Round 3 Western Bulldogs v Hawthorn: It was the Best of Times, the Worst of Times the Day the Music Died

Western Bulldogs versus Hawthorn

3.20 pm, Sunday, 10th April

Etihad Stadium


Neil Anderson


It was hard to come up with an original theme for this match after the scribes had used the obvious headlines by Friday.


“Can the emerging Bulldogs defeat the reigning premiers?”  “Can the Premiership kings be dethroned by the young and inexperienced Bulldogs?” And my favourite, “ Can football royalty be over-thrown by the working-class heroes?”


I may opt for a Dickensian theme because of the Bulldog’s great expectations and a tale of two cities. Well, a tale of the two suburbs of Footscray and Hawthorn where never the twain shall meet, except on the football-field once or twice a year. The two Clubs did meet once in a Grand Final in 1961 before they went their separate ways. Footscray experiencing the hard times and bleak- houses while Hawthorn fulfilled their own great expectations.


55 years after Hawthorn defeated Footscray for its first premiership a lot has changed for the suburbs and the football-teams. Charlie Sutton would be amazed how the working- class cottages of his Yarraville and Seddon neighbourhood are fetching prices around the million dollar mark. The Footscray Football Club is now the one full of great expectations while the Hawthorn Football Club is at least wary of a new challenge to their throne.


The other theme of the day will involve luck. Two highly skilled teams determined to win, but which team will get the right bounce of that elusive Milne-ball, or the benefit of the new grey-area ‘deliberate out-of-bounds’ rule.


I  will explain further about the day the music died at the end of the report. It’s obviously about Bob Murphy, but I need more time before I can process how I feel about the tragedy. It’s still very raw.


The first quarter and the Bulldogs started like they usually do, full of energy. But it was nervous energy. The Hawks attacked the ball as well as the Dogs but after a history of performing on the big stage and usually winning, they were nerveless. The Hawks hit their targets when under pressure, whereas the Dogs missed targets and fumbled the ball, particularly in front of goal. The footy-gods who would return in last few minutes of the match for an encore, went to work on the Dogs in the first quarter. The footy-gods and Razor-Ray Chamberlain. I hope it wasn’t Terry Wallace’s son who was also umpiring who penalised Adams for holding the ball after Rioli had Adams in a front-on head-lock.  It sounds more like Razor.


So on it went in a series of ‘almost moments’ for the Dogs. Stringer continued to slip over or run under the in-coming ball and players like Gunston were awarded a dicey free-kick in front of goal. The score hadn’t blown out by the end of the quarter, but the most worrying aspect was the Hawk’s talls who literally stood tall when required.  McEvoy easily out-reaching his opponents and marking in front of goal. If the Bulldogs running brigade isn’t winning, the team is at a disadvantage relying on one designated ruckman to help defend, or go forward and kick the occasional goal. Dogs only 14 points down so no real damage done at quarter-time.


The footy-gods made a brief appearance at the start of the second quarter when they organised Rioli to shuffle his former team-mate Suckling over the boundary. It was deemed that Suckers had  deliberately taken the ball out of bounds. The footy-gods made one more appearance before they retired and later returned for last few minutes of the match. They allowed Schoenmakers to throw Dale Morris aside in a marking contest well before the ball was in the vicinity.


Just as the footy-gods had turned their backs and were heading to the bar, McLean was tackled around the neck and was awarded a free-kick which allowed him to kick the first goal for the Bulldogs. Self-belief started to return for the Bulldogs with Marcus Adams marking confidently on the back-line and although there wasn’t exactly a goal avalanche, three more goals for the Dogs meant they were only trailing by six points at half-time. The footy-gods must have been watching the races instead of the footy in the bar, when Roughead intercepted a Hawk-ball kicked across the goal-face which subsequently allowed him to kick an easy one for the Dogs.


The third quarter was the most productive quarter for the Dogs. Someone must have told Razor and his colleagues that the free-kick numbers were out of whack. Or maybe Gill sent a message saying he wanted to see his ‘sexy’ team win because it would be good for football. Whether it was the footy- gods sleeping it off, or the ball bouncing the right way for the Dogs, they won the quarter six goals to two. Bulldog supporters would have liked a five or six goal lead to feel a bit safer…but we were excited about a possible win anyway. What we didn’t know that high up in the stands in one of the bars, the footy-gods were stirring after their nap. Realising the last quarter was about to begin, they began to plan something special to occur in the last few minutes of the match. Something special to get the footy-world talking and break Bulldog-supporters’ hearts.


The footy-gods must have thought their work was done early in the last quarter with McEvoy and Sicily marking and kicking easy goals. Pressure? What pressure? The Hawks ate that stuff for breakfast! Even the great man Rioli must have thought his seven possessions weren’t quite enough, so it was time to fly for the mark of the day and then goal, just when his team needed him. The diminutive Caleb Daniel tried to do it all but he couldn’t spoil the lanky Ceglar who marked and goaled for the Hawks. Tom Boyd roved the ball and snapped an angle-goal giving Bulldog supporters some hope they might get value for their pound of football-flesh in the near future. Goal for goal as both teams neared the finishing-line, including Stringer kicking his first goal after being well-beaten by Stratton all day.


Enter the footy-gods when the Bulldogs were three points ahead. Three points ahead of the triple-premiership team. Our brave captain trying to spoil a Sicily mark twisted his left knee and slumped to the ground. Bulldog supporters everywhere stopped wondering if Sicily could kick the winning goal. We just focussed on our captain. Sicily kicking the winning goal even after such a rugged, tight and skilful contest suddenly became irrelevant.


Bob Murphy is a music-lover. Even when he makes a speech or is interviewed on television, a lot of what he says could be used as lyrics in a song. In another life he would have been a wandering- minstrel entertaining people with songs and poetry. So now we have to do without his gentle musings and his quiet confidence to lead the young Bulldogs. But we’ll miss his music most of all, hopefully not for long.


To emphasise just what a large part that music plays in  the heart and soul of Bob Murphy, this is part of what he tweeted to all his well-wishers on Sunday night :

“ Too many sad songs on the radio today.”


Western Bulldogs   0.2  4.5  10.8  13.12   90

Hawthorn               2.4  5.5  7.7  14.9      93


  1. Bulldogs: Dahlhaus 2, Biggs 2, McLean 2, Daniel, Roughead, Stringer, Bontempelli, Suckling, Wallis, T. Boyd.

Hawthorn:  Rioli 3, Sicily 3, Gunston 2, Breust 2, McEvoy 2, Ceglar.


  1. Bulldogs: Dahlhaus, Daniel, Adams, Suskling, Biggs, Murphy.

Hawthorn:   Stratton, Sicily, Mitchell, Smith, Burgoyne, Birchall, Rioli.

Umpires:     Donlon, Chamberlain, Wallace.

Official crowd:   46,808

Our Votes:   3 Dahlhaus (WB) 2 Daniel (WB) 1 Stratton (H)







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. Steve Hodder says

    with all your references to the “footy-Gods” you seem to have inadvertently written your piece in a more Homeric, rather than Dickensian theme. Murphy’s injury is as tragic as it gets.


  2. Well played Neil. Most enjoyable non-Eagles game I have watched for ages. Credit to both teams and both coaches.
    On a scale of 1-10 my sadness at seeing a serious injury to an opposition player:
    Luke Hodge – 0; Aaron Sandilands – 5; Bob Murphy – 100. I can’t remember a more universally loved and admired person and player in AFL.

  3. Wonderful report Neil. I was barracking hard for the Doggies to get over the line. I have a very good mate who has supported the Doggies for decades. He was at the game. With a few minutes to go he sent me a text:

    “I think I need a new dry cleaner”

    Must have been tense.

    Murphy’s knee was very sad but someone else needs to stand in his shoes. That’s what good teams do.

  4. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Steve. Yes it did start as Dickens and morphed into more Homer and tragedy as the match wore on.
    That was even before the final act was played out.
    Bulldog supporters have built-in impending tragedy-detectors and can pick something bad about to happen well before it occurs. Blaming footy-gods is the best way to explain it.
    Thanks Peter. All Bulldog supporters will try and think of the positives after we hear more from Bob about his situation. He will be particularly valuable for the team sitting next to his old mate Gia in the coach’s box or on the inter-change area, talking to the players as they come on and off the field.

  5. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Dips. I was saying to JTH recently that the young Bulldog team emerging as contenders reminded me of Geelong in 2007.
    It seems like the better way to go is to persevere with a young squad even if it takes longer for success, rather than recruiting a handful of players from other Clubs.
    The tip for Murphy’s replacement is Jed Adcock, the experienced ex-captain of the Lions. The Bulldogs have good depth with their list this year which will be handy as the season rolls on.

  6. Gareth meyer says

    Hi Neil. Commiserations with the loss. Like the musical reference to the Buddy Holly et al. And thanks for commenting on my piece.

  7. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Gareth. I assume you’re fairly young which in my world is anyone in their twenty’s, thirties or forties. So well done on picking up on the Buddy Holly reference. I see Don McLean was in trouble recently, something to do with domestic violence.
    I know Bob Murphy is an Elvis and Johnny Cash fan so I reckon he would be into Buddy Holly music as well.
    He’s also a good friend of Paul Kelly which is not surprising seeing that they are both great story-tellers.
    Good luck with your writing.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    The bloody footy gods. Why Bob, why?? They are surely helping the cause of footy atheism.
    Only watched the final quarter. Footy at it’s best. Hope R.Murphy returns, still has much to offer your team next season and maybe beyond. Boomer Harvey a fine example for him.
    Great writing Neil.

  9. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Luke.
    We got three different thoughts on Bob Murphy last night on 360.
    Robbo reiterating on his previous thoughts that we should all move on when we think about things so much worse such as the death of the girl in Preston. Brian Lake spoke from the top of the triple-premiership mountain and said Bob should give it away, based on his age and he hasn’t been captain that long anyway. I can understand why Rocket Eade pulled out the last of his hair when he tried to coach Lake.
    Gerrad Whatley as kind and considerate as ever, just like Bob himself, said the other night that what happened to Bob would stay with him for the rest of the season.
    Bob has already been seen at training on his crutches so I’m guessing and hoping he will be back to play next year. He has his three-hundreth game to play and a premiership to win.

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