I don’t know quite why, but I was half barracking for the Swans yesterday. Then the siren went and they had lost and I was glad. Suddenly I was really happy for the Bulldogs and all their supporters, to the point I was feeling emotional. Deep inside I knew that the right thing had happened: the Bulldogs had won. It was just right.
It was a pretty good game. Sydney did not get out to a fast start, which was so important. I had a mate at the game, a Bulldogs supporter, who was texting me throughout. At quarter time I told him I thought the Doggies were favourites. He wasn’t quite as sanguine, but was glad to hear it.
The Bulldogs took it up to the Swans. Their intensity crowded the Swans and disrupted their game. They took their chances and had the better of the first quarter, and took a lead into the second.
In the second quarter the Swans came at them. For about 15 minutes they controlled play as the Bulldogs intensity waned. At half time it looked like the professionalism of the Swans might prevail. It wasn’t to be though.
Though it stayed close up to the last 10 minutes it was the Bulldogs that had the better of it. They were clearly the better team all day, and had they been more efficient in the second half they might have had it won sooner. All the same, they took a lead into the last quarter and it was hard to see them being beaten. That’s how it turned out. As expected they finished the better and took out the game.
This could be the start of something for the Bulldogs. They’re a young team, they have quality players returning next year from injury, Plus the addition of Crameri – so stiff and unfortunate to have missed this (one of the banned 34). Boyd really showed his chops yesterday, and it’s mooted that Cloke will join them next year. Their biggest weakness is converting opportunities, and Crameri will help with that, and in Cloke they have a meaningful target.
I think we’re seeing a shift in power. The Bulldogs will be around for a few years, and the GWS will be prominent. I think the Swans will hang about because they have some good youngsters, but mid top 8. Hawthorn are fading. They won’t drop away suddenly, but decline. Their best players are their most experienced, and 4-6 of them will be retiring in the next 2 years. I expect they’ll be out of the 8 by 2018. I never really rated the Cats, and think they’re in trouble. They’re another team facing an exodus of retirees, and are way too reliant on Dangerfield and Selwood. I think they’ll drop out of the 8 next year, as will North Melbourne.
The movers next year will be Melbourne, St Kilda and Essendon. Melbourne have been building, and have some great youngsters. St Kilda have constructed a good list and are well coached. They also have the makings of an excellent spine. So do Essendon – potentially the best spine in the competition with the return of Hurley and Hooker. And they have some very promising young players, on top of first pick in the national draft this year.
Q quick note on the Bulldogs coach, Luke Beveridge. He’s much lauded, and rightly so. He’s a very, very good coach, and a top bloke. I’ve had a bit of a man crush on him for a while, and I’m not alone. He’s an attractive character – honest and authentic, sensitive and compassionate. He’s one of those rare figures I can look at and believe is a true role model.
Yesterday his legend grew. Yes, he coached the Bulldogs to their first premiership in 62 years. That’s in the history books now, and will never be forgotten. It’s what he did after the game which will be remembered just as long. In front of a crowd of 100,000 he called to the podium the injured captain of the club, the iconic Bob Murphy and, taking his premiership medallion from around his neck, presented it to Murphy. It’s a moment will live on in Australian sporting folklore, and sums up Beveridge very well.