Round 14 – Western Bulldogs v Carlton: Laughing on the inside

Western Bulldogs versus Carlton

7.20pm, Saturday, 4th July

Etihad Stadium


Neil Anderson


What a night at Docklands! It had everything. A big crowd, no contact between two of the main players up until half-time and a breakdown of essential digital communication from high up in the stands.

And that was just two old Knackers trying to meet up and watch their beloved Bulldogs and Blues. In contrast, the match itself was fairly predictable in its outcome. Defences for both teams dominating meaning a low-scoring dour struggle.

When three Knackers and a friend planned a few weeks ago to meet at Docklands, what could possibly go wrong? Plenty as it turned out.

Knacker number one (Bob) had arranged to meet his author-friend at a different Docklands entrance so he was scratched except for hopefully a quick hello before the match. Friend Stuart emailed on the Friday saying he and half his family had caught colds and were unlikely to attend. Knacker number two Peter Fuller was on target to meet at the appropriate time but texted to say he was running late. He suggested that I go in and claim two seats…and he would text me later for directions. At this point I refer back to my introduction regarding a break-down of digital communications.

Texting seems so easy for the young and nimble-fingered and but not so for those of us of a certain age for whom the technology is a more recent innovation. I did try an actual old-fashioned telephone-call but Peter has a hearing problem and even messages left are difficult for him to listen to when there is a background-noise of 30,000 people.

I managed to send a text indicating the aisle number and seat number which eventually got through to Peter but for the first half of the game we were in seats 50 metres apart high up on Level 3 of the stadium. As I made one last attempt at texting, Peter emerged from the level below with a large carry-bag looking not unlike Edmund Hillary ready to reunite with his Sherpa at the summit. I had been warding off people wanting the free-seat next to me for nearly an hour. Fortunately they were more hipster-dudes than the supporters I remember from the terraces at the old Western Oval, so I was fairly confident in telling them the seat was taken without fearing any repercussions.

So now it was a case of two old Almanackers looking down on the arena hoping like hell our teams would win with Peter more analytical and fair-minded about the chances of his Blues winning while I just wanted a win. Even by a point. Bugger hoping only for a fair and entertaining contest!

I explained to Peter later that every win is so precious to Bulldog supporters because of the win/loss ratio which is so much in favour of the Blues and certain other teams over the past decades. It is why the ‘Danny from Droop Street’ character on the Coodabeens is so accurate portraying the way we think, including our lack of confidence even when we are about to play a team lower on the ladder.

Last Saturday ‘ Danny’ rang up the Coodabeens and the conversation went something like this:

“ You’re talking to Torch. How can I help ?”

“ ( dispirited) Yeah, gidday Torch, it’s Danny here. Danny from Droop Street.”

“ You must be happy Danny. Two in a row for the Bulldogs and you should win again today.”

“ No way. We’re buggered. They’ve got a new coach and they’re playing really well all of a sudden.”

“ Yeah, but the Bulldogs are still favourites, surely .”

“ I knew we were in trouble when I saw the ins and outs. I’m tellin ya, it’s a case of no Bailey Dale (a young Bulldog player who has played about three games) and it’s no Bulldogs! And Carlton have brought back Blaine Boekhorst ( another young inexperienced player).There’s no way we’re gonna win now!”

Fellow Almanacker Cowshedend commented a few weeks ago that any boos for Carlton would be drowned out by the laughter directed towards ex-Bulldog Liam Jones who was really struggling at the time and Carlton was at its lowest ebb. My immediate reaction was to ensure we won on July 4th first of all and maybe a few more times against Carlton before we allowed ourselves the luxury to laugh about anything.

So I admired the way Peter calmly watched the match almost like a neutral observer and when Carlton hit the front at one stage, magnanimous as always, he predicted that the Bulldogs would bounce back, which they did. All I could think about was the miserable long trip home to the country if we lost.

The match itself was nothing to write home about or even report to the Almanac about.

The first quarter looked promising for the Bulldogs with a fair bit of frantic energy in front of a very understandabley subdued crowd. Dahlhaus goaled from the boundary early on but disappeared for a while after that. The much-maligned Jarrad Grant kicked an easy goal with no pressure coming from the Blues and then with Dickson goaling after a coast-to-coaster, the signs were good for the Bulldogs. The rest of the quarter Carlton’s defence was solid led by Zac Tuohy.

The second quarter involved a lot of point-kicking and post-hitting but had high-lights of Buckley kicking a gaol with his left-foot from the boundary and Everitt taking a screamer in front of goal. With Jason Tutt looking lively as well I was wondering if the two ex-Bulldogs would make us regret moving them on. The other Bulldog connection for the match was field-umpire Brent Wallace, the son of Terry Wallace.

At half-time Carlton led by three points but could have been worse if ‘ The Package ‘ Jake Stringer hadn’t calmly swung around on one step from fifty metres out and goaled. Before that he was well-held by Zac Tuohy.

The third quarter was the Bulldog’s quarter with their fourth goal in a row and the introduction of their new cult-hero, Caleb Daniel. All 167 centimetres and 63 kilograms of him. It wasn’t so much his goal on the 50 metre line, but it was his second, third and fourth efforts to win the ball. He won’t be wearing the sub-vest when they play Gold-coast in Cairns next Saturday and he’s given the Bulldog supporters another reason to cheer and yes, maybe even laugh out loud about this year.

The last quarter the Bulldogs kicked the first two goals through Wallis and Stringer and Carlton kicked the last three through Armfield, Tutt and Henderson. The Bulldogs spent the last half of the quarter just preserving the lead, sometimes kicking backwards to wind down the clock. It was a case of just winning ugly on a night where celebrations were cancelled including Matthew Boyd’s 250th which was a shame, particularly when he was one of the best on ground. Maybe next week for that.

Rightly or wrongly each match is a serious affair for me and even after a win there is never a lot of laughter. It’s more just a great sense of relief as I check next week’s opponent on the list. The very fact now with a possibility of four wins in a row looming, there’s no way I want to moz the Bulldogs by laughing out loud and boasting about how well my team is going.

Much to my shame I was ready to leave immediately the siren sounded until Peter reminded me they were about to observe a minute silence for Phil Walsh. I’m glad I stayed back not only to pay respects to Phil Walsh and family but to reflect on my own father-son relationship.

I remembered those first vital ten years growing up in Footscray when the family unit was solid. Before my late-teens when the generation-gap kicked in and my father and I couldn’t agree on much at all, he was that wonderful family man who gave his children the best start in life. He led by example and imparted a decent set of values that I would eventually pass on to my own children. His respect for the elderly and women would have come from his own parents so I silently thanked them as well. And of course I will be forever grateful he decided at the last minute to leave his work-shop for that one afternoon in September 1954 and take his son to see the Bulldogs win the Grand Final. All the gratitude about my own circumstances came spilling out in that one minute of silence. Unfortunately it made what happened in Adelaide seem even more incomprehensible.


Western Bulldogs   3.3 4.4 7.8 9.10   64

Carlton           1.1 4.7 4.11 7.11 53



W.Bulldogs: Stringer 3, Dahlhaus, Grant, Dickson, Daniel, Boyd, Wallis

Carlton: Armfield 2, Casboult, Buckley, Everitt, Tutt, Henderson



W.Bulldogs: Picken, Macrae, Boyd, Stevens, Wood, Minson

Carlton: Tuohy, Graham, Curnow, Armfield, Cripps, Murphy


Umpires: Findlay, Kamolins, Wallace


Official crowd: 31,445


Our Votes: 3 Tuohy (Carlton) 2 Macrae (WB) 1 Stevens (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. Great story Neil.
    Footy often causes us to recall father/son incidents.
    My father made a big sacrifice.
    When I was six I told him I was a North Melbourne supporter.
    He followed Footscray.
    The next year he took me to see North v Footscray at Arden Street.
    North lost.
    My dad saw how much it upset me.
    He decided he could support his team or support his son.
    So he switched to North Melbourne.
    All these years later our relationship is great.
    My dad was strict, firm but progressive.
    So many great memories and lessons.
    It is so tragic what happened to Phil Walsh.
    So damn sad.

  2. Peter Fuller says

    Apologies for my delayed response to your report of the match – and my unintentional comic turn on the night. You have very generously refrained from spelling out how my gross ineptitude at managing life was responsible for most of the issues in the first half of your account.
    I also think that you have been much too kind in your description of me as analytical and fair-minded; I don’t think I’ve previously been accused of those virtues.
    I do understand how much the result means to you; all of us have a psychological investment in the performances of our football teams, ridiculous in an objective sense, but nonetheless undeniable. Naturally the many years of disappointment fuel the intensity of that commitment for you and your tricolour mates. We Blues with a sense of entitlement cultivated by decades of success, so our current experience of under-achievement is at least modified by the consolation from plenty of memories. I played golf with a Hawk enthusiast yesterday, and he made the point that he has enjoyed twelve flags- from his teens to his sixties – and is expecting (with justified confidence) that he will see a few more.

    You have done the match justice. It was a scrappy affair, salvaged only by the changes of fortune and the relative closeness of the scores. However, it seemed apparent to me that my prior expectations of the Blues putting in a reasonable shift but ultimately succumbing to the higher skill level and better organisation of your Bulldogs.
    The minute silence at the end was impressive, even if anti-climatic after the Hawthorn-Collingwood precedent was done spontaneously. Clarkson’s initiative and Buckley’s co-0peration reflects well on them both, and was part of a splendid response by the whole football community to last week’s tragic events. So often we find clubs and the AFL wanting – either over-egging events or ignoring what is truly important. Last week, everyone behaved impeccably from Gillon McLachlan (I’m thinking of his bearing and words at his press conference, as much as his decision-making) through all the clubs who played and supporters of all teams who played, and spectacularly the Adelaide fans who turned up at the Oval on Sunday.

  3. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Iron Mike for your comments. My relationship with my dad must have had more of an effect on me than I realized. My first attempts at writing short-stories and plays seemed to quite often involve father-son relationships for some reason. There could have been a bit of guilt there somewhere regarding our falling-out during most of my teenage years and although there was reconciliation of sorts later when I had my act together, he died shortly afterwards..
    I enjoyed your story about your father going from the Scrays to the Roos. He sounded like a great dad.
    Good to hear from you. I was worried you were still waiting for the train.
    I wasn’t taking it easy on you for any other things that went wrong on the night. I just couldn’t remember the sequence of events you told me about. And you are analytical and fair-minded and throw in old-fashioned politeness which made for very pleasant company.
    I managed to find a replay of the match in the early hours of Monday so I could at least pick up the run of goal-kickers etc. I was hoping you might have written something as well. It would have been interesting to read it through your eyes.
    Good luck against the Tigers while the Dogs get some warmth up in Cairns.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Great article Neil. P.Fuller very humble for a Blues fan. Must be either their current predicadment, or his South West Victorian upbringing. I’m favouring the latter.
    Enjoying watching your ‘Dogs play. Especially the wonderful Bob Murphy, and former Pomborneit cricketer Easton Wood.
    The Almanackers are wonderful. What other opposition supporters would you rather sit with??!

  5. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Luke.
    Just about to write a report on Sunday’s match re Dogs versus your Pies. I saw it as a real turning the corner match for the Dogs based on the history of the two Clubs.
    Yeah, Bob and Easton would have to be two of the favorites for a lot of supporters. In two weeks time I am going to a birthday-party in Cobden where the hostess is a good friend of Easton’s mum. Unfortunately Easton will be busy trying to stop Westoff or someone else trying to kick goals in Melbourne at that time, so he probably won’t be attending unfortunately.

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