Ode to Bob Murphy et al







The headline that most irked me after the Grand Final win of 2016 was the oft repeated statement that Western Bulldogs fans were ‘long suffering’ after many defeats and disappointments over the years.


Long suffering? Give me a break!


In my twentieth year of a full-on footy romance I have got huge helpings of happiness from my team, thanks very much.


To be a Western Bulldogs supporter over this period has been truckloads of fun, an honour and a joy. The Grand Final win was the icing on the cake, no doubt, and arguably the greatest finals performance of all time. But let’s not underplay the journey: the thrills and spills, the exciting and committed exhibition of sheer football finesse, guts and determination, the finals tilts, the round to round delight of watching an amazing group of particularly talented and durable players, who held to the ideal of team and played that way.


And so, on the eve of Bob and Boydy’s likely last games, I should like to dip my lid and pay my respects to you fellas, the amazing group that got us through from the early 90s to 2016: Chris Grant, Scott West, Brad Johnson, Rohan Smith, Tony Liberatore, Matthew Boyd, and the lovely Robert Murphy. One club players, each and all.


Such a tough and – I do dare say it – loyal, group of footy stars, lifted this club from off its knees (almost disintegrating between ’89 and ’90) and continued to engage the fans and build support until 2016, our year. How could we not bounce about outside Docklands or the ‘G’ knowing we had such a super bloody amazing gang of Bulldogs about to run out onto the field?


Chris Grant. Virtuosity and grace itself within, but mostly without, (on the field). Who can’t feel good with Superman on your side?


Scott West. King of my football heart! Thank-you, thank-you mate. Seven club B&Fs. I barely need to say more. Brave, determined, inspiring and soulful. But most of all getting that bloody ball!


Brad Johnson. If I could be a footy player it would be nice to be you – the medium forward who flies, evades, and then scores, making the incredibly difficult look easy, week after week. The smiles help too.


Rohan Smith. Oh man! I missed it when you left the forward half. You ran in and kicked those goals from forty out so finely, so regularly. But you were needed in defence, and there you did the same – beautiful run, beautiful kick. Ditto for the smiles.


Tony Liberatore. What a footballer! Prolific record holding tackler, before it was groovy. Never a day when you played without your every ounce.


Matthew Boyd. Strong, stalwart, dependable, powerfully accurate. Put in the time, also has the flag. Lucky man.


Bob Murphy. Rise up, Sir Robert! Always with the joy of footy in heart and feet. Gazelle-like grace to swerve and escape, then run and deliver. But grew into the leader we now know when he:

………………………………………..WOULD NOT LET HIS TEAM FLOUNDER!…………………………………………………      You inspired, taught, and galvanised this group of youngsters to eventually deliver our dream…Western Bulldogs, FFC…Premiers!


More important than Brownlows and MVPs this group had class, guts, durability, and longevity. These seven players appear in the Bulldogs top 9 for number of games played. If any team can maintain that level of skill and continuity they will also maintain team spirit, a level of success, and rust on supporters, who get to know and love their players, and love their club. A reliable, solid environment is maintained to foster and encourage fledglings, and grow them into effective footballers.


My journey through heaven, otherwise known as the post Grand Final pub crawl, through Richmond and Fitzroy, only reinforced my feelings about this. I met supporters all along the way who had latched onto the Western Bulldogs essentially because of our finals performances through from the mid 90’s until now. Right back to me, attending my first game with my two year old boy on my lap in the upper seats of the Ponsford Stand in 1997.


This group of players is the reason there were 25,000 ecstatic fans at the Whitten Oval on the 2nd of October. Your work kept our team in the mix, and the spirit alive. We’d been treated to fine footy over many a year, and were captivated all along.


So, thank-you men! For the happiness made sweeter by a little heartache. For keeping this team in one piece, and growing our numbers. We are still here! And now have tasted the ultimate prize. The flame continues to burn, in the oh so fearless hearts of Liam Picken and Luke Dahlhaus, and the new Superman, Easton Wood.


Rage on beautiful team. Create more history!



About Nicole McKay

Supporter: Indigenous rights; a happy and healthy Murray Darling and the Western Bulldogs. Lives in Northern Victoria. Loves the moment before you mark the footy.


  1. Neil Anderson says

    You took the words right out of my mouth as one star attraction on GF day once sang. You’ve picked my favourite bunch of Bulldogs and summarised their worth to us fans beautifully. What a trooper you must be to stick with the Dogs after your first game in 1997! I was in that same Ponsford Stand on prelim final day and that really tested the resolve for this rusted- on supporter… until redemption last year of course .

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