Is this the best Bulldogs team you've ever seen?

Is it?


  • Total voters
    65

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footscray1973

Club Legend
May 17, 2004
2,256
2,933
Pepperland
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Western Bulldogs
Other Teams
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Welshy was a competent backup/pinch-hitting ruckman and forward, but why the hell any coach thought he could cut it in defence...!

Greg Parke's 1974 season at CHF was one of the major factors in our push up the ladder. His total marks for the season was only bettered by his performance while still at Melbourne in 1970, when daylight was second. Look at our aerial strength in 1974 - 5 of the top 10, in an era when long kicking to contests was king. And while Parke averaged nearly 11 marks a game in 1970 (not bad for a 185cm CHF), Dempsey's average in both 70 and 74 is amazing. (Career average was 8.83 over 329 games and 18 seasons, at a peak rate of 11.5 per game in 1973.) (All stats from afltables.com as usual.)

1974:
1618380859359.png


1970:
1618380790734.png
 

yebiga

Come on Barbie let's go party
Aug 1, 2008
13,410
16,935
Post-Modern Clown-World
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
As an old dude, I can assure you we had a great list in the early to mid 70s, too.

I recall Jack Dyer interviewing Neil Craig, who had signed with us (circa 1972). Jack congratulated Craig on his choice of club, saying that "...this side is capable of winning premierships".

Sadly, poor - amateurish - management led to player unrest, supporter indifference and financial problems.

This period should have been a hugely successful time in the club's history, but instead it led ultimately to the debacle that was 1989...
Exactly,
The high end talent from 1976-79 would have to be the best we've ever had: Dempsey, Round, Quinlin, Templeton, Huppatz, Featherby, Hawkins, Wilson, Wheeler, Jennings
It is incredible that these teams performed as badly as they did. 5 Brownlow Medalists FFS.
The reports are they partied very hard
 

Mojorisin

Premiership Player
Oct 20, 2017
3,519
4,933
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Midfield is the best I've seen talls in the forward line are the best I've seen in 20 odd years, defence has alot of question marks and small forwards are still a concern
 

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D Mitchell

Premiership Player
Jul 28, 2006
3,254
1,028
Melbourne
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The 2016 team started like this, and then the injuries hit - without all the injuries I still believe we were headed for a top 2 finish - a belief validated with our dominant finals campaign.
2 Tall Defenders, neither of whom could hold down a spot permanently during the year, in and out; no permanent tall forward (I don't consider Dickson a tall); a gaggle of 2nd & 3rd year mids and toss in a 2nd year coach. How could that possibly win a Flag ?
 

Unorth

Club Legend
Apr 3, 2014
1,594
4,878
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
There's two distinct weaknesses this team has when compared to our 2016 team.

First, we're missing First Dog on the Moon giving us visual representations of the state of the lid.

Second, we don't have Danny McGinlay doing legendary banners.

I feel like filling those two positions would make us a really well rounded unit.
 

LittleG

Norm Smith Medallist
Nov 18, 2015
6,985
7,904
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Best midfield & tall forwards I have seen at club.
We shall see about the rest of the team but we could win a few flags with that combination.
Small forwards are rather poor and clearly our weakest link.
Defence is better than average but isn’t anywhere near our recent strong teams. Imagine adding a young Croft, Harris, Grant OR Morris to that mix.... then we would be starting to talk about the defence strength of this team.
 

Philthy1

All Australian
Sep 17, 2017
897
1,492
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
85 side had 3 of the 4 KPP positions sorted - Beasley FF, Foster CHB, Kennedy FB. We didn't have a genuine CHF - Sewell played there at times, but was a tad too light and a cm or two short to be a genuine CHF, and Groena was used there as a defensive CHF at times, although having come through Braybrook with Hawk, his skills were better than many people give him credit for. Unfortunately he also wasn't a genuine attacking CHF. Malthouse even resorted to playing Neil Peart there during the 85 finals, who was a journeyman at best, and far short of what we needed. We had a solid defense, with Kennedy, Hardie, Foster and B.Cordy playing there almost the entire year, and then would swing others through there as required - M.Ford, N.Cordy, Kellet, Tzatzaris - even bringing in Emmett Dunne specifically to match up on Salmon v Bombers. And of course one of the premier ruckman at the top of his game in Polly Purser. Hard to believe he rucked almost the entire season, as he did for several season with us, with little to no rest. He missed one game through suspension, when Alister Ford played one of his few genuinely capable games for us as fill-in.

We also had the flexibility to swing Sewell to defense at times, and even Magic McLean and Steve MacPherson. Our centreline was hugely influential that year - predominantly Hawkins, Wallis and Daniels, but also often McLean or R. MacPherson (as almost a tagger against oppo attacking wingers) on the wings. Royal and Buhagiar were a dynamic roving combination, and also both goal-kickers. Maylin, once inserted into the team after being recruited a few rounds in, was also a great pickup. The forward line was, genuine CHF apart, on fire in 85. Beasley, Bamblett, Edmond, S.Mac, Royal and Buhagiar when resting. Malthouse had (although to a lesser degree) a touch of the 'flexibility' mantra like Bevo - Sewell swung regularly to both ends (although had been almost solely a forward at East Fremantle), Hardie swung forward later in the season, S.Mac, and McLean good enough to play multiple positions, and then quality pinch-hitters like N.Cordy, who predominantly played as a defender when used in 85, but had started as a forward. (Foster was not really pushed forward until subsequent years - if we'd had two Fosters in 85 - he was the Naughton of his era - we would have romped the 85 flag in IMO.) Ian Williams struggling to recapture his 83-84 form didn't help - was a dead-eye goal-kicker and for a skinny bloke, harder in the contest than he looked.

While it probably wouldn't have changed the outcome of the game, in hindsight Malthouse starting the only two players on the list with finals experience - Buhagiar and Maylin - on the bench in the Qual Final, meant we got smashed early in the centre by the Hawks, even though Purser dominated ruck contest against Langford as their #1 ruck, and Byrne as support. By the time Maylin and Buhagiar came on, we were 4-5 goals down, our confidence was shot, especially the younger players, and a hardened finals opponent ran all over us. It's a miracle - and a credit to coach and players, that we turned it around to run over North and lead late into the Prelim, but we spent all our petrol tickets 3 1/2 quarters in, and Matthews was fired up after getting shown up by Hardie early. It didn't help that we lost Kellett and M.Ford to injury during the semi v North either.

As has been noted on here many times before, we had the Bombers measure that year, and even Sheedy has alluded to that at the time and since (amazing considering he rarely if ever acknowledges our club in a positive light). We just couldn't get over those Hawks, even though we'd beaten them in a wet slog in round 20 at WO to ensure we finished top 3 and got the double chance. A flag, or even a grand final appearance in 85, could have been the trigger for that team to achieve greater things. We were a strong side, with experienced campaigners mixed with exuberant youth, talent on every line.

Instead, we lost the prelim, a ridiculous misunderstanding forced the captain to depart, Buhagiar retired, Daniels fell off a cliff for various reasons in 86 and left before the end of the year, Hardie fell out with the coach and was gone by the end of 86 as well, Hawkins did his knee in round 17 in 86 when 5th placed us were playing 4th placed Pies, and we led most of the game but lost by under 2 goals, and dropped to 6th, briefly slipped back into 5th in round 20 but ultimately missed the finals, getting hammered in 3 of the last 5 games.

McGuinness and Rance had proved more than capable recruits, Rance almost a Foster clone who could play both ends and take a good mark, McGuinness a gun on-baller who could kick goals (and kick both feet) and run all day. But even they couldn't stifle the downward spiral of the later 80s.

Lots of sliding doors moments in late 85 and through to 86 combined to turn a really good side into an also ran, who again briefly looked like a genuine threat late into 87, then fell away for a number of seasons. A recurring cycle in our history.
As you have outlined, 85 / 86 is a cautionary tale. Not exactly the same but 2017 was downhill after climbing the mountain in 2016 for a whole bunch of reasons. We may be peaking again but have achieved nothing yet. We must keep our focus on doing what needs to be done, not thinking we have made it because we've won a couple of games.
 

fronkalicious

Brownlow Medallist
Apr 10, 2008
15,552
33,538
sydney
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
We haven’t really beaten much this year so far though.

North are a VFL team.

Collingwood bottom 6 and we couldn’t put them away.

Brisbane might limp into the 8, and have been on the road for 3 weeks.

West coast are top 4 material, but beating them in melbourne isn’t huge news.

Big tests to come. Can’t wait.


Sent from my iPhone using BigFooty.com
 

Boristown

Premiership Player
May 24, 2015
3,283
8,229
AFL Club
North Melbourne
We haven’t really beaten much this year so far though.

North are a VFL team.

Collingwood bottom 6 and we couldn’t put them away.

Brisbane might limp into the 8, and have been on the road for 3 weeks.

West coast are top 4 material, but beating them in melbourne isn’t huge news.

Big tests to come. Can’t wait.


Sent from my iPhone using BigFooty.com
On the flip side, Bontempelli has only had 1 real stand out game (Eagles) and besides the North game, it looks like the Dogs have another gear. Bodes well.
 

fronkalicious

Brownlow Medallist
Apr 10, 2008
15,552
33,538
sydney
AFL Club
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On the flip side, Bontempelli has only had 1 real stand out game (Eagles) and besides the North game, it looks like the Dogs have another gear. Bodes well.
Agree re having another gear. Definitely felt like we cruised against brissie and the pies.


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RedWhite&Blue

Premiership Player
Jul 21, 2005
3,352
4,755
Vic
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
1985 Team is revered amongst Bulldogs supporters that lived through the era. Players included Hawkins, Royal, Kennedy, Foster, Super, Edmond, Budgie, Purser, Beasley, Bamblett, etc...

1997 Team is also revered... that team included the great Chris Grant, Smith, West, Johnson, Brown, Hudson, Romero, Darcy, Cameron, Cook, Kretiuk...

2016... Bont, Stringer, Picken, Roughead, Morris, Dickson, Hunter, Johannisen, Daniel, Wood, Macrae, Libba...

2021... Bont, Naughton, Bruce, English, Daniel, Libba, Wood, Hunter, B Smith, Treloar, Macrae, Dunkley, Dale, Crozier....

The thing that really stands out for me is that the older teams had really tough, fearful backlines.
The newer era teams have incredible midfields...
The 2021 lineup has the most incredible midfield lineup ever seen in a Bulldogs team, with some emerging superstars up forward. I love what out backline could become - Keath is fantastic but we are definitely lacking some talls in their prime - I hold out hope that Young and Gardner can become that with Young showing serious signs.

My opinion: Time makes everything seem better because you look back with rose coloured glasses.
It’s actually a really interesting exercise comparing this team to the previous great Bulldogs teams because it has made me realise that based on our inclusions in Treloar and Martin coupled with the development of English as a forward, it will take a larger sample size of games but 2021 should be the best by the end of the year.

Very exciting times at the Kennel!
 
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GetDimmaBack

BigFooty Librarian
Mar 30, 2008
7,694
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Exactly,
The high end talent from 1976-79 would have to be the best we've ever had: Dempsey, Round, Quinlin, Templeton, Huppatz, Featherby, Hawkins, Wilson, Wheeler, Jennings
It is incredible that these teams performed as badly as they did. 5 Brownlow Medalists FFS.
The reports are they partied very hard
Yeah, they were party boys, apparently.

Might have been even moreso a few years earlier, when Freddy Cook and Bones McGhie were at the club...
 

dogwatch

Premium Platinum
Jun 17, 2009
21,923
33,636
Canberra
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There's two distinct weaknesses this team has when compared to our 2016 team.

First, we're missing First Dog on the Moon giving us visual representations of the state of the lid.

Second, we don't have Danny McGinlay doing legendary banners.

I feel like filling those two positions would make us a really well rounded unit.
A Scragesque post.
 

theAthenian

All Australian
Jun 24, 2008
858
1,326
Athens, Greece
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
yes but only slightly better than the 1985 dream team imo (if you didnt see the 85 team up close week in week out its understandable to be skeptical)
also.. 4-5 players in 2016 team wouldnt get a game in either current or 1985 team.
 

hutchy31

Premiership Player
May 25, 2014
4,706
5,927
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
The midfield is stacked, with an elite contested possession winner (Libba), an elite accumulator (Macrae), an elite talent on virtually every metric (Bont) and now two incredible burst mids in Treloar and Smith. Now they finally have a competent ruck, if he can play on for a while that should basically ensure finals appearances until the group breaks up.

I'd still be concerned with our KPD division - light on in terms of depth and individual ability imo. Half back line and intercept defenders cover this up from a team perspective but it's a clear weakness imo.

KPF stocks look good now with Ugle Hagan waiting in the wings and English developing there. Smalls are potentially an issue - can't say I agree with how those spots have been filled in recent weeks, but we'll see how this develops. Weightman/Hannan/West/Cavarra may end up being better options than what's there right now, I'd be surprised if this part of the lineup didn't change substantially between now and finals.

I think the ceiling of this team is the highest I've seen, although I've not been watching the side as long as others. I think the floor is fairly high as well given the midfield group. Window should theoretically be open for the next 3-5 years but we all know it doesn't necessarily work out like that. Should be fun to watch though.
 

BrisDog

Club Legend
Dec 13, 2012
2,751
6,996
AFL Club
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85 side had 3 of the 4 KPP positions sorted - Beasley FF, Foster CHB, Kennedy FB. We didn't have a genuine CHF - Sewell played there at times, but was a tad too light and a cm or two short to be a genuine CHF, and Groena was used there as a defensive CHF at times, although having come through Braybrook with Hawk, his skills were better than many people give him credit for. Unfortunately he also wasn't a genuine attacking CHF. Malthouse even resorted to playing Neil Peart there during the 85 finals, who was a journeyman at best, and far short of what we needed. We had a solid defense, with Kennedy, Hardie, Foster and B.Cordy playing there almost the entire year, and then would swing others through there as required - M.Ford, N.Cordy, Kellet, Tzatzaris - even bringing in Emmett Dunne specifically to match up on Salmon v Bombers. And of course one of the premier ruckman at the top of his game in Polly Purser. Hard to believe he rucked almost the entire season, as he did for several season with us, with little to no rest. He missed one game through suspension, when Alister Ford played one of his few genuinely capable games for us as fill-in.

We also had the flexibility to swing Sewell to defense at times, and even Magic McLean and Steve MacPherson. Our centreline was hugely influential that year - predominantly Hawkins, Wallis and Daniels, but also often McLean or R. MacPherson (as almost a tagger against oppo attacking wingers) on the wings. Royal and Buhagiar were a dynamic roving combination, and also both goal-kickers. Maylin, once inserted into the team after being recruited a few rounds in, was also a great pickup. The forward line was, genuine CHF apart, on fire in 85. Beasley, Bamblett, Edmond, S.Mac, Royal and Buhagiar when resting. Malthouse had (although to a lesser degree) a touch of the 'flexibility' mantra like Bevo - Sewell swung regularly to both ends (although had been almost solely a forward at East Fremantle), Hardie swung forward later in the season, S.Mac, and McLean good enough to play multiple positions, and then quality pinch-hitters like N.Cordy, who predominantly played as a defender when used in 85, but had started as a forward. (Foster was not really pushed forward until subsequent years - if we'd had two Fosters in 85 - he was the Naughton of his era - we would have romped the 85 flag in IMO.) Ian Williams struggling to recapture his 83-84 form didn't help - was a dead-eye goal-kicker and for a skinny bloke, harder in the contest than he looked.

While it probably wouldn't have changed the outcome of the game, in hindsight Malthouse starting the only two players on the list with finals experience - Buhagiar and Maylin - on the bench in the Qual Final, meant we got smashed early in the centre by the Hawks, even though Purser dominated ruck contest against Langford as their #1 ruck, and Byrne as support. By the time Maylin and Buhagiar came on, we were 4-5 goals down, our confidence was shot, especially the younger players, and a hardened finals opponent ran all over us. It's a miracle - and a credit to coach and players, that we turned it around to run over North and lead late into the Prelim, but we spent all our petrol tickets 3 1/2 quarters in, and Matthews was fired up after getting shown up by Hardie early. It didn't help that we lost Kellett and M.Ford to injury during the semi v North either.

As has been noted on here many times before, we had the Bombers measure that year, and even Sheedy has alluded to that at the time and since (amazing considering he rarely if ever acknowledges our club in a positive light). We just couldn't get over those Hawks, even though we'd beaten them in a wet slog in round 20 at WO to ensure we finished top 3 and got the double chance. A flag, or even a grand final appearance in 85, could have been the trigger for that team to achieve greater things. We were a strong side, with experienced campaigners mixed with exuberant youth, talent on every line.

Instead, we lost the prelim, a ridiculous misunderstanding forced the captain to depart, Buhagiar retired, Daniels fell off a cliff for various reasons in 86 and left before the end of the year, Hardie fell out with the coach and was gone by the end of 86 as well, Hawkins did his knee in round 17 in 86 when 5th placed us were playing 4th placed Pies, and we led most of the game but lost by under 2 goals, and dropped to 6th, briefly slipped back into 5th in round 20 but ultimately missed the finals, getting hammered in 3 of the last 5 games.

McGuinness and Rance had proved more than capable recruits, Rance almost a Foster clone who could play both ends and take a good mark, McGuinness a gun on-baller who could kick goals (and kick both feet) and run all day. But even they couldn't stifle the downward spiral of the later 80s.

Lots of sliding doors moments in late 85 and through to 86 combined to turn a really good side into an also ran, who again briefly looked like a genuine threat late into 87, then fell away for a number of seasons. A recurring cycle in our history.
Great post 👍
 

CarnTheScray

Premiership Player
Jun 4, 2019
3,531
4,322
Bevo Bunker
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
I hate the term “premiership window”. That term is only applied to a team that made it to a granny or prelim the year before.

It’s just a dumb thing the AFL media has come up with. How many would have said Richmond is in their premiership window in 2016 or 2017?

Predicting future premiers is fun but it is also such a silly idea for media professionals to discuss considering they get 80% of their predictions completely wrong.
 

dogwatch

Premium Platinum
Jun 17, 2009
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Canberra
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...

I think the ceiling of this team is the highest I've seen, although I've not been watching the side as long as others. I think the floor is fairly high as well given the midfield group. Window should theoretically be open for the next 3-5 years but we all know it doesn't necessarily work out like that. Should be fun to watch though.
Love the architectural metaphors.

If we can stay on top of the ladder we might be having a night on the tiles in late September. The recruitment of Martin has definitely opened the door for our midfield. I reckon we might blow the roof clean off this year, as long as we don't hit the wall mid-season. That would be curtains for us.
 

The Buck

Team Captain
Sep 23, 2013
446
1,250
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Love the architectural metaphors.

If we can stay on top of the ladder we might be having a night on the tiles in late September. The recruitment of Martin has definitely opened the door for our midfield. I reckon we might blow the roof clean off this year, as long as we don't hit the wall mid-season. That would be curtains for us.
I think you've built the foundations of a good argument there DW.
 

Dog 36

Premiership Player
Oct 4, 2004
3,025
3,906
Essendon
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MAN U
The 1985 team is special to me because it was "Footscray" and they wore my favourite doggies guernsey with Eastcoast Jeans the sponsor I think.

That was the team that got me following the Dishlickers and going to the games.
 

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