The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 12 – Western Bulldogs v Fremantle: Outlasting the Dockers up north

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 Follow the season!



Western Bulldogs versus Fremantle

7.10pm, Saturday, June 16

TIO Oval, Darwin



TONIGHT WAS MY FIRST EVER FOX FOOTY NIGHT. It took some organising. The critical clash, a classic eight-pointer according to scribes, was omitted from free-to-air fixtures. Initiative was required. Solution: No. 96 (three doors down) has Foxtel, a NSW male, a USA female, two young sons and an unexploited need for a movie/dinner experience.


Boxes ticked!


Finding Nemo and Cock-a-Doodle Hoooo made for a tough pre-match, but the kids were down in time for me to see the end of the replay of the classic 1970 Grand Final – Peter McKenna did look unlucky not to get a free-kick just before Jezza’s sealer – and to feel confident with the remote… Cowboys v Storm… England v Windies… Yankees v Mets… Globe Derby.


How footy-watching has changed. I flipped the top off a can and by sound and taste I was back 15 years. Standing on gravel at the Whitten Oval’s Barkly Street end, freezing in the wind, barracking with 12,000 others as Footscray slogged away in the mud. And a little No. 39 scrapped his way into our hearts. The classic immigrant story: a Brunswick Italian, rejected by North Melbourne – Libba became synonymous with the footy club.


Fremantle F.C. did not yet exist.


Snap back to this night and Brad Johnson presented guernsey No. 39 to a member of the new breed. Malcolm Lynch, a Tiwi Islander recruited via St Ignatius’ College in Riverview, Sydney, blessed with blinding speed and skills, kitted up for his debut in the predominantly white strip worn for this home game in steamy Darwin! Viewers were left in no doubt of the conditions, as the ridiculously besuited-and-tied presenters gave constant temperature and humidity updates, leaving themselves barely any time to mention Luke McPharlin’s withdrawal from the Dockers’ team. This was not a carnival crowd, but a full house of serious footy spectators, whose support for the Dogs was loud and possibly decisive.


Farren Ray and Brad Johnson had the Bulldogs 12 points in front after two minutes, triggering four Fremantle replies in a hectic five minutes before Rocket Eade threw a player back in the hole. A remarkable opening indeed.


Marrara is a beautiful, big, Subi-type ground and the fast-flowing footy was clearly going to take its toll. The Fox Footy analysis, I have to say, was pretty good and the absence of ads certainly made the game easier to follow.


Chris Tarrant’s screamer and goal with 90 seconds left in the first quarter capped off an exhilarating term. Freo suffered a setback when Matthew Carr was carried off early in the second quarter, but their greatest problem was the Bulldogs’ skipper. It was like a Gilchrist onlslaught: 6, 6, 6. Johnno, mopping up across half-back. Johnno zipping through the midfield. Johnno presenting and scoring up forward. He was clearly the best player. Fremantle’s answer was the ageless Peter Bell, who ferreted, supported and willed his teammates to greater efforts.


The Dockers cleared the ball too easily from defence and were better at hitting their targets. Fortunately, those targets, for much of the night, missed that important one over the goal ump’s hat. The Dockers failed to hurt the Dogs. Too often their own forays faltered about 20 metres short of the goal-line.


Robert Murphy rediscovered his poise and class and Luke Darcy found some form. Tom Williams, too, offered glimpses of a taller future. Aker’s touches were usually picked up when he was indulging in high tens, at which he’s the master.


Fremantle’s five-point half-time lead came under serious threat in the third quarter, although the Dogs’ indiscriminate surges were repelled too easily. It’s hard to know on television what sort of defensive pressure is being applied inside the forward line, but my guess was that Rocket would have let them know.


Despite the hot conditions, the game remained fast, desperate and close – fatigue was always going to be a factor. The commentators paid too little attention to the bench. We wanted to know which players had fresh legs. I suspected that Freo had been at least one player – Carr – down, and that Murphy’s hammy injury was now placing a similar stress on the Doggies’ resources.


At three-quarter time, the Bulldogs held a one-point lead, despite Jordan McMahon’s late, lazy shocker of a pass that gave Matthew Pavlich his third goal for the quarter. Strangely, however, for a Doggies’ supporter I felt comfortable about a win early in the final quarter when Johnson fed Scott West for a goal. The Bulldogs were getting the centre clearances, Brian Harris was marking everything in defence, and the players seemed to have more run. Dean Solomon got Freo back to within eight points with 12 minutes left, but they couldn’t bridge that gap.


A Borat-type streaker gave the boys a brief breather and Aker iced the cake with two late goals. The Bulldogs could still hope for September.


Fremantle must have been disappointed. They had great expectations this year and once again reach the break in crisis mode. Connolly has found the coach’s job a bit like batting against the ferocious West Indies in their heyday – you were never really in! Only another remarkable run home can save Connolly and his under-performers.


My baby-sitting duties were over. In fact, the home-owners had returned a little early but I wasn’t giving up the couch until the song was sung.




Western Bulldogs  5.3 10.5 15.6 22.9 (141)

Fremantle  7.4 10.10 13.17 16.19 (115)



Western Bulldogs: Johnson 5, Murphy, West, Akermanis, Boyd, Hahn, Darcy 2, Ray, Cooney, Higgins, Giansiracusa, Harbrow.

Fremantle: Pavlich 3, Tarrant, Solomon, Headland 2, Sandilands, Mundy, Bell, Warnock, Black, Walker, Dodd.



Western Bulldogs: Johnson, Harris, Boyd, Cooney.

Fremantle: Bell, Pavlich, Hasleby, Black.



Walker (Fremantle) 150 games.



Lynch (Bulldogs).



McLaren, Meredith, Jeffery.



Johnson (WB) 3, Bell (F) 2, Harris (WB) 1.



Johnson (WB) 3, Bell (F) 2, Boyd (WB) 1.






For more Round by Round reports of the 2007 season click HERE


Printed copies of The Footy Almanac 2007 can be purchased here.


2007 Footy Almanac

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