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  1. #1
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    This is The Year of the Dogs

    by Bob Murphy




    A football club's history is a delicate balance. There is a wafer-thin line between romance and baggage. I once wrote that the elusive second premiership for the Bulldogs loomed as the biggest carrot in the game. Four years on, my view hasn't changed (although I would be sensitive to acknowledge claims from the Saints).

    The romance surrounding my football club these past couple of years has been undeniable. At times it's felt quite magical. Outsiders in so many ways, the Bulldogs' rise has captured something that's very hard to describe. But I can feel it, and I know I'm not alone.



    All of a sudden so many years of heartbreak and longing look to be behind us. The sunshine is breaking through the clouds, warming the faces of the clan.
    But what about the balance? Where does this leave the 22 players who will take the field on Saturday?
    The Western Bulldogs are a family. They're my family. But like all families there is pain, hurt and damage done from the hard years. Too many hard years.
    I'm told my club has an ancestral link to Scotland. There's a clan who know a thing or two about the ripple effect of defeat. For all of my club's glorious romance of survival and the spirit of working-class heroes, the scars of our past are visible like the thousands of lochs on a Scottish map.



    With only one premiership in 91 years there are far too many of our clan who feel disgruntled, bitter or unfulfilled. Some have left, never to return.
    There has been many poignant moments these past couple of years, but one that keeps coming back to me happened on our recent trip to Perth for the elimination final against the Eagles. In the euphoria of victory in the rooms, everywhere you looked were familiar faces of our clan returned.




    Past players and administrators from different eras often join in after the game in the rooms to say hello and share a few yarns, but this felt different. Like sons and daughters of the west coming home. It gave me pause to think, "this could heal our football club".
    Since that night, the wins against the odds have kept coming, and with each week that feeling I had in the Subiaco rooms feels like it's grown and grown. Our clan is uniting and the pain is fading.



    At the end of last season I spoke publicly about the fact our club was bruised at the end of 2014. But the reality is we were merely nursing the freshest batch of bruises. Like a Scottish loch, some of these waters run deep.
    So this brings me to our boys. Our custodians of the jumper. All year people have asked me how we'll handle the pressure of the next big game.

    I've tried to explain with varying degrees of success that en-masse we are an uncomplicated group. That doesn't mean simple, only that these Bulldogs have a gift for simplifying things.
    With a musical bent, we have some virtuosos with classical training. But for the most part this is a garage rock band. Tell us when the game starts, we'll plug in and crank it up to 11.

    I wouldn't regard the group as unromantic because at times we've shown ourselves to be full of heart, emotion and sentimentality. But once the emotions are purged we move on. It's only my take on it, but it seems to be the right mix for playing with reverence, without being weighed down by the pain of the past.

    My family has a big dance booked for Saturday. It feels like the most anticipated grand final in recent memory, but my lot this year means I won't get to lead my boys out in front of the Bulldog clan. That's my little loch that I shall keep locked.
    I can't run – not the way I want to anyway – so I join the circle that protects those who can. This circle doesn't need to run, we just have to wait. If we win, we get to walk to the Footscray Town Hall like the heroes of '54. I can walk just fine.

    But look at me, getting all romantic, momentarily losing my balance. The flip side of the coin is how hard it will be to get our hands on the cup. Sydney will fight us to the line. And if my club's footprints can be traced all the way back to Scotland, we shouldn't forget the Swans were packed up and shifted north less than half a lifetime ago. My Bulldogs don't have the market cornered when it comes to romance.

    It's now I'm reminded of another line, a wholly unromantic one from the most unlikely of places – Hollywood. From the movie Moneyball, and its lead character Billy Beane: "If you don't win the last game of the year, who gives a shit?"
    More than ever we need to keep our balance if we're to reach the top of the mountain. Only then will we look down on all of those lochs born of tears, and know the wait is over.
    Last edited by bornadog; 02-10-2016 at 11:37 PM.
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

  2. Thanks Eastdog, redders70 thanked for this post
  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    EJ Whitten Stand
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    Re: This is The Year of the Dogs

    Carn the Dogs!
    AFL PREMIERS 2016

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    24,731
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    Re: This is The Year of the Dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    Tomorrow's Front page for The Age by Bob Murpy




    A football club's history is a delicate balance. There is a wafer-thin line between romance and baggage. I once wrote that the elusive second premiership for the Bulldogs loomed as the biggest carrot in the game. Four years on, my view hasn't changed (although I would be sensitive to acknowledge claims from the Saints).

    The romance surrounding my football club these past couple of years has been undeniable. At times it's felt quite magical. Outsiders in so many ways, the Bulldogs' rise has captured something that's very hard to describe. But I can feel it, and I know I'm not alone.



    All of a sudden so many years of heartbreak and longing look to be behind us. The sunshine is breaking through the clouds, warming the faces of the clan.
    But what about the balance? Where does this leave the 22 players who will take the field on Saturday?
    The Western Bulldogs are a family. They're my family. But like all families there is pain, hurt and damage done from the hard years. Too many hard years.
    I'm told my club has an ancestral link to Scotland. There's a clan who know a thing or two about the ripple effect of defeat. For all of my club's glorious romance of survival and the spirit of working-class heroes, the scars of our past are visible like the thousands of lochs on a Scottish map.



    With only one premiership in 91 years there are far too many of our clan who feel disgruntled, bitter or unfulfilled. Some have left, never to return.
    There has been many poignant moments these past couple of years, but one that keeps coming back to me happened on our recent trip to Perth for the elimination final against the Eagles. In the euphoria of victory in the rooms, everywhere you looked were familiar faces of our clan returned.




    Past players and administrators from different eras often join in after the game in the rooms to say hello and share a few yarns, but this felt different. Like sons and daughters of the west coming home. It gave me pause to think, "this could heal our football club".
    Since that night, the wins against the odds have kept coming, and with each week that feeling I had in the Subiaco rooms feels like it's grown and grown. Our clan is uniting and the pain is fading.



    At the end of last season I spoke publicly about the fact our club was bruised at the end of 2014. But the reality is we were merely nursing the freshest batch of bruises. Like a Scottish loch, some of these waters run deep.
    So this brings me to our boys. Our custodians of the jumper. All year people have asked me how we'll handle the pressure of the next big game.

    I've tried to explain with varying degrees of success that en-masse we are an uncomplicated group. That doesn't mean simple, only that these Bulldogs have a gift for simplifying things.
    With a musical bent, we have some virtuosos with classical training. But for the most part this is a garage rock band. Tell us when the game starts, we'll plug in and crank it up to 11.

    I wouldn't regard the group as unromantic because at times we've shown ourselves to be full of heart, emotion and sentimentality. But once the emotions are purged we move on. It's only my take on it, but it seems to be the right mix for playing with reverence, without being weighed down by the pain of the past.

    My family has a big dance booked for Saturday. It feels like the most anticipated grand final in recent memory, but my lot this year means I won't get to lead my boys out in front of the Bulldog clan. That's my little loch that I shall keep locked.
    I can't run – not the way I want to anyway – so I join the circle that protects those who can. This circle doesn't need to run, we just have to wait. If we win, we get to walk to the Footscray Town Hall like the heroes of '54. I can walk just fine.

    But look at me, getting all romantic, momentarily losing my balance. The flip side of the coin is how hard it will be to get our hands on the cup. Sydney will fight us to the line. And if my club's footprints can be traced all the way back to Scotland, we shouldn't forget the Swans were packed up and shifted north less than half a lifetime ago. My Bulldogs don't have the market cornered when it comes to romance.

    It's now I'm reminded of another line, a wholly unromantic one from the most unlikely of places – Hollywood. From the movie Moneyball, and its lead character Billy Beane: "If you don't win the last game of the year, who gives a shit?"
    More than ever we need to keep our balance if we're to reach the top of the mountain. Only then will we look down on all of those lochs born of tears, and know the wait is over.

    I thought I saw Bob out training with the group at the open session. I asked a couple of people if it was him and they said no. I knew it was him.
    Get yourself a suit and tie
    And get your hair cut way up high
    Get yourself a lawyer, son
    You're gonna need a real good one

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East of the West
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    3,962
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    Re: This is The Year of the Dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by Twodogs View Post
    I thought I saw Bob out training with the group at the open session. I asked a couple of people if it was him and they said no. I knew it was him.
    Yeah it was definitely Bob. He was right in front of us. A very light/token session, but it warmed the cockles.

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