It took only two years for Luke Beveridge to take the Western Bulldogs from a club on the brink to the envy of the competition.
If you return to the start of the 2015 season, the Bulldogs were on their knees and unsure of the path ahead. With a host of young talent and a handful of experienced players, the Bulldogs began to stack up a few wins early in the year.
A win in Round 1 against the Eagles at Docklands was a surprise given the circumstances but by the time Round 4 had come and gone the Dogs were sitting 3-1, with the solitary loss coming against the reigning premiers, and Beveridge’s men were growing in confidence.
But none of them expected what was to come.
Each week, Aflplayers.com.au will bring to light the perspective of someone at the heart of a memorable moment from a game played between two sides before their upcoming clash.
It was the game that paved the way for the Bulldogs’ finals appearance in 2015 and their subsequent premiership triumph the following year.
When Beveridge, Bob Murphy and their troops flew to Sydney to take on the Swans juggernaut, they did so with 10 different players from when they played their Round 23 clash in 2014 — the last game before their coach stepped down and their captain left the club.
But the Dogs had a newfound confidence and after letting the Swans kick the first two goals of the game, they piled on the next five to finish the quarter with 5.1 and 14 points ahead before the rain began to tumble down.
The next two quarters were as even as it gets as the Dogs held onto a 11-point lead at half and three-quarter time, while the rain continued to wreak havoc.
Fans and viewers waited for last year’s Grand Finalists to wrestle back momentum in classic Bloods’ fashion and their predictions weren’t wrong as Sydney kicked the first two goals of the last quarter to take the lead for the first time since the opening quarter.
But between the 14 and 24-minute marks, both teams failed to score before an Easton Wood toe-poke on the goal-line put the Dogs back in front.
From there, the young Bulldogs hung on to record one of the greatest wins they’d been a part of. It was a turning point for the previously rebuilding club and skipper Murphy said the game was important for their run to the 2016 premiership.
“It’s probably the most memorable game I’ve ever been a part of,” Murphy told Aflplayers.com.au.
“A lot of that is due to how much we respect Sydney and what they’ve done for so long. I felt our belief building before that game but that day is when it hit home that the world was different.
“It was probably the moment that the team and our club thought we might be potentially a challenger down the road. It just so happened that 18 months later it happened.”
Sure enough, the two sides would meet again on Grand Final day in 2016 and it’s fitting the Bulldogs would accomplish one of the greatest premiership triumphs in AFL history against the side that helped them believe they were capable.