The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 21 – Western Bulldogs v Hawthorn: Inaccurate Buddy and hot Hodgey

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 Hawthorn

1.10pm, Sunday, August 26

Telstra Dome, Melbourne

DAVID GOODWIN

 

IN SINGAPORE, WATCHING FOOTY IS A TELEVISION EVENT. Australia Network pumps five games into the island each weekend. Which is just as well, because spectator sport is virtually unknown in a place where, among the locals, the office water cooler talk is limited to restaurants and shopping.

 

On Saturdays and Sundays we get a live broadcast starting late morning. So on this particular sultry Sunday morning, after a glorious sleep-in, I stumble to the big screen in my condo. Just in time, Tom, my 14-year-old, arrives at the front door after a big Saturday night spent doing what expat kids do up here – laps of Orchard Road, followed by an English Premier League-fuelled sleepover at a mate’s place. But he’s back home now – because our team, the Hawks, are about to do battle with the Dogs. And yet again we have a point to prove, after the last-minute learning experience debacle against Port a week ago.

 

This is to become the day of Buddy’s blow-out. Lance Franklin, the budding human highlights reel, will kick 2.11 – the seventh most inaccurate assault on goal in 111 years of VFL/AFL history.

 

At quarter-time, the boot of this precocious, over-sized, hyper-assured 20-year-old has yielded six behinds – out of Hawthorn’s score of 1.7 – along with nine possessions. Perversely, he seems to grow in confidence with each miss. Lesser mortals in the crowd (and in our lounge room) are tearing hair out. The Hawks have dominated in general play and repeatedly drive into attack, but the delivery to the front half has been erratic and our forwards are still learning how to hold the ball in. The Bulldogs, clean of foot, have rebounded expertly and converted most of their opportunities. Shades of Round 5. They’ve scored 5.3.

 

In the second quarter, our ship steadies. Hawthorn’s continuing dominance around the ground closes the gap. At the half, the Bulldogs lead 8.3 (51) to 6.9 (45), but the Hawks are ahead 11-3 in centre clearances and 32-19 in inside fifties.

 

Time to reflect on some of the verbal gems we’ve been served up by the FoxSports team of Dwayne Russell, Danny Frawley and David Parkin. When you’re living in Melbourne, overdosed on footy talk and immersed in Australiana, TV commentary can be a real irritant. But when you’re marooned offshore, denied regular access to it, the flagrant use of the Aussie vernacular is a joy.

 

Parkin’s been admonished for betraying his brown and gold allegiance: “Brian Harris must think it’s Christmas every time he plays Hawthorn; we just keep kicking it to him”. (But as a premiership captain and coach for the club, he’s been excused.) A moment of Campbell Brown bravery entering a pack elicits from Russell the philosophy of Darrel Baldock: “Never put your head where your backside can fit”. (This has left my boy Tom perplexed and just a little frightened.)

 

In the third quarter the Hawks put on a master class in the art of the centre break. Feeding off ruck dominance, Mitchell and Sewell rack up possessions. The Western District kids, Lewis and Hodge, begin to re-live the kind of command they must have enjoyed as juniors. Hodge, in particular, conducts a skills tutorial of his own: he collects 15 touches for the quarter and kicks four goals.

 

By three-quarter time the game is won and all eyes are on Rodney Eade, who does not disappoint. Rocket delivers an epic, blistering spray to the westerners. Hopefully, it’s left him feeling better. It certainly worked for Parkin, whose jugular has begun to pulsate empathically and he coos with approval. But to no avail.

 

In the final stanza the floodgates open and the Hawks pile on 9.5 to one point, to post an 84-point thrashing. Round 12 against Carlton notwithstanding, it’s been a decade and a half since we displayed the knack of putting a team to the sword like this. My mind has flashbacks to blissful, delirious afternoons at Waverley with Jarman, Allan and Pritchard kicking long to Dunstallll. Next season, surely, we will relive those days, with Buddyyyy.

 

Centre clearances finish up 24-8; inside 50s 71-38. Leading possession winners: Sewell 39, Mitchell 38, Hodge 33. Our running midfielders have found acres of space that no one knew existed at Telstra Dome and our forwards have clicked in the second half. Brown has been tremendous – he gives the impression he wants to play more than anyone else on the paddock.

 

The match highlight was a cameo from Mitchell – diving full length at the top of the centre square to retrieve a misdirected pass, snaring a slips catch and in the same motion, while prone, handballing to a runner streaking past to create a goal.

 

Now the Hawks are assured of a place in the finals. Tonight we’ll be in the top four. So the victory gives rise to premature fantasies of finals glory. We spend the late afternoon phoning airlines, exploring September flight options to Australia. Offshore, but optimistic.

 

 

Western Bulldogs  5.3 8.3 10.6 10.7 (67)

Hawthorn  1.7 6.9 13.14 22.19 (151)

 

GOALS

Hawthorn: Hodge 6, Lewis 4, Roughead, Dixon 3, Franklin 2, Campbell, Birchall, Brown, Young.

Bulldogs: Gilbee 3, Darcy 2, Giansiracusa, Ray, Skipper, Cooney, Akermanis.

 

BEST

Hawthorn: Hodge, Sewell, Mitchell, Lewis, Bateman, Young, Brown, Campbell, Franklin.

Bulldogs: West, Harris, Skipper, Akermanis.

 

MILESTONE

Dixon (Hawthorn) 200 games.

 

UMPIRES

Grun, Margetts, Sully.

 

OUR VOTES

Hodge (H) 3, Sewell (H) 2, Mitchell (H) 1.

 

BROWNLOW

Hodge (H) 3, Sewell (H) 2, Mitchell (H) 1.

 

CROWD

32,734

 

 

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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