Bulldogs early-season bolters
Footy fans live in perpetual hope, but fans of some clubs are all too familiar with the gulf between hope and expectation. If you’re a Hawthorn fan, you have expectations. St Kilda fans generally have to make do with promises. Three rounds into the 2016 season, the historic balance of hope shows signs of shifting. With traditional powerhouses Collingwood, Richmond, Essendon and Carlton all looking more like basket cases, Footscray (aka the Western Bulldogs) are one of the early-season bolters. Casting off their traditional battler tag, coach Luke Beveridge has his young team playing a frenetic brand of footy that pushed reigning premiers Hawthorn to the brink on Sunday afternoon.
Even though they lost at the last gasp, this felt like a big step forward for a young team on the charge. Having easily had the Bulldogs measure in previous seasons, the Hawks will now be on notice.
But with hope there is always the risk of disappointment, and there was no bigger disappointment than the season ending knee injury to Bulldog skipper Bob Murphy. One of the most popular players in the league, Murphy was within sight of a personal 300 game milestone that will now await his decision as to whether he plays on next year. His loss presents a leadership challenge to a young team.
So, Doggies fans, are you daring to dream? With a record of one premiership 1954, one other Grand Final loss in 1961, and six Preliminary Finals defeats since 1985, will this be the year you finally return to the Grand Final stage?