Why the Bulldogs will win their first flag in 56 years
Surviving in a losing culture on the non-yuppie side of Melbourne must be hard to stomach - decade after decade.
Imagine barracking for a club for more than 50 years and never winning a premiership. Nasty. But Western Bulldogs’ fans are still waiting for the glorious moment they dream of.
With ordinary facilities in the past, and having fans without big wallets like the late Richard Pratt, how can a team expect to match it with the affluent Melbourne clubs of the east?
The salary cap has shaped the AFL in a way where the chance for glory is more equitable. However, some would argue that the system is not equitable, knowing there are some third-party cash deals behind the scenes.
The Bulldogs has come a long way when they played at the ageing Western Oval. How can you foster excellence and a competitive spirit when players train in an ordinary environment?
Well, the Bulldogs wised up and recruited a team of highly intelligent leaders, who have planned methodically. They are football people who intimately know the mechanisms of success – on and off the field.
Bulldogs chief Campbell Rose is one determined executive who has worked day and night to help create a winning culture. And Rodney Eade, a product of the great Hawthorn premiership coach Allan Jeans, has been exposed to the very best environments that football offers.
With a determined board and leadership group, the Bulldogs’ make-up is very different to its past. There are great plans for the west, giving the Bulldogs an environment which creates excellence.
Barry Hall’s arrival at the Bulldogs was considered by many a risky move. It was like big bad Bazza, with a history of aggressive brainsnaps, was given a “wildcard” to revive his career.
Well, the move has already paid off, with Hall bringing in significant interest – and loads of cash – into the club. It’s the injection that the tough outfit from the west needed.
Hall has already proved himself a valuable asset. He played match-winning roles in the last two NAB Cup games, helping to set up the Dogs in the grand final this Saturday.
Hall’s performance in the grand final will prove crucial, as the Dogs needed some serious marking power – and accurate kicking – up forward.
The Bulldogs’ team balance is excellent, and Eade knows how to manoeuvre the players to create good ball flow.
There is no reason why the Bulldogs can’t win the NAB Cup and also the AFL premiership this year. But first, the club has to shake off its loser mentality.
Its greatest threat is St Kilda, which is looking strong at ground level this season. The Saints want to avenge their 2009 Grand Final loss to Geelong – and they are highly motivated.
But can big Bazza prove the difference between the two sides? Hall’s confidence is high – and he will no doubt be targeted in the grand final – but his marking power under pressure could be the Dogs’ ticket to grand final success.
It’s been a long time coming.
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