Round 9 – Western Bulldogs v GWS: Leaving The Family

Bulldogs versus GWS
4.40 pm, Saturday, 30th May
Etihad Stadium
Neil Anderson


Some games are season-defining. This will be one of them and it’s not just a cliché- filled opening statement by the very-serious but astute Gerald Whateley on his 360 program.

Fremantle, Hawthorn and Sydney in recent years have had the luxury of never having to consider the consequences of a loss so early in the season. Not so for the Bulldogs.

Consider some of the ramifications of losing, starting with the financial. President Peter Gordon, who gets the chance to promote the Bulldogs each Friday on the Jon Faine program of course picks the Bulldogs every week and last week added, “ Yes, we’ll beat GWS and that will mean we’ll achieve our record membership.”

In other words he knew a win was vital to sign up that group of supporters who were doubting the Bulldogs’ credentials after three losses in a row. If they win and play an attractive brand of football, the Club can also lobby for some Friday-night games next year after none were scheduled for this year. Winning will also attract more people to attend games at Docklands to help pay the exorbitant rent.

Playing against GWS and winning is vital because of what happened in the last Round of 2014. The Bulldogs lost and it set of a chain of events including the defection of skipper Griffen and the resignation of coach McCartney. Just as important, it took the wind out of the sails of all Bulldog supporters who had seen glimpses of the emerging talent, particularly Marcus Bontempelli. But after that loss to GWS, the win-loss ratio meant the team had stalled in its progress. There was also that reminder of being robbed of those early draft picks and then beaten by a team with only about three years in the system. History showed of course that many players weren’t effective for whatever reason under coach McCartney and it later became clear Griffen didn’t want to stay at the Bulldogs anyway. Ironically, Griffen racked up a heap of possessions on his last day with the Bulldogs and was one of the best on the ground.

Then there is the added needle of seeing one of Footscray’s favourite young sons Callan Ward playing for GWS. A potential fifteen-year player who lived locally and traded to the GWS for a hand-full of beans. That hurt far more than seeing a disgruntled Griffen at the end of his career go to that same Club.

So with a combination of recent history with GWS and being dispirited after losing to Melbourne last week, it is little wonder I watch the two teams run out on to the ground with great trepidation. I have picked the Bulldogs in the tipping based on the hope they will steel themselves to play a team near the top of the ladder, just like they did against Sydney. It’s amazing how you can rationalise a possible win by Friday after checking the fixture on Monday and wondering where the next win will come from.

No Stringer no Crameri …no worries. The first ten minutes allayed my fears that the players weren’t switched on. It was frantic and desperate with Mitch Wallis leading the way and Will Minson out-rucking the even bulkier Mumford. It was like Luke Beveridge had held him back in the traces for a few weeks and then let him have his head. As Will later wrote on the football he handed to a supporter in the crowd, “ It was the best $7,500 I’ve ever spent”, referring to his fine rather than four weeks suspension.

Everything went according to plan. Goals and not points were kicked under pressure by Bulldog mid-fielders and small forwards. Eight goals for the quarter instead of two last week, this time getting reward for all the inside-fifties. GWS only managed two goals with Cameron kicking the last one right on the siren.

The second quarter GWS stopped the Bulldogs dominance and won the quarter by one goal. Bulldog supporters would be happy to break even rather than see GWS start a big comeback. As the commentators kept reminding their audience, GWS might finish full of running and they didn’t need to remind Bulldog supporters that St Kilda ended up winning after being 55 points down. Melbourne also finished stronger than the Bulldogs last week.

The challenge from GWS came at the start of the third quarter with Treloar and Scully kicking two goals in a row. Instead of season-defining it then became a game-defining moment involving Koby Stevens. As the ball was cleared from the Bulldog back-line, Stevens followed the pack seemingly at jogging pace and as he neared the forward-fifty line, he sprinted to the pocket to make a lead and mark the ball, although virtually on the boundary. That effort from the Bulldogs’ Indigenous representative showed Bulldog supporters their team hadn’t tired and would not be run over this time. Steven’s goal from the boundary was the icing on the cake and became the impetus for Dickson and Minson to kick two more goals making it a 45 point lead at three quarter time.

Confidence is the best attribute if you are matched against a team roughly at the same stage of development with a squad of young players. If you go into the last quarter seven goals up you can afford to run and be creative and everything you try seems to work. Conversely, if the opposition lacks confidence they will become hesitant and defensive. That scenario has happened to the Bulldogs many times over the years and stresses the importance of starting the match well.

At one stage the Bulldogs led by 61 points and ended up winning by 45 points. It also means the Bulldogs have beaten five teams in the eight, all above them on the ladder, which gives supporters that greatest gift of all. Hope.

It certainly feels more spring-like than the start of winter which the dictionary describes as a period of decline, decay and inertia. Like I said, a season-defining match for the Bulldogs and their supporters.

Bulldogs 8.1 10.5 13.12 16.17 113
GWS 2.0 5.0 7.0 11.2 68

W.Bulldogs: Dickson 4, Dahlhaus, Minson, Picken 2, T. Boyd, Wallis, Johannisen, Stevens, Grant, Murphy.
GWS: Cameron 3, Greene, Stewart, 2, Treloar, Scully, McCarthy, Griffen.
W. Bulldogs: Wallis, Wood, M.Boyd, Dahlhaus, Minson, Roughead , Hamling.
Umpires: Chamberlain, McInerney, Armstrong.
Official crowd : 16,395
Our Votes: 3 Wallis (WB) 2 Wood (WB) 1 M. Boyd (WB)

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

    I saw the Bulldogs for the first time this season as a spectator (rather than on the box). I was very impressed. They completely nullified GWS and by knocking their confidence early, rendered them impotent. Boyd, Wallis and Minson were superb. I was surprised by how thoroughly Minson dominated Mumford, who I rate very highly.
    Picken’s job on Griffin was outstanding. I thought the booing of Griffin was pantomine, somewhat half-hearted compared to the real hostility endured (embraced?) by Adam Goodes at the G a week earlier.
    Well done your team, good luck from here on. Perhaps we could catch up at the WB v Carlton match?

  2. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Peter.
    As usual I spend a lot of time thinking of the right title for an article. The first thought was to call it ‘Leaving The Family’ which the Almanac admin used because it was all about Griffen and Ward leaving the Dogs. But then the season-defining theme took over.
    I too hate the mindless pantomime booing. I think of Griffen as that country boy from South Australia who was fed up with football generally and not someone who deserted the Bulldogs. I’ve even wondered if he thought by going elsewhere, he knew the Dogs would get a decent player in return.
    I would like to gear up for the Carlton match so will keep in touch. I will bring copies of those short-stories since my well-meaning wife hasn’t scanned them as yet.

  3. kath presdee says

    Great report Neil. If anything it showed that the Doggies know how to lift for a “big game” and GWS can’t quite steel themselves out of a funk if they go in over-confident and the other team goes in strong. Well played by the Doggies.

    What I thought was strange was Ward getting booed as well as Griff. I can understand Griff but it’s been three years and I don’t recall Ward getting booed before.

  4. Good report Neil and good to see your Bulldogs pulling themselves together again for a great win.
    I am greatly impressed by Luke Beveridge as with our man Simpson. The Clarko strategic way of seeing the world has rubbed off on both of them. They are prepared to lose some battles to win the war.
    To me Minson was obviously not playing the way he wanted, and he dropped him for a protracted period to make the point.

  5. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Kath
    I realized later I hadn’t given much credit to the GWS boys. If your guys could have got it down to Cameron a few times, it would be a much more even game. Whereas ex-giant Boyd is not quite as advanced and we have to cross our fingers every time he has a shot directly in front of goal.
    Thanks Peter B
    I too like seeing Beveridge and Simpson in the coaching box. Cool calm and collected. Beveridge has sent Minson, McCrae and Jong back to the VFL and made them hungrier than ever to succeed in the AFL. I also like the way he has experimented with players like M. Boyd in different roles on the field. Not happy he left Cordy in the ruck by himself for so long however.

  6. Yeah, the Ward one is surprising as he and Crossy are still greatly admired at the kennel. Makes no real difference though – all in OK spirit. Hopefully Tom Boyd’s good enough to be booed in the future.
    Bevo is setting standards and look at how Wallis has responded – whereas Hunter has got a fair bit to learn Young McLean might be the next one to get a taste although he’s pretty light (but very talented). Presumably Tallia is still in the bigger picture. Not surprised that Crameri wasn’t missed – he’s a bit of our Daisy Thomas.

  7. Bob Speechley says

    Great observations from all of the above but barely a mention of the major role Roughead played at the hit outs and around the ground. Great backup for Will. I disagree with Crio regarding Crameri who does so much to keep the ball on our forward line as well as creating openings for others. Would like to catch up with you (Neil) and Peter at the Carlton game on Independence Day. There aren’t a lot of 1954 veterans still around

  8. Neil Anderson says

    Yes, the Roughead experiment worked well. We’ve been screaming out for the second mobile, forward-playing type- ruckman for years. I hope Joel Hamling and Talia can hold down those back-line posts to allow this to happen.
    I’ve marked down the Carlton/Bulldogs match to attend on July 4th Bob so hope to catch-up then. Will email a bit closer to the date.

  9. Peter Fuller says

    I’d also welcome your company on 4th July. It’s just a matter of determining a rendezvous and meeting time, closer to the date.

  10. Bob Speechley says

    I am a paid up Doggies member and generally stand on the wing on the Dock side outside the Victory Bar. – my email is [email protected]. Look forward to meeting up.

  11. McLean’s been named this week.

  12. cowshedend says

    Nice work again Neil, bet you won’t be hearing any boos at the Carlton game for Liam Jones, the laughs will drown the boos out!

  13. Neil Anderson says

    Well selected Crio. Sorry to see Picken and Bontempelli nobbled though.
    Cowshedend, I’m trying to hang back on stirring up Carlton and laughing at the Jones boy until we beat them first. It’s a bit Danny from Droop street, but the Dogs have a history of suddenly getting beaten by teams looking for their first win for a while and also having to face teams that have a heap of good players back from injury.
    If we win on July 4th I’ll let rip with the vitriol and scorn I’ve built up over the years because of that Club.

  14. Great article again, Neil. I know the Carlton game is almost a month away, but I think it could be a danger game for the Bulldogs, particularly if A Everitt, L Jones and J Tutt are on song. I remember in the 1970s, the Dogs would beat the Blues once virtually every year despite the Princes Park boys being at the height of their powers.

Leave a Comment