Round 12 – Western Bulldogs v Brisbane: Working Dogs or Best in Show

Western Bulldogs versus Brisbane Lions

7.20pm, Saturday, 20th June

Etihad Stadium

Neil Anderson

Footscray has a history of never recruiting flashy players who lairise. Jason Akermanis would have been the last one and before him Allan Jakovich briefly in 1996. Of course it’s hard to overlook the original lair with flair, E.J Whitten.

The occasional exceptions, but Footscray champions usually consisted of hard-nut on-ballers like Tony Liberatore and his son Tom, our reigning best and fairest. We have had dour defenders such as Dale Morris and introverted forwards such as Chris Grant. Faithful working- dogs rather than preening show-dogs.

Bulldog fans and outside observers have often thought our lack of success has been due to not having a flamboyant extroverted player such as Wayne Carey. In 1996 when Carey and North Melbourne were at the top of their game and Footscray were at the bottom of theirs, even with their almost- Brownlow Medalist Chris Grant, Carey gave an insight in to how he operated:

“ If you’re two goals down with two minutes to go, the biggest asset you can have is to believe that you’re capable of kicking those two goals to get the side up. I think all players should try to think that way.”

As a long-time Bulldog supporter I have been indoctrinated to believe that a hard-working united team of players will win out against other teams that have the occasional flashy player who can be sometimes inconsistent. That is why I was happier to see that Liam Picken selected to play against the Lions, more so than Marcus Bontempelli. I hoped young Marcus would find form and thrill the supporters like he has before, but I knew Liam could do a shut-down job if required, clear the ball out of the centre and go forward and kick goals. A reliable working-dog.

Before tonight’s match, commentator Brian Taylor thought differently. He was looking forward to seeing Jake Stringer play. Like a carnival barker on behalf of Channel 7 he was searching for the interest point and hook to sell the game and encourage the punters ‘to come into the tent’. It was the only match in town and it wasn’t involving the top teams. Later in the night he christened Jake Stringer as ‘the package’. Naïve enough not to realise the double entendre and he had obviously never heard Jacqui Lambi use that expression to describe one of her desirable assets in a man.

So as the teams run out, it will be interesting to see if the exciting but unpredictable Jake Stringer dominates, or as the best-on-ground player usually says when he’s interviewed after the match, “ It was a team effort.”

One minute into the match the inconsistent Grant kicked a long bomb landing thirty metres from the Bulldog’s goal and is pounced on by Stringer who casually strolls in and goals. Is it possible Stringer listened to Brian Taylor pre-match and was determined to live up to the hype?

One of the reliable working dogs who can kick straight, Tory Dickson, goals shortly after to even the score between lairs and the squares.

The feeling of dread snaps Bulldog supporters back to reality when McStay and Robertson goal for the Lions. The roller-coaster of emotions is our lot when we think of being beaten by lowly teams following victory over top teams. Could it happen today?

Relief when the emerging power-forward Tom Boyd receives two free kicks and goals. There hasn’t been a lot of flair with Tom so far so he would probably be in the working-dog category. Well at least his coach wants him to work hard and compete and says eventually his goal tally will increase. Perhaps he is like a big St Bernard dog who will one day be the saviour for his team-mates and Bulldog supporters.

The second quarter and The Great Zorko conjures up an easy goal but Tom Boyd answers with a goal of his own. Just. He fumbled the ball on the goal-line but still got his foot to the ball. The signs are good for the Bulldogs getting free-kicks right in front of goal and not kicking those confidence-sapping points as they surge forward.

The only glitch that quarter was the reliable Murphy tripping over his own feet on the backline which allowed McStay to kick an easy goal. More relief when Dickson was held and kicked a goal, then Brian Taylor went into raptures after his ‘ package ‘ Jake Stringer goaled from the boundary.

When Green kicked the last goal of the quarter for the Lions the Bulldogs only led by 21 points. There was a feeling it should have been a lot more after a combination of working-dog effort, Jake’s flair and Tom Boyd’s coming of age.

The third quarter goal-kicking saw the Bulldogs start to dominate. Wallis and Dahlhaus provided their usual grit tackling and kicking goals. Tom Boyd out-marked ‘the package’ and goaled. Stringer kicked another goal from the boundary and I swear he saluted Brian Taylor in the commentary-box.

36 points in front at the start of the last quarter and Jake decided it was party-time. 50 metres out and he swung around on an arc with his left-foot and goaled. “ This man can do anything!” screamed Brian Taylor.

The forgotten Bont goaled as well as second-gamer McLean then Wallis with his third. Hrovat and my favourite working-dogs Koby Stevens and Liam Picken goaled making it a 72 point win for the Dogs and a much-need percentage boost.

The whole Bulldog team have found good form after the bye. Next week I will be watching the flashy players such as Stringer, Bontempelli and Macrae after seeing how they complemented the in an under working- dogs tonight. Along with Tom Boyd, they might be the difference in just getting over the line and winning easily in future games.


  1. Bulldogs     5.3 8.6 13.11 22.14 ( 146 )

Brisbane Lions 2.1 5.3 8.5 11.8     ( 74 )


  1. Bulldogs:   Stringer 5, T.Boyd 4, Wallis 3, Dickson 2, Picken 2, Dale, McLean, Bontempelli, Dahlhaus, Hrovat, Stevens.

Brisbane Lions: McStay 3, Bewick 2, Zorko, Taylor, Robertson, Hanley, Green, Christensen.


  1. Bulldogs: Stringer, Macrae, T.Boyd, Murphy, Wallis, M. Boyd.

Brisbane Lions: Taylor, Martin, Hanley, Beams, McStay, Christensen.

Umpires: Foot, Fisher, Schmitt

Official crowd: 21, 129

Our Votes: 3 Stringer ( WB ) 2 Wallis ( WB ) 1 Macrae ( WB )






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. “Footscray has a history of never recruiting flashy players who lairise. Jason Akermanis would have been the last one and before him Allan Jakovich briefly in 1996.”
    And before Jakovich (and briefly overlapping) you had Richard Osborne, Neil.
    To be fair, Ossie was more mercurial than a lairiser.
    I guess that’s often the nature of medium-sized goal sneaks.

  2. Neil, we’ve recalled that lair Dale Morris this week!
    Stringer’s a star with flair. Bake the cake. Then add the icing.
    Ossie was actually good for us.
    Aker could have been great. He worked really hard and Johnno just crucified him.
    Jako was a worry, but an incredible talent. Rather watch him than Bernard Toohey.

  3. Skip of Skipton says

    Richard Osborne was an A-grader with the Roys. Big V etc. A real forward flanker.

    I remember Allen Jakovich eating a greasy hamburger and potato cakes and smoking at the Spotswood tote one arvo when he should have been at training with Footscray. He was a serious talent. Fastest man to 50 goals and equal fastest to 100.

  4. cowshedend says

    Nice work again Neil

    “Footscray has a history of never recruiting flashy players who lairise. Jason Akermanis would have been the last one and before him Allan Jakovich briefly in 1996.”

    DAVID THORPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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