Round 3 – North Melbourne v Western Bulldogs: Class of 1925


North Melbourne versus Western Bulldogs

4.20 pm, Friday, 2nd April

Marvel Stadium

Neil Anderson





Reaction to receiving the school-reunion notice will vary depending on your status in the hierarchy all those years ago.  Lawyers, doctors and stock-brokers will tell their PA’s to R.S.V.P,  A.S.A.P.


The rest of us will mull it over for a while before we respond. It’s human nature to want to check out the high-flyers, even if we hated them at school. Perhaps we hope to hear a juicy nugget emerge from a room full of blather-skites  Something like, “ Did you hear that prick Simon Marshall got done for fraud!”


Winners and losers on the big night. Much like a football-match.


Today it’s two of the football graduates from the class of 1925. The other graduate from that year, Hawthorn, will not be attending. Always first there during their golden premiership years and then were never sighted when they didn’t make the finals one humiliating year.


The Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne have had a more similar trajectory with their VFL/AFL football life. Neighbours across the Maribyrnong with their working-class backgrounds.


North with four premierships. Two premierships for the Bulldogs including the 2016 flag which was the one to savour. An ‘against all odds’ flag in an eighteen-team competition.


The Bulldogs run out in their mainly white away-jumpers. The first danger-sign. Memories of so  many defeats away from home wearing that gear. The Bont looks like he’s wearing his grandfather’s cut-down long-johns. A homage to his 1925 Footscray predecessors.


The commentators are saying the Dogs should win but unless they win easily, they fail.


Bulldog supporters are still waiting for the day when we are predicted to win well, without any of the caveats.


Ryan Gardner is down and out after some friendly fire from Alex Keath in the first minute. The tall, much-maligned player on the back-line will leave a gaping-hole in the Bulldog defence. It’s true you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.


The usual elite ball-use of the Bulldogs seems to be missing. Kicks and handballs go astray. It’s like they’re trying too hard to show off their skills and stuffing it up. The uncertainty of playing a side near the bottom of the ladder after beating a premiership- hopeful the week before is taking effect.


Josh Bruce slots one from 50 metres to calm the situation. North is tackling well like an underdog team that has a sniff they could beat the top-dog. Aaron Hall goals to prove their intent.


The never-maligned Bailey Smith kicks out on the full. Bruce calms the Bulldog supporter’s growing concern once again, swinging around on his left to goal. The game is turning into some sort of bizzaro-world. A Dunkley-stuffup leads to a Stephenson goal. A Libba miss-kick leads to a Bruce goal. Even-stevens in a contest which is all about making the least mistakes.


In the meantime, after Bruce missed from 10 metres, Naughton  kicks straight showing he can kick them close to goal as well as from 50 metres out.


Just a two-goal difference at quarter-time in a game of swings and round-a-bouts.


Naughton to English for a goal in the second quarter made it look like normal service had been restored.  Not quite. Larkey goaled for North and then followed up with another. Well almost. Just as Bulldog supporters were saying to each other, “I knew this would happen!”, the footy-gods intervened and declared the ball was deemed to be touched.


No sign of The Bont stepping up to get the Bulldogs back on track. Perhaps we have to wait for the second half for him to do his thing. In the meantime, Cunnington was doing his best, out-muscling the Bulldog midfielders.


Bizzaro-world continued briefly. Bruce kicked a point close-in and Naughton missed the goals even closer in.


Treloar decided to snap out of it. Bursting from the centre he passed to Bruce for another goal. With his two next bursts he decided to cut out the middle-man and goal himself. Almost a six goal lead at half-time put an end to thoughts of an even match. It wasn’t so much the difference in the score-line. It was how the goals were kicked. They weren’t scrambled off the deck or flukey shots from the boundary. They were executed precisely with mid-fielders streaming from the centre and passing the ball to a leading full-forward.


Bruce having a day out kicked his fifth goal at the start of the third quarter. Then it was party time for the Bulldogs. Bontempelli had eight bounces down the wing and passed the ball to Bruce for goal number 6. North’s Anderson must be off injured freeing up The Bont. Lachy McNeil goals in  game Number 3 and is already looking forward to the next reunion. Bulldog spare ruckman and forward Tim English kicks a goal from the boundary after being in Bruce’s shadow all day.


Treloar screws one around for his third goal to ensure Collingwood supporters really do know what they’re missing. Treloar’s new best friend and partner in crime Josh Dunkley kicks a goal in the same manner. Lots of hugs between the two. When a player who’s thinking about leaving a club respects a new player coming into the club, they combine and compete to become an unstoppable force for that club.


A 55 point lead at three-quarter time it seems like ‘game-over’.  Bulldog critics are probably right when they say the team needs to really continue to pile on the pressure and get the big-percentage win. Something the Bulldogs have never been good at. After a history of often being bullied themselves, it’s not easy to suddenly become the bully.


The fourth quarter became a rout and Bruce finished with ten goals. Bontempelli without the Anderson tag and making up for his ‘mediocre’ performance, goaled with a long-bomb from 60 metres. First year player Scott kicked a goal and the third member of the Bailey trio, Dale, wandered down from his new post in the back-line and also kicked a goal. Stephenson and Scott were the only goal-kickers for North Melbourne in the ten-goal to two last quarter.


Bulldog supporters were aware it was a mighty record-breaking win. But Luke Beverage set the tone of humility when he addressed the faithful, telling everyone that he was concerned for the undermanned young Kangaroos in season 2021.



Western Bulldogs          4.2   9.6   15.10   25.17   (167)

North Melbourne           2.2   3.4    3.8      5.9       (39)



Western Bulldogs:   Bruce 10, English 3, Treloar 3, Naughton 2, Dale 2, Bontempelli, Dunkley,

Scott, McNeill, Lipinski.

North Melbourne:   Stephenson 2, Lazzaro, Larkey, Hall.



Western Bulldogs:    Bruce, Treloar, English, Bontempelli, Dunkley, Smith.

North Melbourne:     Davies-Uniacke, Cunnington, Ziebell, Stephenson.


Umpires:   Rosebury, Hosking, Gianfagna.

Official crowd:  28,483


Our Votes:   3 Bruce (WB)  2 Liberatore (WB)  1 Treloar (WB)




The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in the coming weeks. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order right now HERE


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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. Peter Fuller says

    It seems a while since I’ve seen you on the Almanac. Great to have you back, in what is shaping as a promising year for the ‘dogs.

  2. Neil Anderson says

    Thank you Peter. I think the promising-year bit encouraged me to write about my Bulldogs. Your Blue-boys are doing ok too.

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