Finals Week 3: Western Bulldogs and the existence of unicorns



Outside the street’s on fire in a real death waltz
Between what’s flesh and what’s fantasy
And the poets down here don’t write nothing at all
They just stand back and let it all be
Bruce Springsteen, Jungleland.


This is Blonde on Blonde.
This is Born to Run.
It is Bob Dylan.
It is Australia.
This is Gossip.
It is Paul Kelly.


This is quote after inspirational quote.
This is belief.
It is emotion.
This is Tom Liberatore’s moustache.
And injured Mitch Wallis’s steely eyes.


This is collective over self.
It is luck shining on Charlie Bucket.
It is improbability.
This is a tide.
This is magic and hope and joy.


This is the existence of unicorns.
It is Middle Earth; negotiating orcs and goblins and a fire breathing Balrog.


This is Welcome back, Kotter
Luke Beveridge as Gabe Kotter.
Marcus Bontempelli, tapping the ball in its end, as Vinnie Barbarino.
Jake Stringer, Easton Wood, Roughead, everyone else, injured Lin Jong, as the Sweathogs.


This is rare fairytale country, now.
A land of stories.
And it is somehow also prosaic workmanlike country, now.


It is Billy Bragg.
It is Power in a Union.
This is Leicester City.
Claudio Ranieri.
This is VAFA C Grade.
A footy club as a footy club.
This is $10 from the coach, in an envelope, for your Wodonga breakfast.


This is happening.
It happened.
This is “know your role, do you role.”
This is the whole adding up to more than the sum of its parts.


It is magic.
This is people.
Doing what people can do.


This is Blonde on Blonde.
It is a leopard skin pill-box hat.
This is for dreamers.
This is life.


I’m high on the hill,
Walking over the bridge to the MCG…
Paul Kelly, Leaps and Bounds.


About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Neil Anderson says

    This is for dreamers,
    This is life
    Thanks for making some sense of how I feel at the moment. I am transported back to that seven-year old boy hanging on to his father’s hand at the G waiting for the Dogs to run out led by Charlie Sutton and a real Bulldog on a leash.
    I think Paul Kelly’s music would be running through Bob Murphy’s head at the moment.

  2. Je suis doggie

  3. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Captured the spiritus mundi of the Scray beautifully ER. The fairy tale element, fate, lifting the weight of history , from Sweathogs to Giant killers, their banner sticking it to AFL focus groups in the spirit of ‘Up Yours Oakley’.

    There might be an ‘Underdog’ narrative/mythology that is seductive for fans and scribes, but this Bulldogs team is skillful, hard,professional and very much aware of their ability to shape their destiny.

  4. Great job Er. Much prefer the Dogs narrative than any contrived Battle of/for Sydney/Bridge.

    Of the thoughts I had while watching none connected to Welcome Back Kotter. But, yes! However, I reckon Vinnie Barbarino would be a Carlton man.

    Should be a fun week. Looking forward to the Dogs stories on here, and elsewhere.

  5. Grand images ER. Capturing lightning in a bottle. Shivers in aspic.
    I am I said:
    “Did you ever read about a frog
    Who dreamed of being a king
    And then became one
    Well except for the names
    And a few other changes
    If you talk about me
    The story’s the same one”

  6. It’s mystery, I reckon.
    And yes, they are organised and skilled and there is a high level pragmatism to the footy as well.
    So fast.
    So good.

    “And you know something is happening, but you don’t know what it is. Do you, Mr Jones..?”

  7. Darren Smith says

    The Leicester City of the Aussie code perhaps?

  8. Quick hands and quicker minds. Brilliant Doggies, just brilliant.
    Perhaps the unicorn is no longer lonely.

  9. I can just see Bont singing…like Barbarino in Welcome Back Kotter..
    “Bont, Bont, Bont,
    Bont, Bontempelli,
    Bont, Bont, Bont,
    Bont, Bontempelli,
    Bont, Bont, Bont,
    Bont, Bonetempelli,
    Bontempelli, yeah, yeah”

  10. Neil Anderson says

    I just saw Lin Jong get BOG in the VFL Grand Final. When Luke Beveridge came on the ground Jongy starting thrusting his arm forward Arnold Horshack-style saying , ‘” Ooh, ooh pick me for Saturday”.

  11. Love all of these comments.
    Ideas, observations, sharing.
    Many thanks.
    Keep it going.

  12. And the Welcome Back Kotter title song works in this case, too.For Luke Beveridge.

    Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out
    Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about
    Well the names have all changed since you hung around
    But those dreams have remained and they’ve turned around
    Who’d have thought they’d lead ya
    (Who’d have thought they’d lead ya)
    Back here where we need ya
    (Back here where we need ya)
    Yeah we tease him a lot ’cause we got him on the spot
    Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back, welcome back
    Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back

  13. Omen hunters, the dogs have beaten Sydney at the mcg in finals the last three times they have played them there!

  14. This has a real rhythm and beat going Dave.

    Perhaps you could put it to music. Rap…? Adam Briggs.


    And Carn the puppies

  15. Thanks Paubai- more omen talk – my mate Tommy was swimming in Lake Geneva overnight- he said the shore was littered with swan poo.
    What does it mean?

    Love it Kate.
    Project for the kids.

  16. Luke Reynolds says

    Tramps like the ‘Dogs
    They were born to run

    What a story the 2016 Bulldogs are

    What an apt piece this is

    Superbly written ER

    Go Dogs

  17. Superb OBP hope the dogs do the Leicester City

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