The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 15 – Essendon v Western Bulldogs: Two faulty defences

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!



Essendon versus Western Bulldogs

7.15pm, Saturday, July 14

Telstra Dome, Melbourne



TWO TEAMS EQUALLY POISED, both looking to cement a finals future, both missing key players, both high scoring and aggressive, and both terrible defensively, only this season’s tragic triumvirate – the Blues, the Tigers and the Dees – being worse.


In the days of the five neither of these sides would have been considered serious finals contenders going into this round, the Bulldogs seventh on the ladder and the Dons eighth. But in these days of the final eight, and given the closeness (mediocrity?) of this year’s competition, they’re both potential finalists, even though their back lines combined couldn’t stop a rice pudding.


Paradoxically though, given both teams’ lack of goal-stopping ability, the Bulldogs full back, Brian Harris is currently favoured to win that club’s best and fairest, while the Dons’ best defender, Dustin Fletcher, is having a career-best season. So what gives?


Is it a lack of pressure in the forward line or midfield? Is it a lack of accountability, is it this, is it that – oh Christ, will someone turn off that bloody transistor radio, get the beers in, and umpire will you bounce the bloody ball.


For a visceral game a lot of footy takes place off the field and in the head of today’s statistics-driven, digitally-enhanced and epistemologically over-burdened punter. You wind up with pre-match overload. Sometimes you just have to stick the Sony in your pocket and let the sweet caresses of the mid-strength mistress soothe away the stress. You need to banish the Bearded Burbler and his ilk, and follow John Kennedy’s maxim, “Don’t think, do!” even if doing amounts to little more than scoffing a pie and hanging it on the opposition banner.


Once the game is under way, though, all that pre-game waffle seems to make sense. The Bulldogs have the early running thanks to the usual array of fast- running, slick handballers and the Dons’ inept defence. And then, just as swiftly, when they’re four goals up they completely turn off and The Dons slam on four quick goals, thanks to a complete lack of any sort of pressure from the narcoleptic Dogs, allowing the red and black to edge in front by a point. The second quarter belongs to the Dogs, though, aided by the Dons’ inability to kick straight, a possible result of Sheedy sending Mal Michael up forward. This ascendancy continues after half-time thanks to the running, tackling and goal-scoring of the blond twins, Adam Cooney and Jason Akermanis, although the Dons still refused to go away until late in the final quarter when they just ran out of legs. The Dogs blow them away.


Interestingly for the Dogs, Scott West is not sorely missed, repeat not sorely missed. The makeshift, yet effective midfield speaks more about the future of this club than its current state, featuring the names of Mitch Hahn, Daniel Giansiracusa, Matthew Boyd and Akermanis. Nor did they miss the power and old-man wisdom of Chris Grant. The guards, they are a changin’ down at Doggie land.


West’s place was consummately filled by His Baldness, Nathan Eagleton – one of those players for whom much was traded (i.e., Leon Cameron), of whom much was expected and from whom little was received (in the first few years anyway). Perhaps it was the receding hair, perhaps a vision of himself, Kevin Bartlett-like, comb-over akimbo streaming down the wing that was too much for the then 22-year-old. Whatever it was, ever since he adopted the Yul Brynner look a few years ago, he has grown in stature and now sports a set of knackers the size of rockmelons, and the fans love him. His bald nut popped up everywhere the ball was and his runs down the wing, lobbing long bombs into the forward line, were great to watch. They served Brad Johnson’s business-as-usual brilliance very well.


At the end of the round the Dogs remained seventh, while the Dons dropped to tenth, both still within reach of the top four and yet both still capable of finishing outside the eight. Once again both teams had let in around 100 points or more, and although the game was high scoring, this lack of a contest, lack of pressure on the man going forward, diluted the drama. Let’s hope that if these teams make the finals there are not too many rice puddings in the forward line, or it could be very messy behind the goals.



Essendon 4.5 5.10 9.12 14.14 (98)

Western Bulldogs 4.4 9.8 12.9 20.11 (131)



Western Bulldogs: Johnson 5, Cooney 3, Murphy, Eagleton 2, Gilbee, Akermanis, Everitt, Robbins, Harbrow, Ray, Higgins, Hahn.

Essendon: Lucas 4, Nash, Monfries 2, Ramanauskas, Lloyd, Michael, Stanton, Lovett-Murray, Lovett.



Western Bulldogs: Cooney, Akermanis, Eagleton, Giansiracusa, Morris.

Essendon: Watson, M. Johnson, J. Johnson, Nash, Monfries.



Camporeale (Essendon) 250 games.



Donlon, Allen, Wenn.



Cooney (WB) 3, Eagleton (WB) 2, Akermanis (WB) 1.



Cooney* (WB) 3, Johnson (WB) 2, Akermanis (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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