Round 22 – Essendon v Western Bulldogs: Thank You Mr. Cooney


Before I get started on this week’s story, I must apologise to my fellow Almanackers for being nowhere to be seen last week for the report of the Western Bulldogs/Collingwood game. It’s been a busy week for me, from the weekend, where the game was played onwards to the middle of the week, and by the time I had some free time to write the story, we were onto this weekend, where I had to prepare the match preview and continue to work outside of my writing.

Onto this evening’s match. This is a game that the Bulldogs were expected to handle and handle easily, but the lead-up to the game was primarily focussed on former Bulldog, now a Bomber, Adam Cooney, who had announced his retirement midway through the week. Whether or not this would be his last game, would be a different story, but how great would it be to see the ex-Doggies’ champ bow out on game 250 against his old mob?

I can remember back to when Cooney was brought into the Whitten Oval at the end of the 2003 season, where the Doggies finished with the wooden spoon. Amazingly, the selection of Cooney at number one was the only thing the Dogs did right that off-season. They could’ve had four selections inside the top 20 in what was considered a weak draft in comparison to others in recent seasons, but they used pick four on some bloke called Farren, who ended up being a bust, and was shipped off to St. Kilda. We obtained pick number six from Richmond in exchange for Nathan Brown, that was then on-traded to Essendon in a three-way deal with Hawthorn that saw us pick up an untried Hawks’ rookie and we also gave up pick 19 to Fremantle in exchange for Steven Koops.

You think pick 19 was not a big deal? That pick ended up being David Mundy, who as we all know, ended up having built himself a solid career at the Fremantle Dockers. I still shake my head to this day, what a massive cock-up that was.

‘Coons’ made his debut for the Doggies the following year in a nail-biting shootout loss to West Coast, where he kicked a goal in the last quarter, he played 19 of a possible 22 games and finished equal-fourth in the NAB rising star award, and from there, his rise to stardom only grew bigger by each season to the point he was the most dangerous player in the Western Bulldogs’ engine room.

Season 2008 would prove to be his best season yet, as he became the first number one overall draft pick to win the Brownlow medal, pipping Simon Black by a solitary vote. I’ll always remember being on the edge of my bed watching the vote count that night as a 14-year old jumping up and down like we’d just won the flag. When he got up on stage to receive his medal and talk to Channel Ten commentator Stephen Quartermaine, he told the entire nation how he proposed to his now-wife Haylea with a burger ring. Not only was he a wonderful footy player, but he also loved to crack a joke or two.

In that same year, the qualifying final to be exact, Cooney’s career started going downhill. He cracked his right patella and had cartilage damage. Over the following years, his impact on games had slowly deteriorated to the fact he was missing large chunks of games, causing people to say that his 2008 Brownlow was ‘undeserving’. These ignorant people have no idea how much that pisses me off.

He was sent to Germany at the end of the 2012 season for revolutionary treatment called Regenokine, which is a special blood-spinning treatment which helps reduce inflammation to any specific joint in the human body. This was used by the likes of NBA legends Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant. By the start of the 2013 season, it was almost like seeing the Adam Cooney of old. His trademark bursts of speed out of the stoppages and silky skills with the ball in hand was just a couple of reasons why he won the Brownlow in 2008.

However at the conclusion of the 2014 season, after 219 games of service for the mighty Doggies, he was traded away to the Bombers to help the red and black army win their first premiership since the glory days of 2000. At the time, it was infuriating that we could do that to such a loyal servant of the club, but hindsight is a wonderful thing as people would say. Regenokine can only do so much to one player’s dodgy knee, and on top of that, he was battling other injury niggles, which is incredibly sad given how much talent he had.

I went to the Bulldogs vs Essendon game last year, and seeing Cooney don the sash almost made me violently ill. I hated it, even though the Dogs made the right call, the AFL is a cruel reality these days. Anytime he got the ball in his hands, I’d still yell out the old-fashioned ‘COOOOOOONS’ chant. I got a couple of filthy looks from some uneducated Bombers supporters, suggesting that I was booing him – what nonsense! The Dogs won by 87 points that day, with Cooney struggling to make an impact on the game, whilst on the flip side, it was former Bomber Stewart Crameri that had a field day for the Doggies, kicking a career-best seven goals.

I was hoping to go to this game to farewell one of my heroes growing up, but unfortunately I couldn’t attend due to work commitments, it was very shattering, but I had returned from work at about 10:30pm with the intent of going through the game.

Joe Daniher kicks the opening goal of the game if you could believe it. I don’t know why he opts to snap so close to goal for a set shot, but it works for him. He could’ve had a big game, as he loomed a serious threat deep in Essendon’s attack, but cannot convert the opportunities. The Dogs then take control and hit six unanswered goals on the board to open up a 30-point buffer at the first break. Two goals to Tory Dickson, as well as majors to Caleb Daniel, Tom Boyd, Easton Wood and Lin Jong set the Dogs up for win number 15 early on in the evening.

But the Bombers put on the resistance after quarter time and avoid a massive blowout like last year, somehow, they ended up winning the second quarter with a four-goal to three effort. It was Cooney though that proved to be the highlight of the game, with a classy snap around the body for six points at the Footscray end of Etihad Stadium in the second quarter that got everyone from both sides of the fence on their feet and cheering. This was so pleasing to see, it was obvious that our fans haven’t forgotten about the contribution that he put to the team over the years, I would’ve loved to have been there cheering for him as well.

The Dogs put away any chance of a rare Essendon win in the third quarter, kicking three goals to two behinds to pull away to a 41-point lead at the final break, but as often been the case this season, another Doggies’ player had gone down with injury, this being late in the third quarter. Easton Wood went up for a spoil in outside the Bulldogs’ defensive 50 only to land on his left foot awkwardly and left him clutching his ankle/achilles region. Initial thoughts were that it didn’t look too good, but as the days rolled on, he looks more and more likely to appear for the start of the finals campaign.

Even though the Bombers won the last quarter, the Dogs still managed to record a 40-point win in what looked more like both sides going through the motions. Call me crazy, but I reckon Essendon might just have the talent back next year to make a push for finals. Players such as Michael Hurley, Cale Hooker, Dyson Heppell, Jobe Watson and Brent Stanton are no bum players, plus with the likes of Zach Merrett and David Zaharakis, who have been the shining lights for them this season, plus the young and talented stars such as Darcy Parish, Aaron Francis, Daniher, Orazio Fantasia and ‘Walla’ Tipungwuti, I don’t see any reason why they can’t do it next year.

It was also very good to both teams field a guard of honour for Adam Cooney, you wouldn’t have believed that he’d make 250 games five years ago, given all his issues with his knees and other parts of his body. He gets chaired off the the Etihad Stadium as he exits the roofed arena for the last time, I just wish I was there to show my appreciation for one of the Bulldog greats throughout the late 2000s.

Thank you for everything you’ve done at the Western Bulldogs Adam Cooney!



Essendon                   1.2      5.7     5.9       7.11.53
Western Bulldogs    6.2      9.5    12.8    14.9.93


Essendon: Daniher 2, Leuenberger, J. Merrett, Cooney, Fantasia, Z. Merrett
Western Bulldogs: Dickson 3, Daniel 2, Jong, T. Boyd, Wood, Picken, Cordy, McLean, Roughead, Hunter, C. Smith


Essendon: Z. Merrett, Stokes, Zaharakis, Daniher, Kelly, Brown
Western Bulldogs: Picken, Johannisen, Daniel, M. Boyd, Hunter, Bontempelli, Hrovat

Umpires: Fisher, Stephens, Chamberlain

Official crowd: 25,308 at Etihad Stadium

Votes: 3: L. Picken (Western Bulldogs) 2: C. Daniel (Western Bulldogs) 1: Z.Merrett (Essendon)

About Alex Docherty

Alex is a diehard footy nut. He loves his Western Bulldogs and loves writing about them every week as much he loves running out and playing footy himself.

Leave a Comment