Heartbreak in September (Again)

For the first time ever, I’m writing a match report.

Don’t just throw it away and say that it’s way too boring, I’m not doing an afl.com.au-style match report. I’m doing a fan’s match report.

Hope you enjoy.

-Nick


Western Bulldogs v Adelaide Crows

Second Elimination Final

7.20pm, Saturday 12 September

Melbourne Cricket Ground


I’m far too young to remember the 1997 preliminary final.

I won’t know that experience, a trauma that older Bulldogs fans remember with pain in their hearts.

Now, eighteen years after that date, I’ve discovered what it may have been like.

To be honest, I guess we were lucky to be there. We’d greatly exceeded expectations (17th from a particular journalist, anyone?). Even I’d picked us to miss the eight.

I didn’t expect the rollercoaster ride this season would be, including us being in the top four at one stage.

It wasn’t just a Cinderella story for us. Adelaide had played remarkably after the death of Phil Walsh. Instead of keeling over and throwing the towel in for the season, they’ve played remarkably to make finals.

This match was going to be a titanic clash between the two clubs no one could have a problem with.

Eddie Betts loomed as the Crows’ power forward, while the Dogs had Jake ‘The Package’ Stringer.

Sitting in defense, Robert Murphy, Matthew Boyd, and Easton Wood would (probably) keep Adelaide’s score down, while Michael Talia and Rory Laird would need to keep an eye on our forwards.

And then there was the midfield battle royale.

Jack Macrae v Patrick Dangerfield.

Mitch Honeychurch v Brody Smith.

Mitch Wallis v Scott Thompson.

And Marcus Bontempelli v Rory Sloane.

I challenge you to name a better midfield fight than the one in this game.

Then the match started.

2nd minute goal by Stewart Crameri.

3rd minute goal by Tory Dickson.

5th minute goal by Luke Dahlhaus.

We’d kicked three goals in the space of five minutes. I knew the Bulldogs had a frentic game style, but I didn’t expect it to be like this.

Things then started to go wrong from the moment Stringer started clutching his hamstring.

Betts kicked his first goal of the match, and 400th of his career. Five of the next six also went to the Crows, including two more from Betts.

The second and third quarters were flipflopping back and forth.

The Bulldogs would score a goal, then Adelaide would score, then the Bulldogs, then Adelaide…

You literally couldn’t tell who would win.

The Bulldogs hit the front in the last term, after consecutive goals. We then kicked the next one, giving us a 7-point lead.

Could we finally, for the first time in five years, five heartwrenching, solitary years, win a final?

Taylor Walker gave us nerves when he scored another goal, Adelaide followed up with two points.

And then it happened.

Lachie Hunter, poor Lachie Hunter, failed to take the handball, the Crows intercepted, and it was passed to Walker, who kicked it straight to Charlie Cameron, 20 metres out.

He converted, and kicked the final, sealing, goal.

So now, I can, like I’ve done the past four seasons, watch the finals with the interest of an unbiased observer, rather than a passionate Dogs fan.

We’ll win a final one day.


Western Bulldogs   4.6   7.10   10.16   14.18.102

Adelaide                    6.3    9.6      13.9    16.13.109

GOALS

Western Bulldogs: Dickson 5, Crameri 2, Stringer 2, Redpath 2, Grant, Jong, Dahlhaus

Adelaide: Betts 5, Walker 3, Cameron 2, Knight 2, Lynch, Henderson, Sloane, Thompson

BEST

Western Bulldogs: Dickson, Bontempelli, Picken, Jong, Dahlhaus

Adelaide: Walker, Betts, Henderson, Dangerfield, Cameron

MY VOTES: Taylor Walker (ADEL) 3, Eddie Betts (ADEL) 2, Tory Dickson (WB) 1

Umpires: Nicholls, Hosking, Schmitt

Crowd: 60,782 at the MCG

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