The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 17 – Western Bulldogs v West Coast: The underperforming Bulldogs of old

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 versus West Coast

7.40pm, Friday, July 27

Telstra Dome, Melbourne

by JOHN WELDON

 

IT USED TO BE A DREAM WATCHING FOOTSCRAY. You’d drift along to the Western Oval, anchor yourself in your usual spot on the terrace, suck a few VBs, down a pie or two and have a laugh. You applauded good kicks, prodigious handballs, honourable defeats and the odd victory, and you went home happy. It was more of a social occasion than the battle to the death that is life with the Western Bulldogs. You’d acknowledge the regulars, who always stood next to you, but to whom you never spoke, with a nod, a raise of the can and a wry smile as the rain started to fall again. There was an unarticulated community ethos along the lines of: as long as we’re all here, and we’re in this together, then we’re all right. It wasn’t about winning or losing; it was just about being able to watch the boys. Existence was enough; prosperity and ambition were left to the bigger clubs. It was an attitude that drove Terry Wallace mad when he took over as coach.

 

In the documentary Year of the Dogs, Wallace famously threatened to “spew up” if he saw one more Footscray team applauded from the field just for getting close. He worked desperately to instil a winning attitude at the club, and as Footscray ended and the Western Bulldogs began, it worked. The team began to win often and well, ambitions were born, dreams were dared, winning started to matter, and the game as a social occasion was over.

 

It wasn’t all his fault though. No one is allowed to just be in modern football. All 16 teams are expected to make the finals and the notion that there have to be eight losers each week is anathema to supporters and the AFL alike: it’s bad for membership, bad for the sponsors, and it’s got to be stopped. Winning is a narcotic, and we’re all hooked. That’s why this defeat at the hands of the Eagles hurt so much. We’re still too inexperienced at this winning game to cope: we love the massive highs it brings but the crushing lows are still too much to handle.

 

For 10 years now, since the first of two terrible Preliminary Final losses to Adelaide in 1997, Bulldogs fans have had their hopes raised and dashed. We’ve been led to believe time and time again that this year is our year, only to fall in a heap when it really counted.

 

The awful thing is that Footscray fans of 10 years ago would have loved this season. We would have relished the emergence of Shaun Higgins and the consolidation of Matthew Boyd, revelled in the continued brilliance of Brad Johnson, and basked in the setting sun-like glow of true champions Chris Grant and Scott West.

 

Once upon a time we would have cheered Andrejs Everitt and his marvellous first quarter against the Eagles. Ten touches, fearless and graceful in motion, he moves through the game with the confidence of someone much older (bold prediction: he will prove to be a better player than Spida). We would have savoured every moment of Stephen Tiller’s two-goal debut – whatever the result.

 

Now, though, after these defeats, and with an injury list the length of your arm, we’re restless and dissatisfied. Rocket wasn’t, though. He talked up the game, talked up the prospects of players returning from injury, highlighted the fact that we had a huge number of young and first-year players out on the park, obliquely admitting that, despite the pre-season hype, perhaps this wouldn’t be our year after all.

 

Having seen the Cats blow the Doggies off the ball and then outrun them, the Eagles saw no reason to do anything different. They, too, made the Bulldogs look like spectators, often sweeping the ball from one end of the ground to the other without giving their opposition a sniff. If you want a detailed telling of the story of this game, then see last week’s review and swap the word Eagles for Cats. Otherwise, like Bulldogs fans everywhere, roll up your scarf, put your beanie away and plan for next year.

 

The first half was played to the tune of Bulldogs fans grumbling and whining, but by midway through the second quarter most had tuned the football out, and for a brief period the game became a social event again. We laughed and we reminisced and with the result already a foregone conclusion, it was enough just to see our boys run around and to boo Ben Cousins. Talk turned to things other than football: the kids and the wife were discussed, as were the relative merits of pies at the ’G and the Dome, and had anyone ever had a pie interstate? And what about the pies down at Geelong – aren’t they Mrs Mac’s? And is it true that a bloke once found a finger in his pie?

 

It was just like old times, and it was ripper, and in the end we even stopped the boos, and does anyone know what the score was?

 

 

West Coast    4.4 11.9 15.11 24.14 (158)

Western Bulldogs    2.5 4.7 6.12 9.17 (71)

 

GOALS

West Coast: Lynch 5, Staker 4, Le Cras 3, Judd, Hansen, Embley 2, Kerr, Seaby, Cousins, Priddis, Hurn, Hunter.

Bulldogs: Tiller 2, Ray, Eagleton, Giansiracusa, Akermanis, Hargrave, Skipper, Wight.

 

BEST

West Coast: Kerr, Judd, Lynch, Cox, Cousins, Braun.

Bulldogs: Johnson, Hargrave, Boyd, Skipper, Ray, Everitt.

 

DEBUTANTS

Hill, Tiller (Bulldogs), Schofield (West Coast).

 

UMPIRES

McBurney, Woodcock, Jeffery.

 

OUR VOTES

Kerr (WC) 3, Judd (WC) 2, Cousins (WC) 1.

 

BROWNLOW

Kerr* (WC) 3, Cousins (WC) 2, Lynch (WC) 1.

 

CROWD

30,900

 

 

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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