Tears flowed freely from the faces of Western Bulldogs players. It was not because they were injured, nor was it because they failed to grasp the opportunity to sit outright second on the ladder. The tears flowed for the agony of a wounded teammate, wailing in despair knowing his season is over and the chance to make history all but ended.
With hearts the size of Phar Lap, the Western Bulldogs have been able to warn off any challengers that have come their way. Whether it was the season ending knee injury to skipper, Bob Murphy, the tear of the hamstring to Jason Johannisen or the bust up between teammates, Tom Boyd and Zaine Cordy, the Bulldogs have fought and won every battle, captivating the footballing public in the meantime.
But has the Bulldogs hopes of winning the clubs second ever premiership ended with the single snap of a leg?
Football can sometimes be a cruel game. In 2005 Richmond won seven of their first nine games to sit third on the ladder. During this period, star forward; Nathan Brown was in career best form, featuring predominately in the Coleman medal race, with 32 goals.
But in a cruel blow, Brown suffered a horrific broken leg against Melbourne in Round 10. The injury ended Brown’s season and dented the Tigers hopes of playing finals as the club won only three more games for the season.
This week, Richmond legend, Matthew Richardson admitted that the Brown injury had affected the entire playing group and was one of the reasons for the Tigers slide in form.
It is too early to tell whether Mitch Wallis’s injury will have the same affected as that of Brown’s on the Richmond playing list, but what remains certain is that the Bulldogs have the leadership, mentality and talent to help the club reach success this season.
Led by Dale Morris, Matthew Boyd and Easton Wood, the Bulldogs have leaders who can help the younger members of the squad move through these tough times, by focusing on the task ahead.
As seen after the Murphy injury in Round 3, it has been the young guns such as Marcus Bontempelli, Caleb Daniel and Jake ‘The Package’ Stringer who have taken on the added initiative and have become match winners.
The love shared between the senior coach and his players will also have a positive impact on the Bulldogs premiership push. At this weeks press conference Luke Beveridge fought back tears while discussing Wallis’s injury, showing that he, like his players was affected by the incident but will continue to put on a brave face and focus on what the club can achieve.
We have already seen in 2016 that underachievers can achieve glory through adversary, evident by the Leicester City fairy tale. With a team full of players that have been discarded from big clubs and a coach who has had his reputation tarnished by failing to achieve success with big name teams, the Foxes were able to edge out the billion dollar clubs to win the English Premier League.
The time is right for Bulldogs success and so far the club has ensured they have every chance of winning this years premiership flag. Injuries are a factor that cannot be controlled by the club. But what the Bulldogs can control in winning and that is what will aid them in their quest for success.