Round 18 – Essendon v Western Bulldogs: Bulldogs maul lame Dons

Etihad Stadium

Sunday 2 August 3.20 pm


It lacked the romance of the Lakeside Premiership, as there are other Docklands co-tenants as well as ‘home side’ Essendon and the Western Bulldogs. The Bullies, however, are key among the co-debtors, and routinely lose money on matches at the concrete dome, along with St Kilda and North Melbourne, and perhaps now Carlton.  This time, they had a resounding win where it mattered – the scoreboard.

I had always had a soft spot for Footscray. The same guernseys as Taroona High School back in my better footy days, although I don’t know if my fellow student Princess Mary played for Taroona. The Whitten Oval is just across the river from me, and the club has progressive social policies, undoubtedly winning the Jones/Bolt medal for mere folly for that one.

It was a good day to be on the Doggies. Unlike the draw of the Coasters the day before (Gold and West), they were not sacrificing their top eight position to the cellar dwellers, as they chased percentage like a greyhound after a mechanical hare.

They also brought back the high mark from Luke Dalhaus, with echoes of Merv Hobbs for older Footscray believers, while Tory Dickson continued to be the only perfect goalkicker in the League with four straight goals – a pointless performance again, kind of virginal, with a 2015 total of 22 goals. ‘No routine’ should be part of every boy’s education. The Dogs’ running game was always good to watch and they outmarked the post-peptides Bombers, and even magically replaced the injured Liberatore Jr with the Paul Callery of today, the pint sized helmeted Caleb Daniel, at 167 cm, number 46 in that tribute to heightism, the Draft.

Once, the Bombers appealed to me: Terry Daniher’s straw in the mouth charm (I once ‘played’ with Terry on the Coodabeens 3RRR home ground at Victoria St Fitzroy; I was surprised how tall he is not!); the baby Bombers’ enthusiasm and commitment, Sheedy’s pioneering of Indigenous football development and his wisdom and wit (‘it took 2000 years to put wheels on suitcases’ so perhaps we could innovate too), even before he wrote an enthusiastic foreword for my book.*

However, without quite joining the priests and prosecutors who condemned the peptides# masterminds, I understand how the Dons’ own Ziggy Switkowski was ‘disturbed’ by Essendon’s ‘uncontrolled’ and ‘undocumented’ ‘pharmacologically experimental environment.’ It seemed like a Workcare matter which should have led to a cleanout at the top. I had not much time for Icarus or the greedy kings in their chariots. The result, as we have seen with the team deflated as a holey Sherrin in 2015, is a club which by next year will have lost five years, since its hamstrung 2012 season.

The Bulldogs came out of the blocks kicking the first two goals and started to run away with then, leading by six goals at half time. While the Bombers had a brief revival, holding marks and kicking goals early in the third quarter, and for a goalden minute early in the last, most of the day was a procession. While there was still a sea of red and black in the crowd, on the field, aside from Heppell, Hooker and Stanton and Joe Daniher who tried hard, they had nothing. Even before the end of the third quarter the Essendon renegade Crameri had 6 and Stringer 4 and the Bulldogs had more kicks and marks than in circle work at training.

It was the off-Broadway game, coming after the “Adam Goodes match” between the Swans and the Crows at the SCG, which held everyone’s attention. It was only a joy if you wanted to see a dominant team executing the skills of the game, including running and passing. The Bulldogs running game was a lot more exciting to watch than the ‘agon’ of Stoppage-wrestling and Maulball in too many other games.

There was only token booing of the defectors – which seemed doubly appropriate given two events last week: one, last week’s Subiaco event, the bullying booing by the crowd’s minority of racists and merely rebellious sheep of Adam Goodes; and two, the St Kilda “traitor” (as some would allege, although not I) Brendon Goddard, the glasshouse star, having a go at the former Essendon player Paddy Ryder.

Just after Essendon kicked a point from an easy shot, it seemed that Bronwyn ‘Salary Cap’ Bishop couldn’t take a trick either. Fortunately, unlike the departure of Princess Diana, play was not interrupted as the announcement came through on my phone net at ¾ time.

Footy is wonderfully creative, sometimes with good conflict and sometimes with bad conflict, and sometimes it is sad. We love the achievement of the Doggies’ new coach, ‘Bevo’. Luke Beveridge is an unpretentious coach who got a guernsey after 15 years in the coaching ranks. Bevo cuts his own hair (much cheaper than Toorak Rd South Yarra) and, more dubiously to the noise-averting, enjoys skateboarding. Positively, we celebrate the rise of the perpetual ‘underdog’, the poor club from the western suburbs which have been ravaged by unemployment and consequent alienation. (There might even be a few people from the Alan Jones constituency as a result, although they may not have noted his pre-match work further north prior to the Cronulla beach game of 2005).

However, only the hardest hearted Sydney shock jock could not feel sorry for Essendon, who were mauled on the scoreboard. Quo Vadis the Bombers? It is sad to see a bus without a starter motor, and without petrol as well. Yet, love of false ‘Gods’ (that is all of them) is as old as when those suitcases had no wheels. Even tarnished ‘Gods’, from Assad in Damascus to those at the northern New Windy Hill, seem able to hide the rust behind glittering robes.

While the Bulldogs have edged ahead of Richmond in the race for the four, the vanquished need to do more than lick their wounds. As I watched the Dons kick a raft of points including a poster in the last dying minutes of the final quarter, as their former player Stuart Crameri kicked his 7th goal, I wondered. Is it the Fates and only time will bring a cure? Alternatively, perhaps, as the prosecuting preachers might intone, ‘you reap what you sow’? Like many thinkers who do wear the red and black, ‘Je ne sais pas’.


Essendon  0.4  2.5  4.7  5.10.40

Western Bulldogs  1.2  8.8  15.11  19.13.127



Essendon: Hooker, Heppell, Stanton

Western Bulldogs: Crameri, Wallis, Johannisen, Dahlhaus, Stringer, Wood, Hunter, Picken



Essendon: Stanton, Hooker, Daniher, Langford, Merrett

Western Bulldogs: Crameri 7, Stringer 4, Dickson 4, Daniel 2, Johannisen, Wallis




* Sheeds: ‘If you love Australian football, its past, its present and its future, then you have to read this book’. (Australian Football: The People’s Game)


# From my own pharmacist: ‘Not all peptides are illegal.’

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