The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 7 – Western Bulldogs v Melbourne: Johnson v Johnstone

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 Melbourne
2.10pm, Sunday May 13
Telstra Dome, Melbourne


THE STATUS OF MOTHERS DAY FOOTY IS UNAMBIGUOUS: no club wants it. Rather than beat a shredded drum, the AFL opted not to risk a glamour fixture; instead they pitted the Western Bulldogs against Melbourne at the Dome.


The Barkly Street bean-counters were then appeased with a home game against Collingwood in the next round.


On this day, it was a modest crowd that watched these decidedly non-traditional rivals. A thrilling finish was the spectators’ reward, especially when compared with the mother-in-laws boring afternoon tea, as one barfly noted.


I remember years ago when the Coodabeens referred to a clash between these teams as Georges versus Forges! Apart from premiership droughts, the clubs share no common ground, although the Demons did inflict Tony Campbell and Allen Jakovich on my Bulldogs.


For this match, I was invited to the Medallion Club. Arriving late after a victory by the Flemington Juniors Under 12 team, I settled in the front row on Level 2, perched over the interchange bench, and equipped with a personal television. It certainly was an unfamiliar football environment, and the temptation was to linger on the balcony behind the bar and bask in the sun while taking in the Docklands views. From there, youre oblivious to a match going on just 50 metres or so away. Tony, Mick and Bryn were great company, traditional footy supporters, and added necessary substance to the surrounding style.


Melbourne sneaked out to a 12-point lead at quarter-time thanks to a sensational bomb from Colin Sylvia right on the siren. Sylvia played as a set forward with Adem Yze, while David Neitz appeared to be dragging Brian Harris away from the goalsquare. The Melbourne players were difficult to recognise in their alternative strip, as was the cheer squad in its bright red away shirts.


In the second quarter, the umpires made some critical calls and the Doggies took their chances. It was unfortunate that the umps influenced so much of the game. Is it their desperate need to be noticed and Scott McLaren certainly was noticed by those around me—or do the players and coaches act so close to the edge of fair play that calls must be made? Whatever, free kicks led to an inordinate proportion of goals.


Melbourne, though, must look in the mirror. They left the middle of the ground largely unattended, allowing the fleet-footed Pups to bolt through the corridor. Neitz missed one that he should have kicked, before the Bullies raced the ball back up the other end for a goal. Then Jeff White kicked out on the full from a set shot and the crowd moaned. Conditions, after all, were perfect.


Rodney Eade was clicking the turnstiles on his interchange bench, no doubt trying to counter the Perth factor the Dogs had played the Eagles at Subiaco the previous round. Mitch Hahns hard body and tackling in the forward line added grunt to the side, but Luke Darcy and Jason Akermanis still looked woefully out of touch. Peter Street used his height at ball-ups, but was a liability around the ground.


The Dees kicked three quick goals to open the second half and appeared to gain the momentum, but the Western Bulldogs steadied later in the quarter to go into the last break with a 15-point buffer. For three-quarters it had been like a cycling race, with threats of breakaways being scuppered.


When, almost nine minutes into the final stanza, Travis Johnstone tapped, danced, balanced and kicked a goal, Melbourne were only three points down. Matthew Boyd had worn Johnstone all day, but was never able to quell his impact. Johnstones willingness to get inside and work hard was important to the Dees.


A minute later Aaron Davey snapped truly and the Demons had the lead. This, it would seem, was poetic justice after last week when Daveys disallowed effort cost the Dees the game against Port Adelaide. But then David Neitz shoved his opponent and conceded a midfield free that led to a goal. The captain was benched just when leadership was needed. He slumped on to the pine for 10 minutes before returning to take a mark and goal to put his team back in front as time-on began. Nathan Eagleton and then Sylvia, from a brave pack mark, exchanged goals as a frenetic final quarter neared its climax.


Any moment could turn the game and, pleasingly, the crowd lifted to the occasion. Deliberate, deliberate, deliberate, deliberate,screeched a stroke-in-waiting behind me. Who brought the parrot?parried my neighbour Mick.


In the 29th minute, Daniel Cross uncharacteristically kicked the ball after spotting a surging Brad Johnson. The proud captain didnt let his teammates down. Still, the match was not yet won, until a behind from Aka, whose final quarter was outstanding, made it a six-point margin. The Demons were pushing for a draw. The Dogs flooded back.


The analysts can try to explain the victory, but the simple truth is that the Western Bulldogs had the good fortune to be in front at the right stage of a see-sawing last quarter. And though the Dogs had earned their win, Melbourne, too, deserved something from their endeavours. Incredibly, at 0-7, the Demons were not wooden spoon favourites. The Dogs, 4-3, were still marginal finalists.



WESTERN BULLDOGS  4.1  10.5  12.12  16.16 (112)

MELBOURNE                    6.1   7.6    10.9   16.10 (106)


Bulldogs: Johnson 4; Hahn, Higgins 2; Cross, Gilbee, Eagleton, Giansiracusa, Darcy, Cooney, Akermanis, Hargrave.
Melbourne: Sylvia, Davey 3; Yze, Green 2; Bate, Neitz, Dunn, Johnstone, Bell, White.

Bulldogs: Cross, Johnson, Eagleton, Gilbee, Harris.
Melbourne: Johnstone, Sylvia, Bruce, Davey, Bate, Godfrey.

Eagleton (Bulldogs) 200 games; Street (Bulldogs) 50 games at current club.  

McLaren, Sully, Head.  

Cross (WB) 3, Johnstone (M) 2, Johnson (WB) 1.

(WB) 3, Davey* (M) 2, Cross (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.



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