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  1. #1
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    History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    If you like suffering and subscribe to The Mongrel Punt, well...

    https://themongrelpunt.com/footy-his...iminary-final/

    It’s a good story...about a bad game.
    What should I tell her? She's going to ask.

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    Re: History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    PicsArt_04-23-01.26.27-759x500.jpg

    97 Prelim


    I’m not sure any Western Bulldogs fan, or any Footscray fan will ever get over the events of 1997. Whether they were adults or kids… it doesn’t matter. If you bring up the Preliminary Final against the Adelaide Crows, you can see them visibly recoil, as though the mere mention of that game has caused an involuntary emotional reaction.

    It is a scar that has never fully healed.

    “I still can’t watch it,” said one Doggies supporter. “When I hear someone mention it, the memories come flooding back.”

    He looks down and away, then shakes his head.

    “We should have won that one.”

    Is there a worse feeling than having something you’ve longed for within your grasp, tantalisingly close, only for it to be snatched away? And does it make it worse knowing that you’re responsible for allowing it to slip away?

    The Western Bulldogs should have met St Kilda in the 1997 AFL Grand Final. They should have ended a long Grand Final drought 19 years before they raised the premiership cup against the Sydney Swans in 2016.

    But they didn’t.

    It was the Adelaide Crows who ran over the top of the Dogs, with Malcolm Blight swinging the changes at half time and the Crows riding some powerful contested marking from Nigel Smart, some midfield grunt from Mark Bickley, a sign of things to come from Tyson Edwards, and a blistering burst of Darren Jarman forward-craft to snatch the victory. An Adelaide team full of self-belief made their way into their first ever Grand Final, and defeated St Kilda to win it all.

    They were a team of destiny, fuelled by a coach who was, fair to say, a little bit left of centre. And they got inside the heads of the Bulldogs players. It was self-belief versus self-doubt, and there can only ever be one winner in such a contest.

    Where did things go so right for the Crows? And where did things go so wrong for the Bulldogs? Was it the coaching genius of Blight, or a flaw in the coaching of Terry Wallace? Was it the adoption of tactics to save the game, or the dare demonstrated to win it that was the catalyst for one of the greatest victories in Adelaide history, and perhaps the most devastating loss in the lives of Dogs supporters everywhere?

    It was the 1997 AFL Preliminary Final. It was the day the Crows grew up. It was the day the Dogs fell over. And it remains one of the greatest games, with one of the greatest stories, in the history of the AFL.

    There had to be a winner and there had to be a loser. And their stories have to be told.

    Here is the Mongrel Punt’s oral history of one of the most famous Preliminary Finals of the modern era.
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  4. #3
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    Re: History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    No thanks.
    The curse is dead.

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    Re: History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    I'm probably not on my own, but 2016 erased a lot of the pain and anxiety related to THAT prelim.

    Not only because we won the whole shebang but the way we did, against the odds, the ball bouncing our way at the right moment, injuries healing just in time...it was the antithesis of everything we've ever known as Bulldogs supporters, almost like divine reward for generations of punishment.
    Our 1954 premiership players are our heroes, and it has to be said that Charlie was their hero.

  7. #5
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    Re: History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    1997 was traumatic. It was either the birth of the monkey on our back, or the day it became a gorilla. Depends how much of the Drought you lived through.

    The Flag That Wagged slit that gorilla's throat. I don't hurt as much as I did over 97 any longer. Comrade summarises why pretty well in the post above. 2016 PF had all the hallmarks of another desperately sad PF failure, dream run over, bitter AFL manaufactured rivals go forth and prosper while we rue the could haves, should haves and what nots. But then it didn't.

    When I watch the game again, I feel like Adelaide's performance and dominance after 1/2 time is often downplayed. They were just too good when it counted. Chris Grant offered some perspective on Open Mike years ago. That helped too.

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    Re: History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    Quote Originally Posted by comrade View Post
    I'm probably not on my own, but 2016 erased a lot of the pain and anxiety related to THAT prelim.

    Not only because we won the whole shebang but the way we did, against the odds, the ball bouncing our way at the right moment, injuries healing just in time...it was the antithesis of everything we've ever known as Bulldogs supporters, almost like divine reward for generations of punishment.
    Yep 2016 was so perfect it healed basically everything before it.

    In hindsight I am so glad we screwed up 1997 and 98 particularly, as i would have been too young to appreciate it and it always would have been a premiership I was aware of but never really owned as a supporter. Even 2008-10 for all the pain and tears it caused at the time just makes the 2016 victory more satisfying and builds it up to the ultimate. All our failures just made our success more monumental, satisfying and enjoyable.
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    Re: History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    Quote Originally Posted by SonofScray View Post
    1997 was traumatic.
    See - the game itself obviously sucked but I bounced back pretty quickly...because I was just so sure that 98 would be our year. Then we started so well in 98 - so well - and I seriously could not imagine anyone beating us.

    And then - like that - it was over. And the '98 prelim just seemed so - PREDICTABLE - as it was happening. And we got flogged from the first bounce to the last bounce as Adelaide steadily pulled away. Weird finals system back then as well - I am sure we finished second but played West Coast (7th) in the first final...and won by 90 points or something. Then had a week off. And it was preliminary final week. It just all seemed upon us so quickly.

    Anyway - back to the subject. The 97 team remains my favourite. Succeeding when no-one expected us to do so, winning pretty much every week, every other side hating us because of the whole Libber/Jose stuff...and gave a good account of themselves on Prelim day and seriously *COULD* have (not 100% on should have) won.
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    Re: History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    Quote Originally Posted by mjp View Post
    The 97 team remains my favourite. Succeeding when no-one expected us to do so, winning pretty much every week, every other side hating us because of the whole Libber/Jose stuff...and gave a good account of themselves on Prelim day and seriously *COULD* have (not 100% on should have) won.
    It was an incredible season with the team playing some exceptional footy. We had some big quarters kicking 7 or more on many occasions and Chris Grant the best KPP in the AFL.

    Go back and watch some games and you can see how attacking we were. We also had some shockers during the season , like Sydney at the SCG, but we got them back in the first final.

    A great season that could have been.
    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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    Re: History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    Quote Originally Posted by mjp View Post
    See - the game itself obviously sucked but I bounced back pretty quickly...because I was just so sure that 98 would be our year. Then we started so well in 98 - so well - and I seriously could not imagine anyone beating us.

    And then - like that - it was over. And the '98 prelim just seemed so - PREDICTABLE - as it was happening. And we got flogged from the first bounce to the last bounce as Adelaide steadily pulled away. Weird finals system back then as well - I am sure we finished second but played West Coast (7th) in the first final...and won by 90 points or something. Then had a week off. And it was preliminary final week. It just all seemed upon us so quickly.

    Anyway - back to the subject. The 97 team remains my favourite. Succeeding when no-one expected us to do so, winning pretty much every week, every other side hating us because of the whole Libber/Jose stuff...and gave a good account of themselves on Prelim day and seriously *COULD* have (not 100% on should have) won.
    97...I was convinced we would beat St Kilda the following week (I still vividly remember the sun on my face at half time on the top deck of the GSS thinking this very thing)

    I remember reading The Age the morning of the 98 prelim and saw one of the journos tipped Adelaide and for some reason got very nervous - and I was also not convinced we'd beat North the next week should we progress.

    I recall we got within a few goals in the 2nd quarter in 98, but were so pitifully bad just before half time and for the rest of the game. Smith at CHB!
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    Re: History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    Quote Originally Posted by mjp View Post
    See - the game itself obviously sucked but I bounced back pretty quickly...because I was just so sure that 98 would be our year. Then we started so well in 98 - so well - and I seriously could not imagine anyone beating us.

    And then - like that - it was over. And the '98 prelim just seemed so - PREDICTABLE - as it was happening. And we got flogged from the first bounce to the last bounce as Adelaide steadily pulled away. Weird finals system back then as well - I am sure we finished second but played West Coast (7th) in the first final...and won by 90 points or something. Then had a week off. And it was preliminary final week. It just all seemed upon us so quickly.

    Anyway - back to the subject. The 97 team remains my favourite. Succeeding when no-one expected us to do so, winning pretty much every week, every other side hating us because of the whole Libber/Jose stuff...and gave a good account of themselves on Prelim day and seriously *COULD* have (not 100% on should have) won.
    We had camping chairs packed in the car with us when we drove to the train station to go to the 98 prelim, that's how confident we were.

    I was 13 for the 97 prelim. I did not take it well. I was dead silent from the final siren until about 3 hours after we got home. Not. One. Word.

    And yet when I went back to school on the Monday people were genuinely sympathetic, they knew how much I loved the dogs and how I would have been feeling.

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  16. #11
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    Re: History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    Premierships are so hard to get (we should know) that I still can't help feeling cheated about both 97 and 98. Having never watched 97 again I was amazed when my son told me that he had, and that we were in front for all but the last two minutes of the last qtr, when the horrific mixup between Grant and Hudson in the goal square happened.

    98 we were the best team in the competition for so much of the year, but I remember a match that should have flashed danger signs. We blitzed WCE in Perth in the first quarter kicking 8 goals (I'm pretty sure we were undefeated). Commentators were gushing that we were monties for the flag. But then without a whimper they slammed on eight goals and actually led us at half time. It's fair to say Terry Wallace's teams lacked a Plan B for when other teams made a run.

    As fans we always get an opportunity to wait for another flag but so many really good players never got to experience a premiership. If we'd overcome the Crows that day in 97, having survived their challenge and Grant getting his toe to the ball in the goalsquare, and then running all over the Saints the next week - I have always wondered if some of our later finals history - our poor showings in 08-10 - might have been averted.
    www.bulldogtragician.com A blog about being a lifelong fan of the Dogs and our quixotic attempt to replicate 1954. AND WE DID
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  17. #12
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    Re: History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    Quote Originally Posted by comrade View Post
    I'm probably not on my own, but 2016 erased a lot of the pain and anxiety related to THAT prelim.

    Not only because we won the whole shebang but the way we did, against the odds, the ball bouncing our way at the right moment, injuries healing just in time...it was the antithesis of everything we've ever known as Bulldogs supporters, almost like divine reward for generations of punishment.
    Yeah I feel/felt the same way. I'd always felt we were somehow pre-determined to have the bad luck, and probably thought the saints had it the same way. When that ball bounced away from Stephen Milne in the 2010 grand final - i thought to myself "If he played for Hawthorn, that would have bounced straight to him, but a saints or dogs player - it goes the other way through the behinds...."

    2016 has changed my feeling in this way. Certainly for that year anyway - we seemed to catch all the breaks.

  18. #13
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    Re: History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    I missed this prelim and also the 1992 prelim as I was living and working in Asia. I listened to both matches on the short wave radio (those days) - so disappointing.

    Of all the prelims in my years of watching the Dogs, 1997 was the only one that I can truly say we threw away.

    1985, and 2009 were tough contested matches and could have gone either way, 1992, 1998, 2008 and 2010 we lacked a couple of players that could have made the difference.

    Hopefully there are more 2016s as it was the best time of my life.
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

  19. #14
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    Re: History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    I missed this prelim and also the 1992 prelim as I was living and working in Asia. I listened to both matches on the short wave radio (those days) - so disappointing.

    Of all the prelims in my years of watching the Dogs, 1997 was the only one that I can truly say we threw away.

    1985, and 2009 were tough contested matches and could have gone either way, 1992, 1998, 2008 and 2010 we lacked a couple of players that could have made the difference.

    Hopefully there are more 2016s as it was the best time of my life.
    I reckon we threw 1985 away unnecessarily as well. Michael Egan (who missed with injury) would never had allowed Leigh Mathews the space that Hardie gave him in the last quarter. Megan would have worn him like a glove.
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    Re: History of the ‘97 Prelim.

    Without 1997, 2016 wouldn't have been as incredible as it was. If we'd won the prelim in 97, who knows what trajectory the club takes...

    Maybe we lose the week after and crumble in a heap, maybe we win and become a force. Things would have changed dramatically, that I'm sure of. Maybe Gordo doesn't come back, maybe we don't draft Bont.

    It is a true sliding doors moment and without it, we wouldn't be the same club we are today. So all in all, I'm pretty happy it's turned out how it has*


    *I'd feel much different had 2016 not happened, but it did so there.
    Our 1954 premiership players are our heroes, and it has to be said that Charlie was their hero.

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