The Western Bulldogs’ 104-point demolition of Essendon has them daring to dream of a late-season run to the AFL finals.
When Liam Picken decided to try his luck in the big league to emulate the deeds of his father Billy, he knew it would be no easy task.
His brother Marcus had debuted as an 18-year-old for Brisbane in 1998 when Liam was still an 11-year-old schoolboy.
Although Marcus showed some good form, injuries and lack of opportunities restricted him to 25 games and nine goals in his four seasons at the Lions. He was traded to the Western Bulldogs but never played another senior AFL game.
Liam arrived in Melbourne in 2005 hoping to make the grade at his father’s club Collingwood but was not picked up after the pre-season.
He spent the next two years doing pre-season training at the Bulldogs, but again failed to make the list.
Season 2008 proved to be a watershed year for the then-21-year-old. Williamstown had now aligned with the Western Bulldogs and he had a brilliant year with the Seagulls, being named the second-best Seagulls player behind Callan Ward in the qualifying loss to North Ballarat, and second-best again in the thrilling one-point win in the semi-final.
He capped off the year by sharing the Gerry Callahan Medal for the best-and-fairest player with team captain Brett Johnson.
This form lead to him being drafted as a mature-age player to the Bulldogs’ rookie list in 2009.
Picken played his first game in Round 2 against North Melbourne, and coach Rodney Eade gave him the job of tagging Brent Harvey.
This he did so successfully he went on to claim the scalps of Andrew McLeod (Adelaide), Leigh Montagna (St Kilda) and Brett Deledio (Richmond).
Deledio only played two games in 2009 where he failed to gain at least 20 disposals – both against Picken.
His true worth to the club was shown when he finished third in the Bulldogs’ best and fairest in 2012.
In his nine years at the club, Liam never played at least 20 games in every season.
The arrival of Luke Beveridge at the club in 2015 resulted in Picken being transformed into a more aggressive player, capable of scoring goals in the forward line.
This resulted in him kicking 62 per cent of his 87 goals in his last three years as a player at the club and sharing the 2017 goal-kicking award with Jake Stringer.
There is no doubt, however, that Liam Picken’s legacy to the Bulldogs was his pivotal role in the club’s 2016 premiership – the first the club had won since 1954, which was two years before Liam’s father Billy was born.
He averaged 23 disposals in the four finals, including 25 in the grand final. He also kicked three goals in the semi-final against Hawthorn and another three in the grand final against Sydney.
He currently sits in 27th place on the club’s top 100 game players and 65th on the Bulldogs’ top 100 goal-scorers.
He has made the difficult decision to retire and can regale his three children – Malachy and twins Delphi and Cheska – with tales of his skill as a finals performer in both AFL and VFL finals.