Round 3 – Western Bulldogs v Hawthorn: The Father-Son Rivalry Continues

Western Bulldogs    0.2    4.5    10.8    13.12.90
Hawthorn                  2.4    5.5    7.7       14.9.93

Western Bulldogs: McLean 2, Biggs 2, Dahlhaus 2, Roughead, Bontempelli, Daniel, Suckling, Wallis, T. Boyd, Stringer
Hawthorn: Rioli 3, Sicily 3, Gunston 2, McEvoy 2, Breust 2, Schoenmakers, Ceglar

Western Bulldogs: Dahlhaus, Daniel, Adams, Murphy, Morris, M.Boyd, Suckling
Hawthorn: Sicily, Stratton, Mitchell, Burgoyne, Birchall, Smith, Rioli

Crowd: 46,808

Umpires: Donlon, Chamberlain, Wallace

Votes: 3: J.Sicily (Hawthorn) 2: L.Dahlhaus (Western Bulldogs) 1: C.Daniel (Western Bulldogs)

Whenever the Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn meet during the pre-season, I always get a little bit more excited than usual, because it’s not just a regular Western Bulldog game in the Docherty household. It’s the next chapter in the ‘Father-Son rivalry’. My father has been a Hawks supporter since the day I was born, and even then his pledge of allegiance for the brown and gold stretches further than that.

I can vaguely remember when I started supporting the Bulldogs as a little tacker. My Dad was pretty keen to get me to join him as a Hawthorn supporter and my mum – a tigers supporter – did what she could’ve to get me to fly the yellow and black flag. But for some reason, I stuck with the Bulldogs. I’ve been told by my folks that I followed my grandfather’s footsteps as he loved watching Footscray back in his day, and also how I idolised Bulldogs champion Chris Grant too much. I stick by those two factors.

My Dad and I have been to many Hawks/Bulldogs matches since I started supporting the red, white and blues. My lot have won some matches, Hawks have won the others. The last game we went to, was back in 2011, when the Bulldogs were on the decline, and the Hawks were slowly, but surely climbing back up to the top. The Hawks won that afternoon and Dad always seems to be secret with his celebrations. He knows I absolutely hate it when we lose to them. In fact the last time we beat the Hawks was back in 2010, since then they’ve won the last seven.

After three years of the two sides clashing in Tasmania, they return back on home soil, and I was desperate to take my old man and the my Bulldog-supporting younger brothers to the game, but like last weekend, work commitments got in the way of it and I was extremely disappointed, This was our best chance of knocking out the champs, but you gotta make some money in life. It didn’t stop me from taking my brothers to watch the Bulldogs’ VFL team play in Footscray. A 49-point win with a side order of hot chips was a pretty good way to start the day.

On the drive home, we heard some pretty awful news that last year’s best and fairest winner Easton Wood was a late out for us, after Luke Beveridge had said there would be no change. I knew he was telling fibs, My brothers and I saw Woody hanging around with Tory Dickson near the ‘Scray’s bench during the game.

The boys and I returned home with time to spare for the first bounce. We quickly tuned in to the other game between North and Melbourne, what a high-scoring game they’re playing but it looked like North were slowly getting away.

And then first bounce in one of the most eagerly anticipated games so far this season. Jake Stringer squandered an early chance at goal, and the Hawks kicked the only two goals of the quarter, but it didn’t come without some rather dubious calls from the umpire. My brother Leigh and I were complaining towards the TV as most supporters would.

“They’re screwing us over, AGAIN!” My brother moaned, but my Dad, trying to be diplomatic about the whole situation responded:

“The umpires are only calling it as they see it”

“How can they call that high contact when Morris was no where near his head?” I retorted as Jack Gunston slotted the goal from the free kick. Hawthorn’s defensive tactics meant that the Bulldogs’ run and carry game plan was no good and the Hawks took advantage of the turnovers. It was quarter time and the Dogs found themselves down by 14 but failed to register a goal. The Dogs were often specialists at starting fast but the champs had their number.

Six hours of work later and I return home and sit on the couch and resume watching. Everyone else in the house knows who won, but remain tight-lipped until I watched it all, but Dad sat on the couch with me, iPad in hand.

Suckling fumbled the ball and tripped himself over the boundary line in the Dogs’ back pocket, but the umpire somehow deemed that deliberate. I’m a fan of this new deliberate out of bounds rule, but I’m not believing that was a free kick, and of course it was Cyril Rioli who slotted the goal from the pocket. Last year’s Norm Smith Medallist can almost do it all. The Hawks get out to a 32-point lead as Schoenmakers and Rioli kick the next two and I’m thinking that’s it, they’ve figured it out.

Without Stewart Crameri and Tory Dickson in the side and Jake Stringer and Tom Boyd being well held, we’re not looking like kicking a goal if their lives depended on it, but then Toby McLean calmly settled his nerves with the Dogs first. He’s slowly becoming one of my favourites in this Bulldogs side. Jordan Roughead then intercepted a handpass in the forward 50 to stroll through for their second, and the Bont snaps one through a couple of minutes later. Yes! We’re coming back, and the Shane Biggs goes bang to make it four on the trot!

“NOTORIOUS!!!!!” I scream as Biggsy goals, referencing him to the famous rapper Notorious B.I.G, just add another ‘G’ to that, and you’ve got a nickname that sits well with our little gang of Bulldogs supporters. Lachie Hunter and Lin Jong failed to convert their opportunities, but the Dogs find themselves down by a goal at half time when it seemed like all was lost. The Dogs wrangled control of this game out of the hands of the three-time reigning premiers.

And they held onto that control. Despite goals at the other end from Breust and Gunston, the Dogs led by the brilliance of the diminutive duo Luke Dahlhaus and Caleb Daniel, piled on six goals, to not just take the lead, but run out to 19-point advantage by the third term. Surely we couldn’t beat them here. But I know my old man’s Hawks well enough to know that they weren’t ready to roll over just yet.

The final quarter was when it all began to open up. The champs landed the first couple of blows to start of the last quarter. McEvoy – Bang! Rioli – Bang! Sicily – Bang! And they were back in front after only eight minutes. Tom Boyd missed two shots on goal before the umpire gifted Jonathan Ceglar a shot on goal that he converted and put the Hawks back in front. Those bastards have had a horrific day in the office, handing out questionable frees and missing others that went both ways.

Big Tom finally got his first with a brilliant snap goal to give them back the lead, and in no time at all, Luke Breust responded with a goal of his own. This was blow for blow and I was on the edge of the couch hoping that the Dogs would pull through. James Sicily put through his second for the quarter and the Hawks were up by nine. Hawthorn looked like they were going to get away with the win. But the Dogs showed the AFL universe why they were a force to be reckoned with in 2016. A one-two combo put them back in front with three minutes to play. Luke Dahlhaus dribble-kicked one that went through, and Jake Stringer, with Ben Stratton all over him all day long finally kicked a goal.

I’m sitting here on the couch almost praying that the Dogs get over the line, I’m sick of seeing the Hawks beat us time after time. Luke Dahlhaus missed a crucial opportunity to ice the game and within the seconds, the ball is up the other end. James Sicily takes an uncontested mark, as the Bulldogs captain Bob Murphy pulls up with a knee injury. Murphy was locked up with Luke Breust in what seemed like an innocuous contest, but the signs didn’t look good, as I fear it may be the dreaded ACL injury that forced Tom Liberatore to miss all of last year. It’s not Bob’s first ACL injury either and fears of a premature end to his career enter my thoughts, I seriously hope he plays on, this would be a really shit way to end a career of someone who isn’t just loved by the Bulldog community, but by the vast majority of those who love AFL as much as Bob.

Sicily calmly slotted it from 40 metres out to give the Dogs the knockout blow, as if Murphy going down wasn’t bad enough. The Dogs give it one last crack with under a minute to go, but the experience of Hawthorn hold on to pinch an epic contest. I tip my hat off to the Hawks for the win, because they earned it, and the players knew it. For my Bulldogs, I give them nothing but praise, 18 months ago, they probably would’ve rolled over, but they stuck it through to the very end and any doubts about us being the real deal would’ve been erased if it hadn’t been for the Murphy injury, with him possibly out for the season, who knows what’ll happen for the rest of the year?

Deflated and exhausted after a long day, I go to bed to retire for the night. The thoughts of the ramifications of the Murphy injury and the finish to what was an awesome game of footy, nearly brought a tear to my eye.

“Well played Dad” I said to the old man before I headed to my room. It looks like I’ll have to wait a little bit longer until I see my beloved Dogs finally get one over Father’s Hawks.

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.


  1. Steve Hodder says

    you seem to have forgotten Footscray’s great win over Box Hill in the 2014 VFL Grand Final? I think you and your Da are in for some great matches in the future.

    I could sense the emotion of it all from your words. A nice piece to read, although admittedly, like your Da, I already knew the result.


  2. Daniel Flesch says

    Very well said , Alex. All of it . And i’m with you on the super-dubious deliberate out of bounds decision against Suckling that gifted Hawthorn a goal . Same for the one against Mitchell – he was so non-plussed when pinged he didn’t look indignant – just laughed. On the AFL website it’s self-congratulation for a new interpretation of the rule working well. I reckon it’s a case of “fixing” something that wasn’t “broke.” There are going to be lots more contentious decisions , some of which are going to decide matches . You could even argue now that Rioli’s first quarter goal is an example , given the narrow three point win. And there’s going to be multiple instances of crowds screaming “deliberate !” as if all the wrong and silly cries of “baaaalll” aren’t already enough….Can also relate to you and your dad’s rivalry -relationship. One of my best mates – a Bob like your unfortunate Captain -and i met in Year 7 in 1961 , the year “my” Hawks won their first Flag , denying “his” Dogs their second. Hawthorn’s subsequent success compared to the Dogs’ lack of it has at times strained our friendship. After Sunday’s match i tried to reassure him NEXT year will be the Bob Murphy led Dogs’ year, and i so hope to be proved right.

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