Original rules, round 22 – the case for love


We move into the finals this week for the 107th time and countless nosepicking drivers across Melbourne are weighing up the permutations and salivating at the possibilities as the blossom fills their streets of springtime and the ground maintenance crews down at the MCG prepare the sacred arena for another chapter of its epic destiny. But as the straining juggernaut chokes the world’s most edible city I find I just can’t stop thinking about The Bulldogs.

What a pyrrhic 50th anniversary of their one and only flag in 1954 this year has turned out to be! What a smear the behaviour of both the current team and the current administration has been on hallowed, technicoloured names of ’54 such as Henderson, Donald, Nuttall, Gallagher, Abbey, Duffy, Bryden and Stockman, who played their hearts out in brilliant & successful sunshine for the dishlickers all those years ago.

Not to mention Jack Collins, who bagged a grand final record of 7 goals that day, and the garrulous EJ, who stood tall on the verdant swards at centre-half-back. And who could forget of course, the inspiration behind it all, that keg of a captain-coach, Charlie Sutton.

The anniversary celebrations this year started out alright, with the big function for all the ’54 Immortals, and Charlie Sutton appearing on the Footy Show to prove that jocularity and charm are not mutually exclusive, but thanks to the Unhelpful Geniality of the CSIRO-style coach, Peter Rohde, the pathetic lack of craft on behalf of the players (their misadventures in front of goal this year have made Richo look like a sharpshooter), the garbling and bitter Braybrook baloney of a slowly Dismantling Doug Hawkins, the outrageous & hypocritical mudslinging by the most undisciplined Brownlow Medallist of all time, Brad ‘Oink Oink’ Hardie – fancy him having the gall! – and the Macchiavellian backdooring of the only octogenarian to boot 100 goals in a season, Simon Beasley – well, by August the morale out at Whitten Oval was in deadset tatters.

Then, with what can only be described as Accepted Corporate Practice (ACP), the President, the Haughty Condescender himself, David Smorgon, abandoned any pretence of ethics by knifing the very coach he’d sworn to support, axing him midstream, after only two years ago BLEATING about Terry Wallace breaking his contract with The Dogs, thereby proving that the ‘spade a spade’ working class ethic that the club had survived on for so long, was no more.

But then, if all that wasn’t bad enough, last week The Condescender is captured on camera sittting in the stands with newly appointed coach, Rocket Eade, as meanwhile his team battle it out under a melancholy but stoic Peter Rohde for the 4 points! Man Oh Man, is that not a new low in footy, is that not heinous behaviour that makes Eddie McGuire look like Kofi Annan? It’s like making love with your first wife while your second wife’s filing her nails by the door!

Of course, Smorgo is getting around like a triumphant pimp having procured the club a supposedly great coach (Eade’s record: no premierships. His legacy: invention of the flood), but let’s face it, to bind that club back together after the goings-on this year (of all years!) will take more than a football intellectual like Eade (just quietly, ask Adam Goodes what he thinks of Rocket). No, Eade’s magnetic board & analytical accoutrements won’t save The Bulldogs, nor will Smorgon’s filthy lucre or aristocratic glare, priority draft picks won’t save ’em, and neither will an upgrading of facilities.

Recent studies by the Mangowak Football Academy have shown that a strong, binding spirit, aka: LOVE, within a football club is worth approximately 6 goals a game across an entire season. Our Thinktank Scientists have proven after thorough research that without love in the orbitofrontal cortex, a footballer develops a ‘virtual black hole’ up in the area of the noggin which produces inordinate amounts of a hormone called cortisol that, in turn, causes monumental skill errors and slapstick-style stuff-ups. This, in turn, causes weeping and a loss of hair.

In other words, in football, as in life, LOVE is the crucial ingredient. It is the fundament and wellspring of all good feeling and success, the very ground upon which one walks, and without it, poor old Charlie Sutton, and EJ, if he’s looking down from the Larrikin’s Pantheon on high, and all the other great Doggies of 1954, are destined to watch their beloved club headed for the footballing scrapheap.

May Your Stab Passes Be Crisp,

DJ G’Day

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.