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  1. #1
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    How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

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    The Western Bulldogs' upset of ladder leader Geelong on Saturday night might well prove a significant moment in the club's modern history. It might also provide an interesting bit of contrast.

    It was around the same time in 2016 that the Dogs, fighting to prove their finals credentials, also took on the Cats.

    It was an evening which threatened to be their undoing, not only losing the game by 25 points, but in the process also losing Tom Liberatore and Jack Macrae to injury, coming on top of injuries the previous week to Dale Morris, Matthew Boyd, Mitch Wallis, Matt Suckling and Jack Redpath.

    If there was a tipping point for the Dogs, this had to be it. But of course, just a couple of months later, they'd end up walking off the MCG having won one of the game's most amazing premierships.

    Three years on, there would be considerable irony in the Bulldogs knocking over the best team in the competition but not even reaching the final eight for a third season since that momentous flag.

    But the game moves on fast these days. And whether the Dogs make it, or at least set themselves for a decent crack at 2020, it will be with a squad that is dramatically different. Another ascent by the Western Bulldogs, even with enough of the same players, won't be a revival of 2016, but a whole new story.

    It's a remarkable transformation on a number of fronts, none the least that the 2016 premiership team was one of the youngest in modern football history. But injuries, pressures from beyond the playing field, fluctuations in form, can all make the life of an AFL player, or the continuation of an era for a team, more problematic.

    There are 15 players from that premiership 22 for now still officially on the Bulldogs' books. But Tom Boyd, who had struggles with mental health issues, and Liam Picken, who fell victim to repeated concussions, have retired.

    So on Saturday night against the Cats, there were only nine members of that grand final team on the ground. Some of the drivers of the win were the same, Marcus Bontempelli as brilliant as ever, Lachie Hunter, Jack Macrae and Josh Dunkley prolific.

    What was around them, however, was significantly different. Up forward was a new group of goalkicking targets in Aaron Naughton, Josh Schache and Sam Lloyd. In defence were three cast-offs from others clubs, Jackson Trengove, Hayden Crozier and Taylor Duryea.

    And supplementing all that, a tribe of precociously-talented kids - Bailey Smith, Patrick Lipinski, Bailey Williams, Ed Richards, Roarke Smith and ruckman Tim English.

    CONNOLLY: How many of the Western Bulldogs are better players now than during their 2016 Premiership?

    As a young, still-raw playing group, they're still prone to ups and downs. Already this season, the Bulldogs have had strings of four and three consecutive losses.

    But their conquests have been notable, the win over Geelong the best yet of wins against opponents including Sydney, Hawthorn, Richmond, Brisbane and Port Adelaide - four of those rivals top-eight teams. And whether or not the Dogs play finals in 2019, you'd think they'll be there again sooner than later.

    Interestingly, numbers on their own don't suggest such a radical transformation in the Bulldogs' profile since the 2016 flag.

    Saturday night's team had an average age of 24 years 202 days and an average games experience of 82.4. The averages for that 2016 premiership side were 24 years 144 days and 82.1 games, as close enough to exactly the same. Which, in a way, is an even bigger tribute to coach Luke Beveridge.

    There's scarcely been a premiership team in history which didn't rightfully expect to at least stay around the mark for a while after winning a flag. The Bulldogs of three years ago weren't old, and weren't overly banged-up, so the expectations for them were no less.

    But Beveridge's smartest move post-premiership might well prove to be recognising pretty early in the piece that, as they say, the band wasn't going to be getting back together.

    There were calculated gambles taken by allowing the likes of Joel Hamling, Jake Stringer, Luke Dahlhaus and Jordan Roughead to venture elsewhere. All of that quartet have to date prospered at their new destinations, too, which gives the critics a free whack when the Dogs don't perform well.

    There were unexpected departures in Tom Boyd, Shane Biggs and Clay Smith, all of whom retired, in terms of age, prematurely.

    Thus the senior list has continued to keep turning over, 11 players in the past two-and-a-half seasons having been handed AFL debuts. There's another half-dozen on the list still to see senior action. But Beveridge, clearly, won't shy from picking them if he believes they're ready.

    Most flag-winning teams, if they don't end up having a decent crack at repeating the effort, spend at least three or four years waiting with crossed fingers for things to click back into gear. That's something no one can accuse Beveridge and his Bulldogs of having done.

    If the Bulldogs don't end up making this year's final eight, they will become the first team since Hawthorn of 1979-81 to miss out on finals the next three seasons after having won a premiership. On those statistics, you can argue that it's been a considerable fall from grace.

    But the Dogs were always in unusual territory. A team which finished the home and away rounds of 2016 seventh on the ladder, then wheeled out a month of superlative football good enough to beat any opponent above them.

    It's become a touchy subject for some Bulldog fans, who feel that achievement doesn't get enough kudos and that compared to other premiership teams, theirs is marked harshly.

    But the great irony is that their coach's early recognition not only that theirs was a special case which was far from certain to be sustained, but that the AFL ladder is far more fluid now than even a few years ago, could end up actually having them closer to their next premiership than might otherwise have been the case.
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

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  3. #2
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    Re: How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

    Very good article from RoCo
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

  4. #3
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    Re: How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

    Since when was Roarke Smith a precociously talented kid?
    "I'll give him a hug before the first bounce and then I'll run into my pack and give them orders to rip him apart."

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    Re: How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

    The highlight of Roarke's career might be his inclusion in that sentence with that group of players.
    QUALITATIVE SHEEN

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    Re: How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

    I dunno. Weird article. We’re 12th on the ladder.

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    Re: How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

    Quote Originally Posted by MrMahatma View Post
    I dunno. Weird article. We’re 12th on the ladder.
    The article ignores a few things :
    1. Our vfl side had great depth and we won also that year . Will Minson smashed it in the final , Jong got BOG and outmarked spuds like wiedermann , I reckon our player development was very good that year. Even Campbell was threatening to make the grade. Koby Stevens was hard nut in the midfield . Suckling was kicking clutch goals a game until he got injured

    2. Big outs : clay and picken . 2 warriors who are hard at it and put fear into sides
    3. Biggs had a sensational year and Morris was unbelievable battle injured soldiering on
    4. Question : is Cordy actually. A decent non- marking bring to ground Chf ? Is he a better forward than back ?
    5. M.Boyd was in AA form and had that toughness
    6. Our Ruck duo roughead and t.Boyd stayed on park and matched it against most single side ruckman
    7.thirdman up rule did not exist and our handball club innovation

    Wtf were we doing perisiting with honeychurch ?

    Not sure about Roark smith being mentioned as Super talented ...? No offence to him as I would love for him to make it

    Some players cannot play dual positions , so stop wasting our game momentum and chance of comeback .
    Our rise up the ladder will be when kids like green , Ferguson and porter threaten to be selected every week and looking to out some of the seniors .
    Look at kids geelong have blooded in last 2 years ? Henry , Myers , atkins ,Ragulea , Kelly even constable etc...

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  11. #7
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    Re: How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

    Quote Originally Posted by MrMahatma View Post
    I dunno. Weird article. We’re 12th on the ladder.
    It's a bit revisionist as well. We've been rightly criticised for our failed seasons in 2017 and 2018, and in what is currently a negative season of 7-8 he is asserting that everything since the premiership has all been part of some master plan.

    I'd have waited for us to make finals in 2019 before penning such a leap of faith article.
    "You've got no fear of The Underdog, that's why you will not survive"
    - Spoon, 2007
    - Western Bulldogs, 2016

  12. #8
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    Re: How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

    Quote Originally Posted by SquirrelGrip View Post
    Since when was Roarke Smith a precociously talented kid?
    Any kid that makes an AFL list could be regarded as precociously talented.

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  14. #9
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    Re: How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

    Quote Originally Posted by Doggy View Post
    Any kid that makes an AFL list could be regarded as precociously talented.
    Dalrymple described him as a task driven player when we drafted him which to me doesn't quite fit the standards for being 'precociously talented'.

    He's got a bit to prove


    And supplementing all that, a tribe of precociously-talented kids - Bailey Smith, Patrick Lipinski, Bailey Williams, Ed Richards, Roarke Smith and ruckman Tim English

    We couldn't find a home in the seniors for Lipinski in the early part of the season and Williams is still unsigned for 2020 and I don't believe contract negotiations have even started yet.

    It's a fair article from RoCo and the balance of the season is ripe for us to shape expectations. The ball is in our court
    Tough times don't last, tough people do
    "He'll accumulate and be involved, but we're looking a qualitative sheen on his game that we need, and it is part of our scope to score"

  15. #10
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    Re: How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

    I'm over this narrative.

    "It's become a touchy subject for some Bulldog fans, who feel that achievement doesn't get enough kudos and that compared to other premiership teams, theirs is marked harshly"

    No dogs fan I know thinks this way Rohan. Possibly the opposite. It was the greatest ever (we all know why). Essendon cheated its way to two, that's what would make you touchy.

    I won't go over it again, but the only version of touchy is the projection of media and in this case ex media types onto dogs' supporters.

    I'm touchy about being called touchy !!

  16. #11
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    Re: How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

    I've still got the club song ringing in my ears from the weekend. Can't hear what anyone else is saying about our team....
    "We've got to be good in the phone box, and good in the tardis" - Pearls of wisdom from Luke Beveridge.

  17. #12
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    Re: How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

    Quote Originally Posted by Ghost Dog View Post
    I've still got the club song ringing in my ears from the weekend. Can't hear what anyone else is saying about our team....
    Red, White and Blue! We'll come up...


    Sorry, did someone say something?
    WOOF NUMBER 6

  18. #13
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    Re: How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

    Quote Originally Posted by Grantysghost View Post
    I'm over this narrative.

    "It's become a touchy subject for some Bulldog fans, who feel that achievement doesn't get enough kudos and that compared to other premiership teams, theirs is marked harshly"

    No dogs fan I know thinks this way Rohan. Possibly the opposite. It was the greatest ever (we all know why). Essendon cheated its way to two, that's what would make you touchy.

    I won't go over it again, but the only version of touchy is the projection of media and in this case ex media types onto dogs' supporters.

    I'm touchy about being called touchy !!
    This is all I ever hear from opposition supporters that I know - how our 2016 flag was a complete fluke, a Bradbury premiership, and that the AFL conspired with the umpires to gift us the premiership. Then they use our lack of success since as further evidence to their argument.

    It is pure jealousy - the green eyed monster pumped up to 11.
    Footscray member since 1980.

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  20. #14
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    Re: How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

    Has he written this article purely because our age and games of experience are nearly identical to that of the Premiership side...and we just won a game?

    It's an odd piece of writing.

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  22. #15
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    Re: How Luke Beveridge treated 2016 Premiership side may end up being his greatest move of all

    Quote Originally Posted by Flamethrower View Post
    This is all I ever hear from opposition supporters that I know - how our 2016 flag was a complete fluke, a Bradbury premiership, and that the AFL conspired with the umpires to gift us the premiership. Then they use our lack of success since as further evidence to their argument.

    It is pure jealousy - the green eyed monster pumped up to 11.
    Glorious isn't it. I would love another one in the next three years just to make sure we are truly hated.

    It's what happens when you start winning premierships. I for one will never tire of opposition supporters saying we fluked that flag rather than saying 'yeah poor Bulldogs, you know they're my second team... '
    One of the great moments in life is the sense of space and time you feel between taking a hanger and touching back down.

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