How To Tell The Bulldogs Apart, Part The Last
The final installment of our (very) rough guide to the Western Bulldogs. Today, players 36-44.
36. Brian LakeSo laid-back he can seem catatonic. A top-notch defender who had us all on tenterhooks last year when he took forever to re-sign his contract and we were scared he was going to go elsewhere. Seldom smiles. Even on his wedding day he looked bemused rather than happy. Every so often Bri-bri makes a mistake so spectacularly stupid it puts even Wilbur in the shade. Not often though. Rodney Eade loves to yell at Brian; they have some weird love/hate thing going on.
38. Dale Morris
The other pillar of the backline. Known as "The General," his organising ability was sorely missed when he was out with the flu in Round 1. Played with a broken leg for six weeks last year. How tough is he??
42. Liam Picken
The fairy-tale success story of last season, the overlooked son of a Collingwood star was picked up as a rookie by the Bulldogs and instantly cemented his place in the side as a hard tagging midfielder who could shut down opposition players for a whole game. Very useful.
44. Brodie Moles
Looks as if he might become this year's Liam Picken. Picked up from Geelong where he couldn't manage to break into a strong side, he seems to be fitting in nicely with the Bulldogs. From Cat to Dog? Stranger things have happened.
And last but not least -- the coach!
Rodney Eade has coached the Doggies since the end of 2004 and has turned the team from bottom-scraping stragglers to a proud and (more) confident squad. "Rocket" doesn't hold back his emotions and is always a treat to watch in the coaches' box, especially when things are going badly. But he's refreshingly upfront with his opinions, tells it like it is, is often funny, and is a supremely clever football tactician (even a genius) who has shaped the way the game is played. We love Rocket. But we're glad he's not around to give us one of his famous sprays when we stuff up.
So there you have it -- the individual parts that add up to the whole team that is the Western Bulldogs. One of the things I find fascinating about football is the way that players and coaches come and go, but clubs somehow retain their own over-arching personality. Do players learn how to be a Bomber or a Blue, or is the personality of the club composed of the sum of the individuals who reside beneath its roof? I'm inclined to think it's the former.
So if the Western Bulldogs was a person, what would they be like? I see him (yeah, it's a bloke, get over it) as the shy, self-deprecating guy in the corner of the pub, perhaps a tradie, from the rough end of town, very good at what he does but wary of big-noting himself. He's used to being put down by the flashy blokes with more cash, and the boofhead blokes with more muscle and swagger, and he's learned to keep quiet and keep his head down. He might be clumsy, he might say the wrong word at the wrong time, but he means well. If he lets you down, it's because he's trying too hard. He's had a hard life, he's known disappointment and betrayal, and he doesn't trust easily.
But maybe, just maybe, this is his year to find some cash in his pocket. Maybe, come September, he'll be shouting us all a beer.