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  1. #1
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    Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star



    Bob Murphy

    At the risk of over-reaching, Marcus Bontempelli is a football Moses. With Easter approaching, Jesus Christ wouldve been a more topical biblical reference, I know, but he walked on top of water. Moses famously parted the sea with his will and thats what Marcus can do on a football field. Only its opposition defenders that he waltzes through and not the Red Sea.

    A few years back when I played alongside Marcus, he routinely divided the chaos of opposition players with his poise and loping run. From a few feet away I would watch in awe as Marcus won the ball and then, as if striding in waist-deep water, would slowly move out of the chaos and into open space with opposition players falling away to either side. For those couple of seconds, the disciplined, clicking, rhythm of time would almost liquefy and morph into glue. Its a rare gift.

    We knew we had a special one at the Bulldogs almost as soon as he got to the club. He was pick No.4 in that years draft, so there was a natural expectation and curiosity when he arrived. Some of us older players at the time had heard the jousting that had gone on behind the scenes about which player the club would take with the coveted pick. The sliding doors of footy clubs and their fortunes.

    Within a couple of weeks of his first pre-season, I overheard a teammate say the first three players picked in that draft must go OK! Theres nothing like training and competing up close with a young player to get a feel for what they might become and to a man, we all felt that this kid could be anything. A better way to describe it might be the shudder of fear that rippled through the club when we thought he wrecked his knee in that first Summer at the kennel. Bonti was doing some one-on-one competitive marking work with lockerroom favourite Jack Redpath and they were both redlining it. In one aerial duel, Bonti landed awkwardly and hyperextended his knee. Initially the fear was hed done his ACL. Poor old Jack was scolded by the coach, then Brendan McCartney, for going too hard! The fear of a serious injury was heightened because of Bontis natural gifts. Mercifully, the knee was OK.

    As a young player, his legend quickly grew. By the time he wrestled the ball, ducked and weaved between Demon opponents in his debut season and kicked a goal over his shoulder on his opposite foot to win the game, he went from Bonti to The Bont. A small but telling detail. His first couple of seasons were tortured ones for the Bulldogs, but he quickly became a shining light, a football prophet in waiting. In many ways, he single-handedly represented hope. After one of the many hidings during this time, at Marvel Stadium in a Sunday twilight blockbuster, there was an after-match function for players, staff and families. I was still icing up in the rooms below and unbeknownst to me, my wife was struggling in the lift with three little kids and a double pram. Marcus just happened to be there as the doors opened and stepped in to help. He asked how Justine was and then also about the kids. All by name. Maybe insignificant, but we never forgot it.

    By the time I became captain in 2015, it was pretty clear that The Bont was our best player. One thing I used to do was hang around the lockerroom straight after the Monday team review meeting. Players, now with their guards down and a little bit braver to speak up, would shoot the breeze about the video clips wed just gone through with the coaches. I would busy myself with a pointless task of re-lacing my footy boots, while listening to the conversations going on. Most weeks, I observed teammates of Marcus whispering to each other about his exploits from the game just gone. Our lockerroom was always loud, crass and hilarious. Like many lockerrooms, I suppose. The whispers of awe were saved for only one player in my time, and that was Marcus.

    During this time people would sometimes ask me what he was like and I told them he was our Ferris Bueller. We all adored him, he was a righteous dude.

    One of the difficult things in writing about Marcus is that he is a winner. There has been no major injury, certainly no scandal and very few questions about him as a player that he hasnt already answered. If there are challenging times ahead, I have little doubt hell navigate his way through it with his signature poise and class. The set shot on Sunday was significant because it was one of the few question marks that remained. He couldve played on. He couldve passed the ball to wind the clock down. But he didnt. He slowed things down. Knowing Marcus as I do, I think he had wanted this moment to cross that question mark off the list. He turned the question mark into an exclamation mark.

    The fascinating complexity of Marcus, as I see him, is his combination of humility and a genuine curiosity about how good he could be. Thats not always an easy wire to walk if you are the leader. In just a few years, hes gone from Ferris Bueller to a football prophet. A football Moses. Whatever or whoever he becomes next, Im sure of only one thing: hell do it in his own time.

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  3. #2
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    Re: Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    One of the best players I have ever seen, if not the best
    FFC: Established 1877
    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: Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    One of the best players I have ever seen, if not the best
    I think he will be the best by the end. I desperately hope negotiations to keep him ours forever are well advanced.
    www.bulldogtragician.com A blog about being a lifelong fan of the Dogs and our quixotic attempt to replicate 1954. AND WE DID
    Author of "The Mighty West: the Bulldogs journey from daydream believers to premiership heroes"
    Twitter @bulldogstragic

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    Re: Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    One of the best players I have ever seen, if not the best
    Quote Originally Posted by The bulldog tragician View Post
    I think he will be the best by the end. I desperately hope negotiations to keep him ours forever are well advanced.


    If he stays on this progression I will have to stop banging on about Kelvin Templeton.
    We should get sushi Carol

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  7. #5
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    Re: Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    Quote Originally Posted by Twodogs View Post
    If he stays on this progression I will have to stop banging on about Kelvin Templeton.
    Never heard of him, have you ever mentioned Kevin on here before?

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    Thumbs up Re: Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    Quote Originally Posted by Axe Man View Post
    Never heard of him, have you ever mentioned Kevin on here before?
    I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned him once or twice. I don't want to be accused of gilding the lily about how good he was though so often I won't bang on incessantly about his Brownlow or his Colemans or his century goalkicking or the time he kicked 15 goals in a game or his iron grip marking and long range kicking and dominating matches even though I feel duty bound to point his achievements out.
    We should get sushi Carol

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    Re: Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    Quote Originally Posted by Twodogs View Post
    If he stays on this progression I will have to stop banging on about Kelvin Templeton.
    Sweet merciful crap.

    I never, EEEEEEVER, thought you'd ever have someone overtake Templeton.

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    Re: Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    Quote Originally Posted by westdog54 View Post
    Sweet merciful crap.

    I never, EEEEEEVER, thought you'd ever have someone overtake Templeton.
    Yep. The Bont is that good.
    We should get sushi Carol

  13. #9
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    Re: Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    Quote Originally Posted by Twodogs View Post
    If he stays on this progression I will have to stop banging on about Kelvin Templeton.
    Its alright for you Td, I will have to change my name to MB4.
    "Lord, give me coffee to change things I can change, and whisky to accept the ones I can not.

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    Re: Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    This week has all the hallmarks of a massive bed shitting session.

    Lots of positive press, articles like this - as much as I relish them - and North being at $9 almost makes me think we're in for a tough game tomorrow.

    As for the Bont, he's just so good to watch in the flesh. Because he's so big he looks slower than he is due to the massive steps that he takes. There were a couple of instances where he showed pure burst speed in the last quarter on Sunday and the other mids couldn't keep up with him. And given his kicking was ON rather than OFF (there's little in between with him sometimes which is something he can improve upon) it was an amazing display to witness.

    I reckon Murph has undersold the troubles he's had with his hip and other niggles these past few years. He's clearly laboured at times and still managed to reach All Australian standards. That takes a lot of hard work and mental resilience. If he can stay injury free he'll sit alongside the greatest of the greats I think, particularly if he's lucky enough to play in another flag or two (which increases a player's legacy, a lot of the time unfairly - see Matthew Pavlich).

    As for him being the best Dog I've seen? Not sure. I'd still have Grant ahead of him at this stage, and think Grant could have been an amazing midfielder if the era he played was different. But that's just me, in thinking Grant is the most underrated player of all time, yet one of the best.

  16. #11
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    Re: Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    Quote Originally Posted by jeemak View Post
    This week has all the hallmarks of a massive bed shitting session.

    Lots of positive press, articles like this - as much as I relish them - and North being at $9 almost makes me think we're in for a tough game tomorrow.

    As for the Bont, he's just so good to watch in the flesh. Because he's so big he looks slower than he is due to the massive steps that he takes. There were a couple of instances where he showed pure burst speed in the last quarter on Sunday and the other mids couldn't keep up with him. And given his kicking was ON rather than OFF (there's little in between with him sometimes which is something he can improve upon) it was an amazing display to witness.

    I reckon Murph has undersold the troubles he's had with his hip and other niggles these past few years. He's clearly laboured at times and still managed to reach All Australian standards. That takes a lot of hard work and mental resilience. If he can stay injury free he'll sit alongside the greatest of the greats I think, particularly if he's lucky enough to play in another flag or two (which increases a player's legacy, a lot of the time unfairly - see Matthew Pavlich).

    As for him being the best Dog I've seen? Not sure. I'd still have Grant ahead of him at this stage, and think Grant could have been an amazing midfielder if the era he played was different. But that's just me, in thinking Grant is the most underrated player of all time, yet one of the best.
    Agree. I'm nervous, based on our flakiness since 2016.
    Quite simply, if we've anything other than pretence to offer in 2020, we need to step up tomorrow and get it done.
    If we do then conversation turns to the Lions as to where we can further demonstrate our growth or otherwise.
    A pretty compelling couple of weeks ahead for us to give we fans an indication as to whether we're growing or showing similar frailties that have hobbled us in recent years.
    As for where the Bont sits...Grant was my guy...but Bont has a higher ceiling..whether he reaches that time will tell, in fact this year could tell

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    Re: Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    Quote Originally Posted by Yankee Hotel Foxtrot View Post
    Agree. I'm nervous, based on our flakiness since 2016.
    Quite simply, if we've anything other than pretence to offer in 2020, we need to step up tomorrow and get it done.
    If we do then conversation turns to the Lions as to where we can further demonstrate our growth or otherwise.
    A pretty compelling couple of weeks ahead for us to give we fans an indication as to whether we're growing or showing similar frailties that have hobbled us in recent years.
    As for where the Bont sits...Grant was my guy...but Bont has a higher ceiling..whether he reaches that time will tell, in fact this year could tell
    Yeah to me tomorrow doesn't need to be fancy, it doesn't need to be overly convincing. It just needs to be done. However which way we can we just need to grind to three wins. Get to the game in Ballarat and try and grind out another win.

    There's another eighteen rounds after these next two for us to develop our game and cohesion in a refreshed but imperfect group. But if we can grind out two wins then we are in such a good launching position for those eighteen rounds.

    Bont is key, as usual. Having a genuine top of the game superstar supported by a swathe of guns is what Richmond has and I want us to be them.

  18. #13
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    Re: Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    Quote Originally Posted by jeemak View Post
    Yeah to me tomorrow doesn't need to be fancy, it doesn't need to be overly convincing. It just needs to be done. However which way we can we just need to grind to three wins. Get to the game in Ballarat and try and grind out another win.

    There's another eighteen rounds after these next two for us to develop our game and cohesion in a refreshed but imperfect group. But if we can grind out two wins then we are in such a good launching position for those eighteen rounds.

    Bont is key, as usual. Having a genuine top of the game superstar supported by a swathe of guns is what Richmond has and I want us to be them.

    It is a long season, and time to grow. But i think the time has come for the acid to be applied.
    I don't mind if it's a close game tomorrow if it is due to North stepping up. What I think we need to demonstrate is that we don't make it close due to us flubbing our lines.
    We've had enough time, we've made enough personnel moves. We either are moving our team closer to our goal or we are just repeating the false dawns of 19 and 20.

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    Re: Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    Quote Originally Posted by Yankee Hotel Foxtrot View Post
    It is a long season, and time to grow. But i think the time has come for the acid to be applied.
    I don't mind if it's a close game tomorrow if it is due to North stepping up. What I think we need to demonstrate is that we don't make it close due to us flubbing our lines.
    We've had enough time, we've made enough personnel moves. We either are moving our team closer to our goal or we are just repeating the false dawns of 19 and 20.
    I think with the last two years we all got a bit seduced by what a developing side could do to scrape into the finals. Some good footy was played, but it was pretty ordinary a lot of the time and I think that was because our group was developing and displaying inconsistency in effort, skills and application/ discipline typical of developing groups.

    Agree with you and others that now is time for the acid to be poured on to us. While there's some new faces the core has had its years to develop together, learn the coach's messages, play in finals it wasn't ready for on the day, and figure out what it takes to be a good team. Yes a finals win is an improvement, yes a push towards top four should be the aspiration. But I don't want to worry about hallmark statements of that being the case, I just want a side that competes consistently and grinds and grinds and grinds out results. Nobody asks you to draw a picture at the end of the season to articulate how many you have won, they just want to know the end result. That's all I care about with this group.

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    Re: Hes not the Messiah, hes the Bont: How we knew Bontempelli would be a star

    Quote Originally Posted by jeemak View Post
    As for the Bont, he's just so good to watch in the flesh. Because he's so big he looks slower than he is due to the massive steps that he takes. There were a couple of instances where he showed pure burst speed in the last quarter on Sunday and the other mids couldn't keep up with him. And given his kicking was ON rather than OFF (there's little in between with him sometimes which is something he can improve upon) it was an amazing display to witness.
    He covered almost 15 kilometres on Sunday and still had enough left not only to sprint to the pocket when we won the turnover but also to convert the set shot.

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