NAB Challenge 2015 – Western Bulldogs v Richmond: The Doug Hawkins Wing Part II (As an Adult)

Western Bulldogs vs Richmond Tigers
4.40pm, Saturday 28th of February
Whitten Oval, Footscray.

First things first: I need to declare that I used to follow a team that your dad could tell you about called the Fitzroy Lions and they used to play out of the Brunswick Oval on Brunswick Street Fitzroy. After a lot of bad management the Lions “merged” with Brisbane and for most royboys and roygirls it was a sad time.

One of my most vivid memories from Fitzroy’s last few years was alot of absolute beltings at the Whitten oval where Fitzroy were co-tenants with Footscray at the time. I hadn’t been to Whitten Oval since 1996 which was when Fitzroy got their last win ever against Fremantle. That in itself is a very happy memory for me.

Fast forward to this Saturday and I was walking down from West Footscray Station to check the first game at the Whitten Oval in close to twenty years and for the first time in a while was genuinely excited to go to a game of footy.

A happy and vibrant crowd of nine and a half thousand had shuffled in through the old school turnstiles to get back to what they love doing the most; barracking for their team.

The teams in question were coming at the game from very different positions, exemplified by the coaches leading their respective sides.

Luke Beveridge, coaching his first game in anger for the Bulldogs, went in with an almost full-strength squad (with the obvious absence of Stewart Crameri) looking to see what his A-team could do against AFL standard opposition.

Damien Hardwick went in with basically a B-side with names like Cotchin. Martin, Rance, Deledio, Chapman, Newman, Maric and Riewoldt being rested, and the late withdrawal of Conca, Ellis, Edwards and Astbury.

The atmosphere at the Whitten Oval was fantastic and for the first 15 mins or so the Bulldogs fans were pretty happy as their boys had the vast majority of the ball and the lead.

I myself was having a nice afternoon until Tom Liberatore chased down a ball in front of Ty Vickery right in front of me, Libba went to ground himself in the tackle when there a was cracking noise and and all of a sudden Liberatore was on the ground rolling around in pain.

Unfortunately as later scans found, the young star and Western’s 2014 best and fairest will be out for the rest of the season.

The rest of the quarter was the tigers as they kicked the last four goals of the quarter gave Richmond a nine point lead.

The rest of the game was fairly lacklustre, the young Tigers team but a good fight for the majority of the game with the more experienced Bulldogs running over the top of Richmond in the last ten minutes of the last quarter.

The Bulldogs number one recruit Tom Boyd showed some promise playing at centre half forward kicking a goal and picking up 14 disposals and three marks. Not bad for a first turn out but Dogs fans would be expecting a better performance than that week to week.

Luke Dahlhaus is a gun, just an absolute gun. I know that is simple footy terminology but I just can not think of a better way to describe this guy! 22 possessions, four marks and a goal; he was playing more of a forward/mid role compared to his almost exclusive midfield role last year. Beveridge may be looking to make him the small forward for the dogs?

Jack Redpath was a shining light up forward and could be the second big guy in the forward fifty with Tom Boyd over the next ten years if his form in this game is anything to go by. Seven marks and two goals a good return.

Jack Macrae keeps getting the ball with 25 touches and a goal. He could be one to keep an eye on as far as Supercoach is concerned.

For Tigers fans the points of interest would have been the moving of Steve Morris from a small defender role to taking on the big/little shoes of Jake King as a small forward putting on that defensive pressure that Hardwick loves. He did a good job of it too and was stand-in captain on the day for Trent Cotchin.

Todd Elton, who has been in the football wilderness (or the VFL as most people know it) for the past three years, was moved to fullback in the absence of Alex Rance and Troy Chaplin and showed a lot of promise. Could be a defensive partner with Dave Astbury moving forward.

Chris Knights got through a full game and looked dangerous everytime he went near the ball with five marks playing across half forward and booting two goals. Also VFL recruit and Supercoach darling Kane Lambert did really well with 15 possessions and nine of those in the first quarter. Anthony Miles continued with his good form with 23 touches and seven marks.

In the end the Bulldogs won by 22 points, but would have been looking to win by more, given the opportunities on the day.

As the final siren rang out I looked around the ground and flood of memories hit me and I must admit I got lost in reminiscing with myself, until a wayward footy almost took my head off.  ‘Twas my cue to leave but not without hope in my heart that footy could move back to the suburbs one day.

Western Bulldogs  0.2.3   0.7.7   0.7.10   0.12.17 (89)
Richmond  0.4.0   0.5.1   1.7.3   1.9.4 (67)

Western Bulldogs: Redpath 2, Dickson 2, T. Boyd, Dahlhaus, Stevens, Wallis, Stringer, Bontempelli, Macrae, Honeychuch
Richmond: Knights 2, Arnot 2, Short, Vickery, Morris, Grigg, Gordon.

Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Bontempelli, Murphy, Stevens, Dahlhaus, M. Boyd
Richmond: Miles, Morris, Hunt, Lambert, Arnot, Elton

Umpires: Farmer, Edwards, Armstrong, B. Ryan

Our votes: L.DahlHaus 3 votes (WB) A Miles 2 votes (Richmond) Jackson Macrae 1 vote (WB)

Crowd: approx. 9,513



Damian Gibson is one of the founding fathers of the AFL facebook community the Zanotti Files. He also is the host of Fifteen Minutes of Doom & FMOD podacsts A football (and Richmond) fanatic, he should not be approached while watching a game or playing Words with Friends on his phone.


  1. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks for that detailed report on such a big day out at Whitten Oval.
    It’s true that even Luke Beveridge acknowledged the Bulldogs were playing against a Richmond seconds team, but it was all about the venue and showing off the new recruits as well as trialling veteran players in new positions.
    It would have been devastating for fans if the Dogs had lost which they nearly did due to bad kicking. Richmond supporters have a lot to look forward to if that was their B side.
    I remember going to watch Fitzroy V Footscray in about 1996 ( our dog of a year ) and sitting up in the EJ Whitten stand with about a dozen other supporters. Compare that with Saturday’s full house of fans who now realize what we lost when they took our home ground away in 1997. Of course it was even worse for Fitzroy supporters when they took your Club away.
    Being able to watch our VFL Footscray side play at Whitten Oval is some compensation for the Western Bulldogs being shunted to the soulless Docklands.

  2. Damian Gibson says

    Thanks for the big up’s Neil , i really appericaite it!

  3. bulldogboy says

    Good writeup Damian. A faint light flickers deep within all ‘scray supporters that we could one day see a ‘real’ game played again at the Western Oval.

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