Round 6 – GWS v Western Bulldogs: Prelim Re-visited

I had this game marked down in my calendar for a long time. What I had forgotten, was to tell my boss about it. I organised my ticket, accommodation and my fellow Doggie supporter, Peter, offered me a lift down to Canberra. I arranged with my cousin to catch up with my Uncle Dave, whom I hadn’t seen for a number of years, and now lives in a nursing home. I wasn’t confident of a win, given our recent form and particularly with injuries to our forward line. Nevertheless, memories of the Preliminary Final, which many consider to be last year’s best game, were still running through my mind (Peter says he has watched it 40 times). I knew it would be a top encounter again.

A couple of months ago I was approached at work to host a Night Food Market. Last week was the inaugural event and it turned out to be a huge success – better than any of us had expected, so much so that the Police and RMS came down to sort out the traffic snarls. I met up with the promoter during the week and was confident we had sorted out the parking issues for this Friday night. However, my boss wanted me to be there. I said I couldn’t. I was going to the footy. ‘The footy? It’s just a game. You can go anytime.’ ‘Mate. You Rugby League guys just don’t get it. When you are a Doggie for life, footy is not just a game. It’s part of your DNA.’

There was kinetic energy in my body propelling me toward Canberra. Thoughts were running through my mind. Maybe I could go to work, leave later, but what if UDA broke down? I could miss the game altogether. And anyway, that’s not going to solve the markets problem. Further thoughts were of passing it all up, looking after the markets and watching a recording of the game at midnight.

Good old Uncle Dave. He was the Saving Grace. Whilst he couldn’t understand my footy obsession, my boss could understand me wanting to see my ageing uncle, particularly after my own father (his younger brother) had passed away recently. ‘Ok, you can go, said my boss. ‘But you’re doing the next two Friday nights!’

So, it came to pass. Peter and Carol picked me up; we had a pleasant drive talking footy non-stop, and then called in to the old Paragon Café at Goulburn for lunch. After all those years since I had last visited it and despite the new by-pass, it was packed. The food was still only just, but who cares? The atmosphere was great – the place you just have to visit.

I caught up with Uncle Dave later in the day and even though he couldn’t really remember me, he cracked a few jokes just the way dad used to. The humour DNA runs through my family, even if the Doggie DNA is confined to only me.

Trying to get a late-afternoon coffee with my Canberra cousins wasn’t easy. Over the road from Manuka Oval where my cousin used to play as a youth, nearly everything was shut. My comment to the girl who could offer me take-away only ‘Is there anything open in Canberra?’ didn’t go down too well at all. Fortunately my cousins laughed. They know Canberra only too well.

After dropping my ticket outside the hotel but having it thankfully handed in by a Doggie supporter and enjoying a good meal at the Eastlakes Club (home of Jezza) with a lot of Doggie supporters evident, we headed for the game. We caught up with Danny who has been living in New York for the last six years but flew back for the Grand Final. He has now come home for good to lap up the promise of successful Doggie years to come. Leon ‘The Wise Dog’ had made the trip as well.

Finally the game was on.

In the opening minute, Rory Lobb scored a goal from a ridiculous out-of-bounds on the full free kick which happened right in front of us. It set the tone for the night. Lobb just watched the ball roll out of play without making any attempt to touch it when he had ample time to pick it up and dispose of it. He played for the free and won out. For the rest of the night Fred behind me never stopped harping on about the out of bounds on the full rule and that the incident that had just occurred was the most disgraceful decision he had seen in all his days!

Of course the GWS players took no notice of his whingeing and within minutes Patton had goaled. GWS were two goals in front. ‘It’s not looking good, Eileen’ said Fred, the backseat commentator. A great kick to Adams was the Dogs’ first foray but it resulted in only a rushed behind. Suddenly a goal to Suckling then Daniel and we were back in it. Green steered one through for the Giants to give them a 5 point lead at the quarter-time break.

The second quarter was a toss-up for honours – Cameron’s 3 goals or our deplorable kicking. Bontempelli kicked 2 for us and Stringer one, but we should have been way ahead instead of just 9 points: 6-3 to 6-12 said it all.

The third quarter started the same way. Libba’s shot hit the post . Cameron and Greene goaled for GWS and Daniel pulled back one for us after being whacked in the face by Greene. The umpire paid a free kick but then gave a 50 metre penalty when he saw the incident replayed on the big screen. Our kicking was still killing us: 2.3 to 1.5. We were only 5 points in front at 3/4 time.

The last quarter, like last year’s game, was a thriller. The Bont and Stringer goaled for us and Patton kicked a couple for GWS. However, Greene, that thorn in our side, put through an excellent pressure shot to put them in front. ‘It’s not looking good, Eileen’ came up from behind. We attacked in the final minutes. McLean missed a gettable shot then after taking a mark Boyd shanked his kick for goal. The siren sounded and we had lost by 2 points. We were clearly the better team on the night but the old adage came back to haunt us yet again – bad kicking is bad football. It has been the story of the Dogs’ season so far.

Still, undeterred, we agreed to all get together next week at the Camelia Grove Hotel to see the game against the Tigers. It is where the Sydney-based Tigers go to see their games, so we will come out in force. May the claws be sharpened!

GWS Giants                        3.3          6.3          8.6          11.9 75

Western Bulldogs            2.4          6.12        7.17        9.19 73


GWS: Cameron 4, Greene 3, Patton 3, Lobb

Bulldogs: Bontempelli 3, Stringer 3, Daniel 2, Suckling


GWS: Williams, Ward, Cameron, Haynes, Mumford,


Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Bontempelli, Johannisen, Dahlhaus, Daniel

Our votes: Williams, Macrae, Dahlhaus

Umpires: Deboy, Meredith, Ryan

Attendance at Manuka: 14,048


About Les Currie

I'm a passionate lifelong Bulldog supporter born and raised in Melbourne, After stints in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne I have now been in Sydney for the last 30 years. I have been involved in the arts all my life predominantly as a Theatre Producer and Manager with early stints in film and television. I am now getting back into writing and enjoying developing the character of Zuka the Flying Wonder Dog and working on a novel set in post '54 Footscray. When not working, writing, watching plays or movies or watching footy I'm at the beach or in the bush avoiding traffic.


  1. John Butler says

    This was a great game Les.

    This particular rivalry will be resumed.


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