Doggies For Life



Brian Lake, Bob Murphy, Jarrad Harbrow and Ben Hudson are my favorite AFL players, which is funny, because I don’t barrack for Footscray.

As a backman, I’ve always loved Lake. Takes on the game on his terms. Backs himself, plays on. Gets all stroppy, heart on sleeve. I mean, he has talent and is a workhorse. He takes no flashy marks, just reads it. He just goes – for pack marks, for runs.

To Hawthorn, even.

Watching him win Normie last year sorta validated a lot. I mean, I even bet on him to win the thing. Maybe that’s why I’m finding it hard to get into this season? Supporter Premiership hangover? For a bloke in the piss and poo stripes!? Maybe I’m just confused a bit?

Good to see Huddo’s still kicking along, too. Which club is he at these days? How many are left?

I interviewed Geoff Raines for my Oral History book the other week. He was meant to be a Doggie at the start. Robbie McGhie was just about the biggest legend I’ve met doing this book! His story of how he left the Dogs and walked into two Premierships at Tigerland is golden!

Barry Round said a bit about his time at the Western Oval, before we talked about his Brownlow with the Swans. I’m sure Garry Dempsey will mention the Bulldogs, too, and the Brownlow he won, before the flags he got at North. Templeton, Brian Wilson, Brownlows? What, another one?! Quinlan, yep. At the Roys, thanks Dogs. At least Brad Hardie had the common courtesy to win his Charlie before he moved on!

Jeez, poor Gary Bull Baker, the Wild Man from the Tassie Mountains! He must have thought leaving Footscray was a Brownlow shoe-in! All he won at the Demons was a b&f!

Simon Beasley was a true servant of the club, right to the end of his playing days. But, then again, he got there late.

Harbrow was so exciting I would watch just to see him take them on! How good was it when the skinny little half-backer gave big, elite Scarlett from mighty Geelong the big “Don’t argue!” at full place, tipping him on his arse!

I really hope he’s enjoying the Suns.

I mean, Chris Grant stayed, and jeez, we all thought he was a Champion just for being loyal! Collingwood have a bazillion of those blokes!

Even Dougie left at the end!
If Jesus was buried in a Bulldog jumper he’d come back three days later in a Bomber one!

Robbie said it was because they’ve always been broke. Any talent had to be sold for liferafts.

My mate summed it up better, though. Tony’s been barracking for the Dogs all of his 42 years. “They’ve never played a Grand Final in my lifetime,” he forlornly told me. “And never will. Other clubs will offer better post football jobs, deals to their families, better facilities, bigger success. Look at Ward. We did all the hard work, built him up to be our future champion. Nursed him through the early rough years. Gone. I could name half-a-dozen like him. That day Libba’s goal was called a point was our last shot at a flag. It broke my passion for the game. Good up-and-coming players aren’t from our zone anymore. They’ve got no reason to stay beyond their draft obligations.”

I spoke to a three-time Premierhsip player who also had a few years with the Dogs.

“It’s funny,” he said. The whole Underdog thing, they lived it. It was their identity. We’d take it up to the top clubs, the Carltons and Collingwoods, and Richmonds, because we were the underdogs! Then we’d get bowled by teams we were expected to beat. Great bunch of blokes! The absolute, absolute best! But it was like they had a club culture of hard knocks, and my old one had one of Flags.”

I see it a little different.
When you have no money or success you can still have pride, and that’s worth a lot. Also you know why your supporters are there. Because they love the club. People like Bob Murphy continue to play for you because they love the club. I reckon, as a lover of footy, and of the bigger picture, these things mean everything.

I’ll always barrack for you, Doggies, even though I don’t barrack for you.  You’re very existence is an act of defiance.

I reckon, if the Western Bulldogs weaned a player, he should be made to play for them for life!



  1. Cest magnifique Zurbs!

    I grew up in the Dogs recruiting zone and I played with plenty of kids who could easily have made the grade at VFL/AFL level (Anthony Eames – the Michael Barlow prototype – immediately springs to mind). Sadly the only western suburbs kid who actually got on to the senior list from my ‘generation’ was the tragic Ron James. The St Albans kids like Kretiuk and Kolyniuk were super, but Altona, Willi Juniors, Werribee and Hoppers Crossing had some tough nuts who would have added extra steel and attitude to that 90-98 list.

    From J.A’s comment about the underdog culture being prevalent at the Kennel, it would seem that the Plough’s immortal “If I see one bloke walk out of here getting a pat on the back from people out there for a good effort, I will spew up” line has gone by the wayside.

  2. Matt, don’t live a lie any longer. We press your buttons, we rouse you, and dare I say, we keep you up nights. Time to come out of the closet, mate. It’s never too late!

  3. Cowshedend says

    Good on you Matt, just for the record Dempsey and Templeton won their Brownlows whilst still at the Dogs.
    Amazing survivors, in an era when club allegiance is linked to success rather than family ties.
    Only Saints fans could have even a modicum of insight of what life is like following the Dogs.
    Hawthorn was ready to merge with Melbourne after 4 long years without a flag!
    It has been in 2 GF’s since entering the league in1925 (both when Menzies was PM, very galling for a Trade Union based club), could you imagine Essendon and Carlton enduring through that?
    The league insists we need strong a strong Swans as well as the expansion clubs, but couldn’t give a toss about the Dogs. Our lot is to take Sunday twilights and Mothers day keep fronting up and keep getting kicked, the clubs motto is ‘Cede Nullis’, which translates as Yield to No-one, this unfortunately is the ethos of its supporter base and has never been embraced by the playing group!

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great read Old Dog lots of possible conclusions v hard to change culture and breed actual consistent success that’s where Geelong are to be admired reviewing there whole club making even subtle changes , Brian Cook is he a genius ? Highlights how little things such as Libbas kick could have changed football history
    Shows how clubs losing there zone re recruiting with the draft has meant there is not the same connection with the area with the club anymore which is a huge loss to the game
    Enjoyed this piece Old Dog made me reflect and really think

  5. Bob Speechley says

    An article about The Bulldogs and no mention of EJ Whitten who was the life and soul of the club for years. I maintain he was the inspiration behind many of the Charlie’s won by Doggie players and ex players over the period starting with John Schulz from Mirboo North. EJ’s legacy lingers and Bulldog fans shouldn’t be too dispirited as there are some positive signs there with the younger brigade!

  6. Oh and it’s easy from the cheap seats, but Former Bulldog-turned-Melbourne on-baller Brian Wilson is going to be super pissed that his Brownlow was given to Firtzroy star Gary Wilson.

  7. Jesus or Judas???
    Love your work, Matt.

  8. Neil Anderson says

    There has been lots of discussion on other Bulldog web-sites trying to answer the question as to why we stick with the Dogs when there is so much going against us.
    You have summed it up as well as anyone as a non supporter of the Bulldogs:
    ” When you have no money or success you can still have pride, and that’s worth a lot.
    Also you know why the supporters are there because they love the Club.”
    And even more succinctly and closer to my belief, you said, ‘ Yes, the Club’s very existence is an act of defiance.”
    I will use that last statement from now on whenever I’m explaining why I’m a Bulldog for life.

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