Arise ye workers from ye slumbers! How the Bulldogs will make history

Giovanni Torre Columnist

By Giovanni Torre, Giovanni Torre is a Roar Expert

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123 Have your say

    Sydney are flat track bullies. The Bulldogs are the real deal. (Click to Tweet)

    Three weeks ago Sydney failed to get one of their renowned fast starts. They panicked and then disintegrated under the pressure Western Sydney applied.

    A similar performance was put up by the Swans earlier this season against the Giants, and also against Hawthorn and anyone else the Swans weren’t able to put away early.

    The two top four winners of the first week, Geelong and GWS, were scratchy and rusty in the opening 25 minutes of their preliminary finals. While Sydney capitalised with seven goals, the Bulldogs let GWS off the hook – going forward a remarkable 16 times in that time period but managing only two goals, and missed two excruciatingly easy shots in the first quarter.

    Both GWS and Geelong matched their opponents from quarter time on. The difference was the Cats were a mile behind. Turns out playing one game in four weeks isn’t ideal preparation for a preliminary final, but we can thank the cynicism of the Fremantle Dockers and North Melbourne in seasons past for this particular innovation that no one asked for, nor wanted. (Click to Tweet)

    A quick word on the vanquished.

    Greater Western Sydney are a strong chance for next season’s flag. Make no mistake, they can play.

    There is no missing piece in the GWS puzzle and their younger players will only get better. This defeat will put a hitherto unknown hunger into the team that will not rest until a silver cup resides in a pristine minimalist Scandinavian cabinet at Spotless Stadium.

    Geelong aren’t done. Jimmy Bartel and even Corey Enright may go, but Nakia Cockatoo, Darcy Lang, Jed Bews and Tom Ruggles are pounding on the door to come in. Cory Gregson and Jackson Thurlow will return. Scott Selwood will play a full season.

    Sam Menegola will improve. Patrick Dangerfield already plays like a man possessed – and his demons will grow in power after this disappointment. He will be like Joachim Murat’s cavalry charge at Eylau – a tidal wave that will shake the earth under the feet of his enemies.

    Clay Smith Western Bulldogs AFL Final 2016 tall

    Back to the main event…

    The upside of the bye was the Bulldogs were able to bring back some stars and freshen up, with their extraordinary win against West Coast at Subiaco the result. That outcome – against a team that seemed to have hit devastating form – gave the Dogs the self-belief to roll Hawthorn and then march into western Sydney like Caesar at Bibracte.

    Lin Jong’s 29 touches in Footscray’s VFL Premiership victory recommend him highly for a return to the main stage, and he could do a Steven King, with a VFL and AFL premiership medal in the same season.

    The Swans are a good team, a very, very good team, but not as good as their easy wins against Adelaide and Geelong suggest. Sydney’s win against Adelaide was similar to its win against Geelong. The Crows, like the Cats, played far below their best – especially early. And like the Cats they were wasteful when they did enjoy belated periods of dominance.

    As the song says, Bulldogs fight. This season the Dogs had to overcome a shocking injury run, and then in the finals faced huge tests – West Coast in Perth, the reigning triple premiers coming off a stinging loss, and the Giants at their toy stadium.

    Every time they have stood up and overcome the odds. This is a club that understands struggle, that understands suffering. This is a club that understands community, and gladly belongs – heart and soul – to its supporters. This is a club that remembers ’89.

    There will be no easy start for Sydney on Saturday. From the first second there will be no quarter given by the Dogs, who play like they are prepared to die in a ditch for Luke Beveridge.

    The Bulldogs are blessed with speed, intensity, marking power, exquisite skills – and hearts like 22 Phar Laps. Not one of that 22 will play a millimetre below his best.

    This is it, 62 years in the making – here come the Dogs.

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    The Crowd Says (123)

    • September 26th 2016 @ 7:12am
      I hate pies said | September 26th 2016 @ 7:12am | ! Report

      Great article, I’m pumped already!!…it’s going to be a long week.

    • September 26th 2016 @ 7:14am
      Swampy said | September 26th 2016 @ 7:14am | ! Report

      The AFL probably imagined GWS in a GF would be a good thing for footy.

      But they couldn’t have dreamed up just how the Doggies made their way to the GF – regardless of the result they’ve probably accidentally shored up footy in Melbourne’s west for the next decade.

      A GF of good vs evil, rich vs poor, dyed in the wool fans vs plastic only follow if we’re winning fans… after 4 years of the Essendon saga something finally has grabbed me back into footy. A classic awaits.

      • September 26th 2016 @ 7:36am
        I hate pies said | September 26th 2016 @ 7:36am | ! Report

        It’s been good vs evil and rich vs poor for the past 3 weeks for the dogs!

        This has to be great for their support and membership; apparently Saturday’s game was the second most watched game outside a grand final of all time. There’s only one place you can get better advertising than that, and we’re there this weekend!

      • September 26th 2016 @ 10:28am
        GoSwans said | September 26th 2016 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        Bulldogs’ marketing people stole that rich vs poor thing from the Giants – who have been using it for the last five years. Couldn’t they come up with something a bit more original.

        • September 26th 2016 @ 10:37am
          Griffo said | September 26th 2016 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          Five years?! The bulldogs have been the poor side for 91 years against other relatively more affluent sides, and since when were the Giants poor?

        • September 26th 2016 @ 11:32am
          Bobbo7 said | September 26th 2016 @ 11:32am | ! Report

          The Giants don’t look poor. They look like a team built in an expensive laboratory.

          • September 26th 2016 @ 12:20pm
            GoSwans said | September 26th 2016 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

            Western Sydney battlers vs Eastern Suburbs / North Shore Chardonnay sippers.

            • September 26th 2016 @ 12:52pm
              Arky said | September 26th 2016 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

              But GWS the team doesn’t have the image of Western Sydney the place, because the enduring image of GWS the team is the silver platter with which they were handed a place in the AFL, oodles of draft picks and oodles of money. They didn’t have to battle for it at all. While Gold Coast has demonstrated that being handed every advantage doesn’t make you immune from squandering it all, it reminds me of the great American phrase “being born on third base but acting like you got there by hitting a triple” used for people who inherit lots of money and then act like they got there by working harder than regular people (like Donald Trump, or Gina Rinehart).

              The Dogs have nearly gone bust. Until this year, the best they’ve done in over 50 years was make back-to-back prelims (I know that because we North fans responded to Doggie fan taunts about our “failure” the last couple of seasons by noting it was equal to the very best run their club had achieved since 1961). They didn’t get handed anything to make it this far. And if this is a season without any dominant team, where all contenders were vulnerable to losing on the wrong day, and the Dogs have been perhaps a bit fortunate in that regard- well, SOMEONE has to win.

              • Roar Guru

                September 26th 2016 @ 1:04pm
                Paul D said | September 26th 2016 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

                Yeah, I think the only people who wouldn’t be cheering the dogs on are fans from other perpetually struggling Melbourne clubs these days.

                My personal view is that the number of teams based in Melbourne will shrink by 1 or 2 over the long term. And the thing is, it won’t be the interstate clubs driving this rationalisation and consolidation. The Victorian based clubs will turn on their own. Once the academies and zone selections etc have a decade or two to get established, increasingly the interstate sides will draw players from their home states. And as certain Victorian clubs premiership drought stretches on and on interminably they will begin to turn on the weakest club in Victoria – and they will stay their presence dissipates the available, robs draft picks from other struggling Victorian clubs etc.

                That’s my theory – a mix of market economics and a guess as to the long-term trend of the AFL. A few years ago the Dogs were probably one of the lowest hanging fruit. But now I’d say they’re well ahead of North and the Saints for starters, and are well placed to cement their relevance and importance to the club with a period of sustained success over the next few years.

              • September 26th 2016 @ 1:23pm
                mattyb said | September 26th 2016 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

                Paul,this is pretty much my theory also. I find it worrying that Victorian supporters have forgotten why we moved to a national comp in the first place. Sure it probably would have happened anyway but there is no getting past the fact the VFL went broke. Sometimes if you ignore history you often repeat the same mistakes. The Victorian centric nature of the competition won’t continue. The AFL needs to be kind to the Victorian clubs but it also needs to grow and it will, and is, but at this stage in very small steps. As a Footscray supporter I’m more inclined to go with the national clubs as that is where the future lies. The born to rule clubs are showing signs they struggle to move out of the past for various reasons and as they continue to fail to properly catch up they will certainly turn and the smaller Victorian clubs will be their target. Times have changed somewhat and things can also change quickly so the direction the league goes could still have some surprising twists and turns in the not to distant future. Another thing that needs to be remembered is when the VFL went broke it wasn’t just the small clubs,it was pretty much all the clubs.

              • September 26th 2016 @ 2:45pm
                andyl12 said | September 26th 2016 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

                MattyB, contrary to what you’ve said in past posts, just because somebody supports a national competition doesn’t mean they have to barrack for Sydney and GWS in every game they play. Nobody in Victoria wants it to be the VFL again, they just want premierships to be earned like Hawthorn’s were (and like the Bulldogs’ will be should they win it this Saturday).

      • September 26th 2016 @ 6:13pm
        Kurt said | September 26th 2016 @ 6:13pm | ! Report

        It’s a funny good of good V evil battle when the good guys only exist because of cross-subsidies from the bad guys. Mind you the symbiosis between good and evil has consumed many a theologian, so perhaps the analogy works after all.

    • September 26th 2016 @ 7:28am
      Matthew H said | September 26th 2016 @ 7:28am | ! Report

      I am on the Doggies, but for no reason than they are a good team and have been in great games for the last couple of years. It’s interesting that this year with the pre-finals bye a team gets into the GF from 7th. It seems like the Doggies were maybe better than 7th but couldn’t get it done without some key outs. To have a bye and come into the first final in better shape was good for them and rather than any heart or whatever is probably what got them over the line a few times. Liberatore and Boyd who both had 5 clearances in the last game when they really needed to is evidence of that. Without the bye week would the Doggies have been done in the elimination final in week 1? We’ll never know, but maybe the bye does allow teams struggling with injuries to freshen up and I guess robustness becomes a little less important.

      • September 26th 2016 @ 10:22am
        GoSwans said | September 26th 2016 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        Definitely better than 7th. Simple explanation – they lost a couple of games due to injuries (and one to #freekickhawthorn).

        • September 26th 2016 @ 10:44am
          Trev said | September 26th 2016 @ 10:44am | ! Report

          Love the comment free kick Hawthorn. Bulldogs Ranked no 1 for free kicks for and against. Bulldogs Ranked no 1 for free kicks for and against this finals campaign, A disgraceful 58 for and 39 against and have not WON A TACKLE count. Bulldogs have been favoured all throughout the finals, what team finished 7th on the ladder but gets the privilege of getting 8 day breaks in between games. It’s been a disgraceful ambition by the AFL to handball them into a Grandfinal.

          • September 26th 2016 @ 11:53am
            I hate pies said | September 26th 2016 @ 11:53am | ! Report

            More free kicks and haven’t won a tackle count – suggests to me that they’re first to the ball

            • September 26th 2016 @ 9:36pm
              Bruce said | September 26th 2016 @ 9:36pm | ! Report


          • September 26th 2016 @ 12:25pm
            GoSwans said | September 26th 2016 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

            I believe they won the free kick count in more games this year than any other team and the Swans second lowest so definitely expect something like a 21 to 10 free kick count like the 2012 Grand Final.

            My #freekickhawthorn was actually a bit of joke – Bulldogs won the free kick count that day!

        • September 26th 2016 @ 11:16am
          Griffo said | September 26th 2016 @ 11:16am | ! Report

          In addition they won 15 games this year which usually puts you higher on the ladder. 2012, 2013 and 2015 5th place had 15 wins. In 2014 5th place had 14 wins but 4th had 16 wins. If you go back to 2003 Brisbane finished the home and away season 3rd with 14 wins and a draw, and they won the premiership that year. I think now with the 18 team comp you won’t be able to finish that high with so few wins but definitely the dogs finished unusually low for the number of wins they had.

      • September 26th 2016 @ 12:56pm
        Arky said | September 26th 2016 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

        I think it’s just a year where no team is reliably dominant. The Dogs were probably better than 7th but I think the “injuries” thing is overstated with them, their injuries were no worse than most clubs dealt with. If you re-ran the Finals again you could get completely different outcomes, even in the Geelong-Sydney game. All the teams this year had problems and inconsistency. The Dogs won their games when it counted, and really that’s what matters.

    • Columnist

      September 26th 2016 @ 7:36am
      Ronan O'Connell said | September 26th 2016 @ 7:36am | ! Report

      Great piece GT, would be a brilliant story if the Doggies can get up.

    • September 26th 2016 @ 7:57am
      Pumping Dougie said | September 26th 2016 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      I still can’t believe it … ?

      • September 26th 2016 @ 11:24am
        mattyb said | September 26th 2016 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        You should have listened to me before the season started Dougie but I know you started to 🙂 . We have had some pain over the years but plenty of good times to go with it. This is a special list and we are still very young,we’ll be up and about for a few years to come now.
        Great win by the Ressies on the weekend too.

        • September 26th 2016 @ 11:56am
          I hate pies said | September 26th 2016 @ 11:56am | ! Report

          You were right Matty. There’s so much talent and hunger across the board. I shed a tear on Saturday.
          Do you reckon Jongy gets a gig? I reckon he’s made for a GF; Jong in, McLean out. He can’t kick, but that doesn’t matter too much on grand final day; playing with heart and winning the footy is what matters.

          • September 26th 2016 @ 12:12pm
            mattyb said | September 26th 2016 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

            IHP,I’ve always thought Jongy was made for finals just as I thought Smith was when he returned this year. I must say I forgot a little about Smith during my pre season predictions or I didn’t think he’d return in such an impressive fashion.
            I think McLean should play on the weekend, he was very good and provides a link up target across half forward better than others. I’d like to see Jong back but who would be the unlucky one to miss out. I’m not sure we will need both Roberts and Hamling against the Swans. Another bash and crash onballer could be very handy and would allow Smith to spend more time forward. I still have the feeling Suckling will come in. He doesn’t impress me though so I’d be happy to see no change or Jong for Roberts.

            • Roar Guru

              September 26th 2016 @ 12:15pm
              Paul D said | September 26th 2016 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

              Gee Hamling would be unlucky to miss out. Has been great this finals series.

              be interesting to see who the dogs lineup is. There will undoubtedly be a few blokes gutted after it is announced!

              • September 26th 2016 @ 12:20pm
                mattyb said | September 26th 2016 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

                Agree Paul,Hamling has been overlooked at times during the season though but on current form I can’t see it happening which is why I think if anyone will be unlucky it could be Roberts. The only reason I mentioned Hamling is the MC think him and Roberts are on par going by selection during the season. I think Hamling will definitely play.

              • September 26th 2016 @ 8:55pm
                Pumping Dougie said | September 26th 2016 @ 8:55pm | ! Report

                One change only I reckon – Suckling for Roberts.

              • September 26th 2016 @ 12:33pm
                Slane said | September 26th 2016 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

                The footage of Crameri coming back to the kennel showed us all how a football club run. This Bulldog team could do anything.

            • September 26th 2016 @ 12:16pm
              andyl12 said | September 26th 2016 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

              MattyB, what would a Bulldogs victory at the MCG this Saturday mean for the national competition?

            • September 26th 2016 @ 2:57pm
              I hate pies said | September 26th 2016 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

              Fletch will definitely make way for Suckling. Like yourself, I’m not too enamoured with Suckling. I think he’s a bit soft and too cutesy with his kicking when it should be a weapon. Fletch will make way for him, even though he’s the one with the height to take on Franklin.
              It’s a tough call on who to drop for Jong, they’ve all played their hearts out in the last couple of weeks. McLean has been good, but he’s the only one I can see getting dropped. Maybe they’ll go with an unchanged line up.

              • Roar Guru

                September 26th 2016 @ 8:24pm
                Mister Football said | September 26th 2016 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

                You’re probably right, but geez, I though Roberts had a decent game.

              • September 26th 2016 @ 8:57pm
                Pumping Dougie said | September 26th 2016 @ 8:57pm | ! Report

                Jong is unlucky but I still don’t think he’s in our best 22. McLean’s decision-making and class are way higher. Very impressive effort by Jong though to play two weeks after a broken collar bone and surgery – mad.

    • Roar Pro

      September 26th 2016 @ 8:06am
      Mike Huber said | September 26th 2016 @ 8:06am | ! Report

      “From the first second there will be no quarter given by the Dogs, who play like they are prepared to die in a ditch for Luke Beveridge.”

      Could not of said it better myself – also 65,000 people will be supporting them at the Coliseum .

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