The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 1 – Western Bulldogs v Geelong

The first printed edition of The Footy Almanac came out in 2007, before we had a website. In the absence of a real 2020 season, we will be publishing the 2007 pieces for the first time ever on www.footyalmanac.com.au. Follow the season!

 

 

Western Bulldogs v Geelong
2.10pm, Sunday, April 1
Telstra Dome, Melbourne

by John Harms

 

The opening-round clash between the Western Bulldogs and Geelong at Telstra Dome looked a delicious prospect. Both clubs had named strong sides and were determined to honour the promise they had shown over the summer. The Bullies, with a maturing list brimful of the speedy and the skilful, and a new recruit called Jason Akermanis, looked to be a genuine contender in 2007. The Cats, coming off a frustrating season, were looking to win back the faith of their troubled fans, many of whom thought Bomber Thompson was lucky to keep his job. Reasoned judgment suggested they might scrape into the eight.

 

Conditions could hardly have been better. The autumn sunshine and the new season had the big crowd in a good mood. People eating. Drinking. Meeting up again. Footy can raise your spirits. It keeps you feeling young and forever-hopeful. On this warm Sunday it made a Bulldog octogenarian in a pair of Dunlop KT26s sing, “We’ll come out snarlin’,” like he was still at primary school, as his boys ran through the banner.

 

As the teams took their positions the principal question seemed whether the pace of the Bulldogs was more significant than the height of the Geelong forward line.

 

The opening minutes were fast and furious, punctuated by tight scrimmages, the sides trading goals. Cameron Mooney baulked Scott West and ran into an open goal. Nathan Ablett was moving well. The Cats had a fully functioning forward line and were getting enough of the ball through the middle to make the Scraggers pay.

 

But the second quarter was all the Dogs. They pounced on a series of Geelong mistakes. The first came from Josh Hunt who couldn’t resist being third man up in a marking contest in the goal square. A distinct absence of spoil in his spoil meant the footy spilled to Murphy, whose goal sent the faithful wild. Andrew Mackie fumbled and the Cats bumbled. You could see their confidence escape, and a guilty silence descend on the whole team.

 

By contrast, Footscray took advantage of every turnover, moving the ball quickly into Brad Johnson, who was in sparkling touch. When the footy is being delivered with such precision, all he needs is a bit of space, and Johnson knows exactly where to lead. He also pulled down a couple of big marks where his eyes never left the footy. He is as courageous as he is skilful. His fourth for the quarter put the Dogs well clear.

 

It wasn’t all Johnson. With the Dogs sending the ball around the park in a frenzy, Aka found himself on the end of a looping handball. Running at full pace and further into the pocket, most players would have propped, turned back onto their right, and snapped across their body from 35 metres. Not Aka. Such is his relationship with Nature that he kept his line and, without breaking stride, slotted the goal with a conventional left-foot drop punt. It was as pure a sporting act as you will see; a moment of soul. The crowd – the whole crowd – knew it. The players knew it. And his team-mates went to him to recognise it.

 

The Cats needed inspiration. When David Wojcinski backed his own pace and swerve to leave opponents clutching at air, dobbing a long goal from 60 metres, they had it. Yet no Geelong players went to him, even though it gave them a sniff just on half-time.

 

The Cats made every effort in the second half but just weren’t good enough. The Dogs ran magnificently, and the accuracy of their foot-passing and handballing was a delight to watch. Having consolidated their authority in the third quarter, they cruised. Johnson took yet another big mark and kicked his eighth goal, and smiled the smile of a patient man who has never sought accolades.

 

Corey Enright battled his heart out but again the Cats’ effort lacked the shine that spirit gives a team. A few consolation goals made the scoreboard look more acceptable but plenty of Geelong fans left feeling like it wasn’t a new beginning – more like Round 23 of 2006.

 

The Dogs left happy and optimistic, and with the deeds of their humble champion Brad Johnson fixed in their memories.

 

Western Bulldogs 4.5 11.7 15.8 17.11 (113)
Geelong 5.3 7.9 8.13 13.15 (93)


GOALS
Bulldogs:
Johnson 8; Cooney, Giansiracusa 2; Gilbee, Akermanis, Hargrave, Darcy, Murphy.
Geelong: Mooney, N. Ablett 3; Wojcinski 2; Bartel, Mackie, Gardiner, G. Ablett, Chapman.

 

BEST
Bulldogs:
Johnson, Cross, Gilbee, Griffen, Eagleton.
Geelong: Enright, Ling, N. Ablett, Wojcinski.


MILESTONE
Gardiner (Geelong) 50 games.


DEBUT

Selwood (Geelong).


UMPIRES
Donlon, Margets, Meredith.


OUR VOTES  Johnson
(WB) 3, Cross (WB) 2, Gilbee (WB) 1.


BROWNLOW  Johnson
(WB) 3, Cooney* (WB) 2, Cross (WB) 1.


CROWD
42,626

 

@ratherbeatlunch

 

 

Check out other Round 1 reports HERE.

 

If you want a printed copy of the 2007 edition of the Footy Almanac, they can be purchased HERE.

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.

Comments

  1. It might have been a mediocre start to that season, JTH, but, sitting here today, I imagine your sense of anticipation as the 2007 season unfolds towards its September climax. And Theo made his appearance during that year, too.It sure was a ‘new beginning’ after all.

  2. Cats had a handy debutant that day.

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