure Oliver Wines would not be playing next week after he collected a Collingwood player in the head with his shoulder. But it was not to be. The idea that any contact with the head means suspension did not apply in this instance and Wines received a fine only. Like Luke Dahlhaus, the Collingwood player was back on his feet quickly. It appears the severity of the injury over-rides the illegal act itself when the MRP  impose their penalties.


The MRP decisions in particular made a lot of the Bulldog supporters feel like they were being thrown back to the bad old days. You could pick any era for ‘the bad old days’ prior to the 2016 premiership triumph, but for me I only wanted to look back to the end of 2014. Beaten in the last match of season by GWS (there’s that team again), with the captain and coach exiting and the CEO as well.


I started writing for the Almanac in 2012 and up to the end of 2014 it was stories mainly of tragedy and despair. Lots of pessimism about the future of the Bulldogs backed up by an unhealthy dose of conspiracy theories. I remember commiserating with Almanacker Yvette Wroby about the plight of our two teams, the Saints and the Bulldogs. Railing against ‘the system’ that retarded any progress towards our second premierships. The two new extension teams with their priority draft-picks were the main target of my venom at least. Enter Bob Murphy we need you.


At some of the lowest points there was a brief questioning of why we persisted in barracking for teams that seemed to be years away from that second premiership. Yvette and I agreed it was the quality of people at our clubs that gave us a flicker of hope for the future, especially those players who were one-club players. Champions who stayed and passed on their skills of football and leadership to the next wave of recruits such as Marcus Montempelli. Now enter the ring Bob Murphy. It’s your time.


Because the club was at such a low ebb, it was hard to see Bob Murphy as the right person to lead the Bulldogs out of the mire. I loved his writing in The Age and his musical connections, but did he have a hard edge to give a player a spray when required? I saw him as more like a hippy full of peace and love who would be friends with everyone. I mentioned my doubts to a Hawthorn supporter and he said, “Yeah. He’s not like Luke Hodge is he!”


Along with his soul-mate Luke Beveridge, Bob has proved me wrong. With leadership there is obviously more than one way to skin a cat. I can imagine Bob quietly speaking to his team-mates one- on- one before they run out and they would feel obliged not to let the great man down by putting in a poor performance. Nine times out of ten he would he show his skills on the ground so he would lead by example as well. Walking the walk as well as talking the talk.


I’m glad Luke Beveridge included Bob in that group of the most influential players in the history of the Footscray Football Club which included Whitten, Sutton and Grant. Players who just happened to be one-club players. I’ll be forever grateful we had  Bob as our angel in the corner overseeing the premiership when the club was down for the count only two years earlier. Thank you Bob.





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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. Great work Neil. Bobby seemed to fit the mould very well at the Doggies. The closest I can get to, who resembled Murphy in the Geelong context, would be Tom Harley. Quiet, nice bloke, polite, a thinker, but hard as nails in his determination to bring the boys along with him.

    Great career Bob. It will be interesting to see what he does next.

  2. G’day Neil,

    I had thought Bob was a right man to lead Bulldogs as he has been positive and never give up attitudes. His positive thoughts on winning the flag brought Footscray the second premiership last year.

    You mention us about similarity between Bulldogs and St Kilda. It’s a good point. Fans are diehards with passions and loyalty. And I think Bob and Saint Nick have common things and indeed are good friends.

    I admire Bob and follow his Instagram.

    Cheers Bob and Neil,


  3. Yep. Bob Murphy was everyone’s fave player from another club. Our renaissance man in liniment and short pants. He should have been an Eagles player. His mum said so at last year’s Footy Almanac GF lunch. Bloody Catholics. Bloody power of prayer. Bloody divine intervention.
    You were blessed to have him. I guess we all were.
    Would love to see your ranking in order of all time great Bulldogs players. EJ/Bob/JSchultz/SWynd/BJ/CG????
    I have a feeling Bont might nearly top the list in 10 years time.
    Keep the faith. You have God (or at least Mrs Murphy) on your side.

  4. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Dips. Yes it’s hard to find someone comparable to Bob. He is unique. Tom Harley comes close as a decent man and respected leader. I don’t know about Bob’s education, but if he was at uni with Tom he would be part of the Arts Faculty and Tom would be doing an MBA. I see Tom was mentioned as a likely candidate to replace Gil’s off-sider. Let’s hope he is that moral upstanding citizen we think he is.
    Yoshi, yes there are similarities with Saint Nick and Bob. I didn’t realize they were friends. Unfortunately for Doggy supporters Nick has been the one to stop our chance to participate in a couple of GFs. We forgive him now he’s retired.
    Peter, I must have been thinking of divine intervention when I said Bob was our angel in our corner. It worked out ok during the finals last year but not so good when he went down with his knee injury in April.
    Briefly my ranking for the influential Dogs are EJ, Sutton, Bob, Grant and Schultz with the Bont to be part of that group in about five years time. Hopefully a full set of Dogs for life.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Very sad to see Bob go. As you point out Neil, good leadership comes in many different forms.
    Will be interested to see what Bob does in the future. He ruled out coaching and politics (wisely) on AFL360 last night.
    Thanks for the excellent words on a wonderful man.

  6. Peter Fuller says

    The retirement announcements of several distinguished AFL players in the last couple of weeks has inspired some superb appreciations in the MSM. However, Almanac contributors do not suffer by comparison. This week with Bob Murphy calling time on himself has been especially notable with Neil’s piece as well as Anna Pavlov’s doing justice to their subject and contending for the three votes.

    I know that the observation has been offered by many writers, but I associate it with Garrison Keillor, that you shouldn’t meet your heroes, because illusions are likely to be destroyed by reality. I haven’t met Bob Murphy, but feel that I “know” him, because he has been so forthcoming about himself in his published writing, and it seems that there is no significant gap between the public figure and the private man. I doubt that he has ever been guilty of behaving less than honorably on the field of play, which is remarkable given the length of his career and the pressure imposed on contemporary players.

    In all our admiration of Bob’s values and his self-awareness, we must never forget that he was a great footballer. Anyone who plays at such a consistently high standard for more than 300 games over eighteen seasons is an exceptional player. There is no sense that he is coasting towards the end, as he continues to be a major contributor as a player, to say nothing of his outstanding leadership.

  7. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Luke. You would think our good neighbour Easton would take over the captaincy after his wonderful efforts last year. It kinda backs up what I was saying about good people at the club making the difference when things aren’t going well. A clone of Bob in every way…not sure if their musical tastes are the same. Bont will be waiting in the wings to continue the legacy.
    Peter, I think you summed it up nicely when you said, ” Anyone who plays at such a consistently high standard for more than 300 games over eighteen seasons is an exceptional player.” Thank you.

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