What They're Saying - The Bulldogs Media Thread - Part 4

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bullish23

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Great scheduling but personally don’t like Thursday night games. Footy is for the weekend.

Team (and coach) now has to step up and meet the expectations which hasn’t always been our strong suit.
 

Golden_6

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Sorry, what have I missed? When is this?
Round 16
Brisbane v Western Bulldogs
Thursday 30 June, 7.20pm AEST
Gabba
Channel 7

Round 17
Sydney v Western Bulldogs
Friday 8 July, 7.50pm AEST
SCG
Channel 7

Round 18
Western Bulldogs v St Kilda
Friday 15 July, 7.50pm AEST
Marvel Stadium
Channel 7

Round 19
Western Bulldogs v Melbourne
Saturday 23 July, 7.25pm AEST
Marvel Stadium
Channel 7
 

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Libbaaaa

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Round 16
Brisbane v Western Bulldogs
Thursday 30 June, 7.20pm AEST
Gabba
Channel 7

Round 17
Sydney v Western Bulldogs
Friday 8 July, 7.50pm AEST
SCG
Channel 7

Round 18
Western Bulldogs v St Kilda
Friday 15 July, 7.50pm AEST
Marvel Stadium
Channel 7

Round 19
Western Bulldogs v Melbourne
Saturday 23 July, 7.25pm AEST
Marvel Stadium
Channel 7
Then depending on how we are tracking at that time of the year Round 20 we play Geelong at their cow paddock and in Round 21 Freo at Marvel, more potential prime time slots.
 

NBates

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Sam Landsberger

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Western Bulldogs were almost made to pay for their wastefulness.

Western Bulldogs were almost made to pay for their wastefulness.

LESS BARK THAN YIP

IN 2019 lifelong defender Aaron Naughton developed a goalkicking routine – five walking steps, five running steps. Is it working? Naughton has 25.18 for the season. Compare that to fluent Richmond spearhead Tom Lynch’s 31.14 (before Dreamtime). On Saturday in Ballarat Naughton (3.2) was unstoppable in the first half … until the ball hit his boot. The fearless forward crashed packs and stuck marks. It should’ve been game over, but the Dogs kicked poorly and then couldn’t shake the Suns until the very end. Perhaps it was partly due to blustery conditions. At halftime Adam Treloar, Josh Dunkley, Marcus Bontempelli and Rhylee West had 0.6 between them. Last year St Kilda banned Max King from receiving goalkicking lessons from his Haileybury coach in Matthew Lloyd. Wonder whether anyone at Whitten Oval would oppose such divine intervention.

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Jordan Sweet has enjoyed a strong two weeks as the No. 1 ruckman.

Jordan Sweet has enjoyed a strong two weeks as the No. 1 ruckman.

PUPPY SCHOOL PLAUDITS

Coach Luke Beveridge bemoaned after last month’s visit to Ballarat the next tier of players wasn’t quite ready. In April he revealed ruckman Tim English had evolved so rapidly only one ruckman was needed. You wonder whether Jordan Sweet’s eight quarters of footy have commanded a rethink on both those statements, with English set to return next week. Sweet’s precise palms have added extra potency to Beveridge’s midfield. Alongside him are a bunch of kids not many supporters thought were ready – Rhylee West, Luke Cleary, Buku Khamis and Robbie McComb as well as 2021 debutants Lachie McNeil and Anthony Scott. West plays with power and while Ed Richards is hardly a puppy, his aerial work has been wonderful redeployed at halfback. Similarly, Bailey Williams’ push up to the wing has produced two eye-catching performances.
 

NBates

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AFL Round 10 Western Bulldogs v Gold Coast: All the news, action and fallout from Ballarat​

The Bulldogs got the chocolates, but it wasn’t without controversy as intrigue surrounding incidents involving star key forward Aaron Naughton.

Dylan Bolch

7 min read
May 21, 2022 - 7:07PM
News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom
https://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/.../f5863245c1a97c8ba7ad2d391452fbff#share-tools

The Western Bulldogs have won consecutive matches for the first time in 2022 after defeating the Gold Coast Suns by 19 points in Ballarat.
However, the match was not without controversy with blocking incidents involving Aaron Naughton sparking interest post-match.
Naughton and underrated Suns defender Sam Collins played an enthralling head-to-head battle, but Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge was coy as to why Naughton dropped off in the second half.


Luke Beveridge was coy [PLAYERCARD]Aaron Naughton[/PLAYERCARD]’s drop off. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Luke Beveridge was coy Aaron Naughton’s drop off. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images

“I’ve got to be really careful here,” said Beveridge.
“He’s been so dominant, there are reasons why he wasn’t in the second half.”
Beveridge specified that Naughton’s quieter second half had nothing to do with a knee niggle the superstar key forward has been dealing with.
“We’ll do some follow up, he kept fighting and bringing the ball to ground which is what he does.
“He was just outstanding in that first half.”
Whilst Beveridge was perhaps alluding to the off the ball incidents involving Naughton, Suns coach Stuart Dew believed that his midfield “cranking up the heat” was the key reason the Suns were able to quell Naughton’s influence.
“We just changed the mix… the ball was coming down pretty freely in the first.
“I think we got more pressure on the ball and heat on the delivery.
“Sam Collins’ ability to rebound from the first ten minutes where things weren’t going his way… he fought it out.”
The Dogs levelled their season ledger at 5-5 and Beveridge hoped that the victory would lay the platform for the Dogs to burst in the back half of the season.
[PLAYERCARD]Aaron Naughton[/PLAYERCARD] flies for a mark. Picture: Martin Keep/Getty Images

Aaron Naughton flies for a mark. Picture: Martin Keep/Getty Images

“Our mandate is to try and establish consistency,” said Beveridge.
“Throughout the course of the game we had momentum and then they spiked, credit to them they kept coming. Their perseverance was strong and they’re improving all the time.
“There were some fundamentals where we let ourselves down, for our lads to hold their nerve and come again… it was encouraging.
“Hopefully we can establish ourselves as a team who can string a few more together.”
The Dogs monstered the Suns at the coalface, winning the clearance battle 49-34 and Beveridge believed that proved a key factor in deciding the Ballarat thriller.
“Our midfield was always on edge and did a pretty good job, for our guys to be influential through that area was so important for us today.”
The Bulldogs’ list depth has been tested in recent weeks, with the likes of Tim English, Cody Weightman, Mitch Wallis and Jason Johannisen all having been unavailable.
Beveridge was pleased with the performances from youngsters Luke Cleary and Jordon Sweet who stepped up in the absence of several regular contributors.
Beveridge was impressed with the game of Luke Cleary Picture: Martin Keep/Getty Images

Beveridge was impressed with the game of Luke Cleary Picture: Martin Keep/Getty Images

“To see Luke [Cleary] play the way he did today, he had a really good game.
“Jordon [Sweet] fought a terrific fight against big [Jarrod] Witts, leading into the day he had had 43 more hit outs to advantage than any other ruck in the competition.
“It’s great for our club and our team that those boys can come in and play really important roles.”
Beveridge also sang the praises of Bailey Williams (two goals) who featured in a new role on the wing and Ed Richards, who repelled numerous Suns advances forward.
“We’ve had a lot of change through our wings. We are virtually playing inside midfielders and defenders on our wings and they’re doing a good job of it.
“[Williams] won his wing; we haven’t been able to say that about too many of our wingers over the past ten games.”
Tim English is likely to be available next week, but Beveridge is unsure how the English-Sweet ruck combo might look saying that Sweet’s form has presented the coaching staff with a “challenge” as English returns.
Dew was pleased with the fighting spirit his Suns showed, but rued the inability to gain any significant momentum.
“We never quite got going, but never gave up,” he said.
“You can look at those two ways, but we were up against a formidable opponent.
“We feel like we are building a consistent brand that our players and supporters can expect when we come to play.
“We’ll just keep chasing improvement and look forward to the next opportunity.”
Joel Jeffrey, who suffered the loss of a family member during the week, was one of the Suns best players in just his sixth AFL game.
“For a young lad to kick five goals in those circumstances, we are proud of him, and his family should be proud of him as well.
“He’ll get more from that than we will, we know he’s a good player… he’ll get more belief.
“I think we saw today what he is capable of.”
Dew also revealed that Rory Thompson looks to have escaped an ACL injury but will receive scans in the coming days.

 

NBates

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AFL Round 10 Western Bulldogs v Gold Coast: All the news, action and fallout from Ballarat​

The Gold Coast remains puzzled by Luke Beveridge’s inference of illegal tactics after Aaron Naughton’s limited late impact, as they prepare to be without a defender for a month.

Jon Ralph and Dylan Bolch

May 22, 2022 - 3:06PM


Gold Coast is mystified by Luke Beveridge’s inference of illegal tactics from their defenders after Aaron Naughton’s quiet second half against the Dogs.

The Suns are counting the cost of that fighting loss, with veteran defender Rory Thompson expected to miss more than a month with a meniscus injury.
He has only just returned from two seasons out with multiple ACL tears and was playing strong football when he limped off against the Dogs.


[PLAYERCARD]Aaron Naughton[/PLAYERCARD] handballs before being tackled at Mars Stadium in Ballarat. Picture: Martin Keep/Getty Images

Aaron Naughton handballs before being tackled at Mars Stadium in Ballarat. Picture: Martin Keep/Getty Images

He could miss between 4-8 weeks, with scans on Monday to diagnose the extent of the injury.
The Suns are likely to bring in key defender Caleb Graham after strong recent form, with top-10 draft pick Mac Andrew playing strong VFL football but not quite ready yet for an AFL debut as an intercepting defender.
Gold Coast defender Sam Collins started on the brilliant Naughton and was overwhelmed early, with Thompson moved onto him.
In the second half with Thompson sidelined he kept him quiet but post-match Beveridge suggested “there are reasons” why his star forward wasn’t able to dominate.
The Suns chose not to comment on Sunday but privately believed there was one clear free kick that was not paid as Naughton was held by Collins.
Coach Stuart Dew believed the club’s midfield pressure allowed them to limit the flow to Naughton.

[PLAYERCARD]Aaron Naughton[/PLAYERCARD] (left) celebrates a goal against the Gold Coast Suns. Picture: Martin Keep/Getty Images

Aaron Naughton (left) celebrates a goal against the Gold Coast Suns. Picture: Martin Keep/Getty Images

Former VFL defender Collins is not known as a dirty player who scrags, with a series of highlights from their clash showing the pair throwing their weight around with little evidence of illegality.
Beveridge suggested the Suns’ second half tactics were off in what seemed to be a ploy to secure more free kicks for his forward half weapon.
“I’ve got to be really careful here,” Beveridge said.
“He’s been so dominant, there are reasons why he wasn’t in the second half.”
“We’ll do some follow up, he kept fighting and bringing the ball to ground which is what he does. He was just outstanding in that first half.”
 

doggiesin08

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Standard media flogs having a crack at Bevo for raising the issue and not giving full details. Pretty sure he didn’t raise the issue and it came from a reporter question. What’s he meant to do?
 

NBates

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Mark Robinson’s likes and dislikes from round 10​

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6. Eddie Everywhere

After a horror 2021, when he broke his ankle and played only five games, seeing Ed Richards in the senior team in 2022 prompted two questions: Had he improved to earn his spot or had the Bulldogs fallen away, allowing for Richards’ inclusion? A summer training in defence has shown that it is the former. A renowned speedster, we never knew what his ideal position was, and now he’s a starting defender in the Bulldogs’ 22. His speed is still there, but he’s added two aspects to his game. He’s in the top 10 for kick ratio behind Carlton’s Zac Fisher (No.1), Dayne Zorko (No.2) and Scott Pendlebury (No.3). The best defenders are Pendlebury, teammate Caleb Daniel and then Richards. The other component is his marking. He’s taken 20 marks in the past two weeks, with intercept marking the standout. He took eight against the Suns on Saturday, which was the second-most taken by a player this season. North’s Ben McKay is No.1 with nine intercept marks.
 

Dogs_R_Us

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Standard media flogs having a crack at Bevo for raising the issue and not giving full details. Pretty sure he didn’t raise the issue and it came from a reporter question. What’s he meant to do?
While forwards like Hawkins and Lynch get automatic free kicks as soon as they’re touched. No doubt since their coaches had a discreet word with the umpires. Which is what Bevo will do. Perhaps the ump dept doesn’t think Naughton is illustrious enough yet to deserve protected status.
 

Fossie 32

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While forwards like Hawkins and Lynch get automatic free kicks as soon as they’re touched. No doubt since their coaches had a discreet word with the umpires. Which is what Bevo will do. Perhaps the ump dept doesn’t think Naughton is illustrious enough yet to deserve protected status.
Not to mention getting away with pushes in the back :mad:

4c9d05a0de3bc5c3ba3731484ee87aa7
 

BIG_BONTS

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Looking at the footage Damo showed. It looked like 1, maybe 2 should have been frees? I'm not clear when it's ok and not to engage with body contact with a KPF? If the ball is 1m away obvious yes, but 10m, 20m or 50m?
 

X_box_X

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Looking at the footage Damo showed. It looked like 1, maybe 2 should have been frees? I'm not clear when it's ok and not to engage with body contact with a KPF? If the ball is 1m away obvious yes, but 10m, 20m or 50m?
Nothing untoward. Good defending by Collins.

It's up to Naughton's teammates to help him out. We are a very reactive team. This will be talked about during the week internally and I daresay if defenders want to utilise similar tactics to those used by Collins, then Naughton's teammates will provide support by dishing out similar treatment to the opposition.

This seems to happen to us regularly. Why can't we do something about it in the game? Why wait until it's discussed internally in a match review? We need to be proactive instead of allowing the opposition to bully / niggle at us.
 

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flipper83

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Looking at the footage Damo showed. It looked like 1, maybe 2 should have been frees? I'm not clear when it's ok and not to engage with body contact with a KPF? If the ball is 1m away obvious yes, but 10m, 20m or 50m?
I haven't seen the footage but body contract can only be made if you are contesting the mark. What happens often is that blocks will be applied to stop a forward getting to the contest and the defender has no intention of contesting the mark. It's often not paid.
If the defender is looking at the forward and makes contact then it should be a free, if they are looking at the ball and make contact, play on
 

TiAn_

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Nothing untoward. Good defending by Collins.

It's up to Naughton's teammates to help him out. We are a very reactive team. This will be talked about during the week internally and I daresay if defenders want to utilise similar tactics to those used by Collins, then Naughton's teammates will provide support by dishing out similar treatment to the opposition.

This seems to happen to us regularly. Why can't we do something about it in the game? Why wait until it's discussed internally in a match review? We need to be proactive instead of allowing the opposition to bully / niggle at us.

I keep reading that Cordy is in the team for this reason and it justifies his 3 kicks up forward every week.
 

Unorth

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Cordy has been doing what he’s been asked to at an alright enough level. But Fair to say, at least outwardly, that was his weakest performance in a while. Hard because he’s essentially doing the Hannan 2021 stuff - things that are harder to notice and don’t show us in the stats.

That being said Hannan is a much more natural forward while doing the same stuff. If recoveries go to plan, at some point this season we see Hannan and Bruce replace Buku and Cordy, we’ve got guys in atm just because there’s nobody else. Cordy is probably one of a few.
 

BIG_BONTS

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I haven't seen the footage but body contract can only be made if you are contesting the mark. What happens often is that blocks will be applied to stop a forward getting to the contest and the defender has no intention of contesting the mark. It's often not paid.
If the defender is looking at the forward and makes contact then it should be a free, if they are looking at the ball and make contact, play on
Cheers for explaining:) In that case, seems like ~25% of that vision should be a free?
 

NBates

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Taking care of our own

In the watery Ballarat sunshine, Our Boys have tenaciously held on for a hard-fought win. Patches of scintillating footy were interspersed with struggles, mistakes and lapses. The toll of injury and illness which has severely battered our team remains evident. And, I sense, the team still hasn't recovered fully from the devastating blow to our psyche of the 2021 Grand Final loss.

Neither has the Bulldog Tragician.

But for the first time this year, we've notched up two consecutive wins, while the injury list finally begins to shrink. Five wins, five losses - all of those losses could so easily have gone the other way.

I'm feeling cautious optimism, watching Our Boys gather near the race, celebrating the win and the 200-game milestone of Adam Treloar.

Aaron Naughton is one of those who hoist Adam onto his shoulders. The Astro-Naut had lived up to his nickname in a brilliant first half. Is there a more exhilarating sight than Aaron on song, where clumps of players in packs merely form a launching pad for him to soar, sometimes so high that he can mark the ball on his chest? You can hear, now, a distinctive sound from the crowd as we anticipate his flight, gasping when he lands safely with the ball in his mitts. Aaron hasn't lost the exuberance of kids when they first fall in love with footy; oblivious of whiteboard strategies and concepts of running patterns, zones and angles, wanting only to take speckies and kick goals.

Aaron has a swagger. Only he could really pull off the white headband look. In fact, he has just about become the Tragician's second favourite player. (If you're in any doubt about the identity of the first, allow me to welcome you to your first visit to the Tragician Blog).

It's hardly a surprise to see the other man carrying Adam off the ground. The bromance between Adam Treloar and Josh Dunkley has been ostentatious. (At times a little 'cringe', as I believe younger members of our community might say). Yet the curious fact is that neither of these Bromance Buddies wanted to play with us at the end of the 2020 season.

Adam was unceremoniously cut from the Magpies' list, and has made no secret of the devastation and pain of being forced out. He speaks often about his ongoing love for his former teammates in black and white, the club as a whole, and its supporters. This didn't stop those famously parochial fans booing Adam in his first match in our colours against them, weird even by their standards since his departure was so far from his own choosing.

But later in that same match, as Adam stood on the wing, a slow rumble of noise built. Collingwood and Bulldogs fans were joining together to clap and cheer him. It was like a protective circle of thanks and goodwill. His new clan and his old clan joining together. A rare and precious moment of care and appreciation.

Coincidentally enough, at the same time as Adam was forced out, his future best mate Josh Dunkley wanted to jettison his contract with us, making a big play to join the Bombres. The reasons were perplexing and obscure to those of us outside the inner sanctum; undoubtedly a huge paycheck was part of the picture, but there were other vague whisperings. Of a loss of love for our club. Disappointment in things that went on inside the covid bubble. And perhaps more understandably, a desire to get more midfield minutes. And (sigh) to not play in the ruck.

Many things were strange and depressing about all of this - to me at least - but none more so than him informing several team-mates of his intention to defect while they were away on holidays. Vice-captain of the club at the time, he was delivering this blow to his skipper, and some of the other best mates with whom he went out into battle on the field every week.

Our club held firm: Dunkley, our youngest premiership player, remained a Dog. For the fans - or perhaps just this one - there was some sort of fracturing in our bond with him, a feeling of distance or caution replacing the usual blind loyalty and clannish protectiveness that we feel for 'Our Boys.' I noticed that, strangely, I now called him Josh Dunkley rather than Dunks, adopting a business-like and detached attitude to him without quite realising why.

I guess we'll never really know what the emotions were, how things played out, or what conversations were held when Josh returned to the club for the first training session. His performances certainly did not show any signs of 'checking out' or any reduction in the fanatical attack on the ball for which Josh is known. Nor did his team-mates show any signs of shunning him for his attempt to leave behind their 'brotherhood' or the implied criticisms or disillusionment that led him to that point.

Despite outdated 'playing for the jumper' rhetoric the players' connections to the clubs they play for are complex and multi-stranded in comparison to the simple and unequivocal loyalty we like to believe in. Last week, Adam Treloar played a blinder against his old club. Pre-match he embraced his former team-mates and friends. Then he set out to clinically destroy their finals hopes and shore up the hopes of his new one. While afterwards, as he received his Robert Rose medal for best afield, he again expressed his love for those he'd left behind - or had chosen to leave him behind.

In the same match a former Bulldog was a solid contributor for the Pies; mercifully he was not booed by our fans. A teenage Patrick Lipinski had attended the 2016 Grand Final decked out in red white and blue; he then fulfilled his dream by being drafted to play alongside those he'd idolised from afar.

But last year he made the pragmatic, realistic decision that his footy career prospects were limited at our club, and slipped quietly away in an unobtrusive transfer to the Collingwood Football Club. Yet Pat still lives with Aaron Naughton; and after the match Bailey Smith ruefully acknowledged that his former team-mate, and still great friend, had hoodwinked him into hand-balling to him inside a pack.

Meanwhile there have been strange twists of fortunes (or should I say misfortunes) of the club that tried to poach Josh Dunkley. This year the Bombres (the Tragician's most despised club, if this REALLY is your first visit to this blog) have slid back to mediocrity after our club (smirk) turfed them out of the finals last year. This continues a remarkable streak where they have failed to win a final since 2004.

A recent mauling at the hands of the Swans has sparked a media storm questioning the commitment, desire and talent of the players. And after footage of their high-paid import Dylan Shiel being mocked, with no retaliation or even the most feeble push and shove by his team-mates, the Bombres' culture was called further into question.

Remarkably the ruthless club with 16 premierships now faces dark nights of the soul, their vitriolic fans loudly questioning - in a delicious irony if you've ever stood wedged in, vastly outnumbered and miserable on the Windy Hill terraces - why they should even bother attending and supporting this rabble! The solution advocated by some - Bring Back James Hird! - is an astonishing reminder that there is so much about the Don-the-Sash mob that I'll never even begin to understand.

Much of the red-and-black outrage has been directed at their captain Dyson Heppell. He has recently told critics of his good-guy persona to 'jam it' and defended the fact that post-defeat, he is seen smiling and joking with team-mates and opponents. He has failed to display the requisite degree of wretched despair.

Heppell has been ridiculed in a cruel video from an account called: 'We are Essington' which intercuts footage of his on-field bloopers with the stirring 'Captain! My captain!' scenes from Dead Poets Society.

Even the Tragician has stopped chortling by now, in fact I'm wincing with embarrassment and even pity. It gets me thinking about how club culture, brotherhood and loyalty are built - or more aptly in the case of the Bombres - brutally destroyed.

For Dyson Heppell, a lifelong Essendon supporter who worshipped James Hird as a child, became an unwitting victim of a chaotic and illegal supplements program, while he was a teenager in just his second year at the club.

His 'idol' was coach at the time.

Along with others, Dyson Heppell was eventually banned for a full year; a terrible toll, when he should have been in his prime as a 23-year-old. The 'drug cheat' stigma will be forever attached to his name.

Something cancerous entered their club, and I can't help but feel it is malignantly connected to the fact no-one rushed to the aid of Dylan Shiel. Doesn't it seem reasonable that the players, even those not directly involved in 'The Saga', may pull back a little? Why would they put on the line the bodies that their club was prepared to gamble with?

I wonder about how our team would have reacted if one of our players had been targeted in the way Dylan Shiel was. I may be just a tad biased, but I believe our club has a robust and thriving culture, nurtured by our empathetic coach, and built by outstanding men and one-club-players who have led our club over the same period when the red-and-black mob descended into the 'whatever-it-takes' darkness. We've been led by Chris Grant, Luke Darcy, Brad Johnson, Matthew Boyd, Bob Murphy and Easton Wood. (Yes I've left one out, but perhaps it proves my point, for the defection of Ryan Griffen rebounded mysteriously in ways that only strengthened our club and arguably caused a chain of events that led to the 2016 flag).

And now of course we have the latest in that series, Marcus Bontempelli. There would be no doubt that with him around the hackneyed phrase 'walking taller' actually means something. His leadership of our club, his care for his team-mates is natural and instinctive, authoritative without being pointlessly macho; The Bont learnt from the best.

In the country-footy-ground atmosphere of Ballarat we could hear the thwack of bodies and observe his greatness, even while clearly injury-hampered. We could see how slowly the Bont got up at times - yet hear his voice urging and organising his team. He somehow willed himself to drag down those last quarter marks and slot those goal that won us the game.

There would be at least one other Bulldog team-mate that you could always rely on to rush in and protect you in the clinches (even if it was, as it so often is, a skirmish that he himself had started). It's been a vintage year for our combative, cheeky, annoying - but to us always loveable Libba, recently pictured wearing a 'Honk for the Dogs' sign in Barkly Street. Maybe it was a result of losing a bet; maybe it showed that the frivolity so frowned upon by the critics of Dyson Heppell is alive and well at the Dogs; but there was something uniquely and mischievously Libba about it as well.

He's probably - ok, definitely - my equal second favourite player at the club!

Meanwhile, with a lump in my throat, I see a tweet from the Collingwood cheer squad.

Congratulations Adzy on 200 games today. The Magpie Army loves you. Thank you for taking care of him WESTERNBULLDOGS.

Beautiful, classy and elegant. And yes. We will.
 

Munnez

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While forwards like Hawkins and Lynch get automatic free kicks as soon as they’re touched. No doubt since their coaches had a discreet word with the umpires. Which is what Bevo will do. Perhaps the ump dept doesn’t think Naughton is illustrious enough yet to deserve protected status.
Or more likely doesn't play for a big enough club to warrant it!!
 

Charlie Bucket

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While forwards like Hawkins and Lynch get automatic free kicks as soon as they’re touched. No doubt since their coaches had a discreet word with the umpires. Which is what Bevo will do. Perhaps the ump dept doesn’t think Naughton is illustrious enough yet to deserve protected status.

They aren’t even discreet about it.

Hardwick, Scott, Hinkley etc regularly chirp up during pressers about these exact things.
 

Dogs_R_Us

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Taking care of our own
In the watery Ballarat sunshine, Our Boys have tenaciously held on for a hard-fought win. Patches of scintillating footy were interspersed with struggles, mistakes and lapses. The toll of injury and illness which has severely battered our team remains evident. And, I sense, the team still hasn't recovered fully from the devastating blow to our psyche of the 2021 Grand Final loss.

Neither has the Bulldog Tragician.

But for the first time this year, we've notched up two consecutive wins, while the injury list finally begins to shrink. Five wins, five losses - all of those losses could so easily have gone the other way.

I'm feeling cautious optimism, watching Our Boys gather near the race, celebrating the win and the 200-game milestone of Adam Treloar.

Aaron Naughton is one of those who hoist Adam onto his shoulders. The Astro-Naut had lived up to his nickname in a brilliant first half. Is there a more exhilarating sight than Aaron on song, where clumps of players in packs merely form a launching pad for him to soar, sometimes so high that he can mark the ball on his chest? You can hear, now, a distinctive sound from the crowd as we anticipate his flight, gasping when he lands safely with the ball in his mitts. Aaron hasn't lost the exuberance of kids when they first fall in love with footy; oblivious of whiteboard strategies and concepts of running patterns, zones and angles, wanting only to take speckies and kick goals.

Aaron has a swagger. Only he could really pull off the white headband look. In fact, he has just about become the Tragician's second favourite player. (If you're in any doubt about the identity of the first, allow me to welcome you to your first visit to the Tragician Blog).

It's hardly a surprise to see the other man carrying Adam off the ground. The bromance between Adam Treloar and Josh Dunkley has been ostentatious. (At times a little 'cringe', as I believe younger members of our community might say). Yet the curious fact is that neither of these Bromance Buddies wanted to play with us at the end of the 2020 season.

Adam was unceremoniously cut from the Magpies' list, and has made no secret of the devastation and pain of being forced out. He speaks often about his ongoing love for his former teammates in black and white, the club as a whole, and its supporters. This didn't stop those famously parochial fans booing Adam in his first match in our colours against them, weird even by their standards since his departure was so far from his own choosing.

But later in that same match, as Adam stood on the wing, a slow rumble of noise built. Collingwood and Bulldogs fans were joining together to clap and cheer him. It was like a protective circle of thanks and goodwill. His new clan and his old clan joining together. A rare and precious moment of care and appreciation.

Coincidentally enough, at the same time as Adam was forced out, his future best mate Josh Dunkley wanted to jettison his contract with us, making a big play to join the Bombres. The reasons were perplexing and obscure to those of us outside the inner sanctum; undoubtedly a huge paycheck was part of the picture, but there were other vague whisperings. Of a loss of love for our club. Disappointment in things that went on inside the covid bubble. And perhaps more understandably, a desire to get more midfield minutes. And (sigh) to not play in the ruck.

Many things were strange and depressing about all of this - to me at least - but none more so than him informing several team-mates of his intention to defect while they were away on holidays. Vice-captain of the club at the time, he was delivering this blow to his skipper, and some of the other best mates with whom he went out into battle on the field every week.

Our club held firm: Dunkley, our youngest premiership player, remained a Dog. For the fans - or perhaps just this one - there was some sort of fracturing in our bond with him, a feeling of distance or caution replacing the usual blind loyalty and clannish protectiveness that we feel for 'Our Boys.' I noticed that, strangely, I now called him Josh Dunkley rather than Dunks, adopting a business-like and detached attitude to him without quite realising why.

I guess we'll never really know what the emotions were, how things played out, or what conversations were held when Josh returned to the club for the first training session. His performances certainly did not show any signs of 'checking out' or any reduction in the fanatical attack on the ball for which Josh is known. Nor did his team-mates show any signs of shunning him for his attempt to leave behind their 'brotherhood' or the implied criticisms or disillusionment that led him to that point.

Despite outdated 'playing for the jumper' rhetoric the players' connections to the clubs they play for are complex and multi-stranded in comparison to the simple and unequivocal loyalty we like to believe in. Last week, Adam Treloar played a blinder against his old club. Pre-match he embraced his former team-mates and friends. Then he set out to clinically destroy their finals hopes and shore up the hopes of his new one. While afterwards, as he received his Robert Rose medal for best afield, he again expressed his love for those he'd left behind - or had chosen to leave him behind.

In the same match a former Bulldog was a solid contributor for the Pies; mercifully he was not booed by our fans. A teenage Patrick Lipinski had attended the 2016 Grand Final decked out in red white and blue; he then fulfilled his dream by being drafted to play alongside those he'd idolised from afar.

But last year he made the pragmatic, realistic decision that his footy career prospects were limited at our club, and slipped quietly away in an unobtrusive transfer to the Collingwood Football Club. Yet Pat still lives with Aaron Naughton; and after the match Bailey Smith ruefully acknowledged that his former team-mate, and still great friend, had hoodwinked him into hand-balling to him inside a pack.

Meanwhile there have been strange twists of fortunes (or should I say misfortunes) of the club that tried to poach Josh Dunkley. This year the Bombres (the Tragician's most despised club, if this REALLY is your first visit to this blog) have slid back to mediocrity after our club (smirk) turfed them out of the finals last year. This continues a remarkable streak where they have failed to win a final since 2004.

A recent mauling at the hands of the Swans has sparked a media storm questioning the commitment, desire and talent of the players. And after footage of their high-paid import Dylan Shiel being mocked, with no retaliation or even the most feeble push and shove by his team-mates, the Bombres' culture was called further into question.

Remarkably the ruthless club with 16 premierships now faces dark nights of the soul, their vitriolic fans loudly questioning - in a delicious irony if you've ever stood wedged in, vastly outnumbered and miserable on the Windy Hill terraces - why they should even bother attending and supporting this rabble! The solution advocated by some - Bring Back James Hird! - is an astonishing reminder that there is so much about the Don-the-Sash mob that I'll never even begin to understand.

Much of the red-and-black outrage has been directed at their captain Dyson Heppell. He has recently told critics of his good-guy persona to 'jam it' and defended the fact that post-defeat, he is seen smiling and joking with team-mates and opponents. He has failed to display the requisite degree of wretched despair.

Heppell has been ridiculed in a cruel video from an account called: 'We are Essington' which intercuts footage of his on-field bloopers with the stirring 'Captain! My captain!' scenes from Dead Poets Society.

Even the Tragician has stopped chortling by now, in fact I'm wincing with embarrassment and even pity. It gets me thinking about how club culture, brotherhood and loyalty are built - or more aptly in the case of the Bombres - brutally destroyed.

For Dyson Heppell, a lifelong Essendon supporter who worshipped James Hird as a child, became an unwitting victim of a chaotic and illegal supplements program, while he was a teenager in just his second year at the club.

His 'idol' was coach at the time.

Along with others, Dyson Heppell was eventually banned for a full year; a terrible toll, when he should have been in his prime as a 23-year-old. The 'drug cheat' stigma will be forever attached to his name.

Something cancerous entered their club, and I can't help but feel it is malignantly connected to the fact no-one rushed to the aid of Dylan Shiel. Doesn't it seem reasonable that the players, even those not directly involved in 'The Saga', may pull back a little? Why would they put on the line the bodies that their club was prepared to gamble with?

I wonder about how our team would have reacted if one of our players had been targeted in the way Dylan Shiel was. I may be just a tad biased, but I believe our club has a robust and thriving culture, nurtured by our empathetic coach, and built by outstanding men and one-club-players who have led our club over the same period when the red-and-black mob descended into the 'whatever-it-takes' darkness. We've been led by Chris Grant, Luke Darcy, Brad Johnson, Matthew Boyd, Bob Murphy and Easton Wood. (Yes I've left one out, but perhaps it proves my point, for the defection of Ryan Griffen rebounded mysteriously in ways that only strengthened our club and arguably caused a chain of events that led to the 2016 flag).

And now of course we have the latest in that series, Marcus Bontempelli. There would be no doubt that with him around the hackneyed phrase 'walking taller' actually means something. His leadership of our club, his care for his team-mates is natural and instinctive, authoritative without being pointlessly macho; The Bont learnt from the best.

In the country-footy-ground atmosphere of Ballarat we could hear the thwack of bodies and observe his greatness, even while clearly injury-hampered. We could see how slowly the Bont got up at times - yet hear his voice urging and organising his team. He somehow willed himself to drag down those last quarter marks and slot those goal that won us the game.

There would be at least one other Bulldog team-mate that you could always rely on to rush in and protect you in the clinches (even if it was, as it so often is, a skirmish that he himself had started). It's been a vintage year for our combative, cheeky, annoying - but to us always loveable Libba, recently pictured wearing a 'Honk for the Dogs' sign in Barkly Street. Maybe it was a result of losing a bet; maybe it showed that the frivolity so frowned upon by the critics of Dyson Heppell is alive and well at the Dogs; but there was something uniquely and mischievously Libba about it as well.

He's probably - ok, definitely - my equal second favourite player at the club!

Meanwhile, with a lump in my throat, I see a tweet from the Collingwood cheer squad.

Congratulations Adzy on 200 games today. The Magpie Army loves you. Thank you for taking care of him WESTERNBULLDOGS.

Beautiful, classy and elegant. And yes. We will.
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doggies ftw

Brownlow Medallist
Sep 22, 2008
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AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Marra reading them much better in the air today than I’ve seen before, has got to a few that haven’t stuck as well as his 4 or 5 marks
 

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