The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 19 – Melbourne v Western Bulldogs: A loss of Bulldog spirit

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!

 

 

Melbourne versus Western Bulldogs

7.10pm, Saturday, August 11

Telstra Dome, Melbourne

CHRISTOPHER RIORDAN

 

SOMETIMES IT’S GOOD TO GET BACK TO ADELAIDE and to sit on Mum and Dad’s couch in downtown Plympton. Have a beer and do nothing – except watch the footy.

 

Last week after the Western Bulldogs had limped to a draw with St Kilda, Rodney Eade said basically that, although to outsiders this season may seem disappointing, those within the club knew that many forward steps had been taken.

 

So much for the power of positive thinking.

 

My guess is that the response to this week’s embarrassing, insipid and critical loss to Melbourne will be far more traditional. I’ll kick it off: start with “spineless”, move towards “unacceptable” and colour in between. Although we Doggies fans have been conditioned for disappointment during what John Elliott calls our “tragic history”, nothing logically pointed towards this disaster.

 

Scribes had already marked in a win. Percentage was even a consideration. Melbourne seemed to have finally capitulated. They were looking ahead to a new coach, while the Bulldogs’ effort in Round 18 had at least featured a spirited will to win and evidence of a revival for this season.

 

But the Dogs had fallen in the last time these sides met, at this venue. It was Brad Johnson who inspired them and he wasn’t playing this night.

 

The omens weren’t that good. Richmond’s incredible performance to beat the Pies on Friday night had unnervingly hinted at an upset weekend, but the respective motives for success were simply too far apart to anticipate a contest, as the paltry attendance seemed to confirm.

 

To be frank, I would’ve preferred that the other game – Sydney versus St Kilda – was on free-to-air but at least I was able to watch the battle live – a luxury Adelaide viewers get which has just not happened in the Melbourne heartland. The downside to a 6.30pm start is no Before the Game, which I think has become a Saturday staple. By the time Melbourne viewers were watching, Jeff White had ducked his 250 banner and the Western Bulldogs appeared in their away strip. Very Central District.

 

Melbourne signalled their intentions from the start, tackling ferociously, and getting numbers to contests. The Bulldogs didn’t handle this well. They wilted. Jordan McMahon continued his frustrating habit of either giving away frees or missing targets. Chris Grant went off early, injured, not to return. His absence was telling. Promising tall defenders Tom Williams and Andrejs Everitt sorely need his experienced guidance for their development. Ben Holland was able to kick four goals in a dominant forward display.

 

At the other end, however, the Dogs had no forward line. Too often they were reduced to the cringing and demeaning strategy of chipping the ball around and waiting for something – inevitably a turnover – to occur. Robert Murphy and Shaun Higgins kept at it, but the signs were there early that the Tricolours were in strife as they showed about as much fight as Nikolay Davydenko. The only Bulldog who may have spotted some hope was Chris Bond, their present assistant. He is in the middle of applying for the coaching job at Melbourne.

 

He would have been heartened by the Demons’ endeavour, but their skills were poor. David Neitz was stitched up again by Brian Harris and I can’t see Robbo as a long-term prospect. Aaron Davey was dangerous and persistent all night, but perhaps their brightest forward prospect is (my favourite nickname) ‘Juice’ Newton. Nathan Brown, Travis Johnstone, Paul Wheatley and Chunky Jones all played significant roles in assisting big White to his milestone triumph, but it seemed as much a story of Bulldog ineptitude as Demon dominance.

 

At least we didn’t get to the spectre of Round 21, 2005, when Jeff White dramatically stole our game and our season. But then there were dreams for the future. The fear now is that Hawthorn and Brisbane, to name two, have overtaken the Bulldogs in the Potential Stakes and even Carlton might have better prospects. Big calls are going to have to be made at the Whitten Oval this summer.

 

But this week, Rodney Eade should flog them on the track. That’s exactly what they deserve.

 

 

Melbourne  5.2 10.7 16.11 19.15 (129)

Western Bulldogs  4.4 5.9 7.13 12.15 (87)

 

GOALS

Melbourne: Holland 4, Robertson, Davey 3, Dunn, Pickett 2, Jones, Sylvia, Green, Newton, Wheatley.

Bulldogs: Higgins 5, Murphy 3, Ray, Eagleton, Hargrave, Tiller.

 

BEST

Melbourne: Holland, Jones, White, Johnstone, Green.

Bulldogs: Murphy, Higgins, Harris.

 

MILESTONES

White (Melbourne) 250 games, Sylvia (Melbourne) 50 games.

 

DEBUT

Bode (Melbourne).

 

UMPIRES

McBurney, M. Nicholls, Kamolins.

 

OUR VOTES

Holland (M) 3, Jones (M) 2, White (M) 1.

 

BROWNLOW

Jones (M) 3, Holland* (M) 2, Green (M) 1.

 

CROWD

18,946

 

 

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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