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  • Topic: Western Bulldogs, Australian Football League, 1954 VFL Grand Final
  • Pages : 7 (1563 words )
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  • Published : December 3, 2012
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eason Summary

Footscray opened the 1954 season looking anything but a Premiership contender, being beaten by both St Kilda and Richmond in the first two rounds.
Then, buoyed by the return from suspension of spearhead Jack Collins in round three, Footscray crushed the unbeaten South Melbourne by 87 points to score the first of six straight wins.
Collins had an immediate impact on the Dogs' fortunes. He kicked eight against South Melbourne and had an incredible nine on the board by half-time in the following round against Carlton.
When rain fell during the second half, Collins was needed in the ruck to help save the game and, as a result, the Bulldogs hung on to win by 11 points. Collins did not add to his nine-goal haul.

One more would have seen him equal what was the club record of ten goals in a match.
Despite a 4-point defeat to Geelong at Geelong (round nine)- a venue that was never a happy hunting ground for the Bulldogs- Footscray maintained their hold on top position on the ladder.
The Bulldogs remarkably had a win-loss-win-loss-win-loss-win-loss sequence in rounds 8-15. As the season came to an end, the results of each game became more critical in a very even competition.

The Dogs broke the win-loss sequence in round 16 against fellow finals candidates, North Melbourne, at Arden Street, albeit by drawing a match they should have won.
North managed to kick 2 goals, 1 behind in the dying minutes to level the scores and the resultant draw pushed the Bulldogs down the ladder to see them precariously placed in fourth position.
A great victory over Essendon at Windy Hill in the next round restored Footscray's confidence with the win lifting the Dogs to second place on percentage from North Melbourne.
A soft win over Hawthorn in the last round, handed Footscray the double chance for the first time in the club's history. The Bulldogs finished with 11 wins, 1 draw and 6 losses, and second spot on the ladder. After all 18 rounds, the final four, in order was Geelong, Footscray, North Melbourne and Melbourne.

Footscray's opponent in the 2nd Semi-final was Geelong, a team that had played in the last three Grand Finals, winning two Premierships. Geelong had defeated the Bulldogs in the 1953 Preliminary Final.

Even though the Bulldogs were missing their captain, Charlie Sutton, they were now a better equipped and more experienced unit than in the previous season.
Vice-captain Wally Donald acted as stand-in skipper. Despite going into the game as underdogs and the scores being tied at three quarter time, Footscray won by 23-points (11-19-85 to 8-14-62), with Collins kicking four and Harvey Stevens and Peter Box playing starring roles.

The Grand Final Lead Up

Seats were at a premium owing to the re-construction of the Northern Stand, reducing the ground's capacity to barely 80,000 for Footscray's first historic appearance in a VFL Grand Final (the MCG was undergoing re-building maintenance in readiness for the 1956 Olympic Games).

The weather bureau predicted some showers on the day but, after overnight rain, football followers were greeted to a magnificent day by sunshine beating down and the rain staying away. Ground conditions were perfect for football.

Most supporters started arriving as early as 6:00am on Grand Final day to queue for the seats. The huge queue's prompted officials to open the gates and start selling tickets at 9:00am, an hour earlier than normal.

By 10:30am, the entire top tier of the outer stand was filled to capacity as an estimated crowd of 40,000 had already crammed into the ground. Half an hour before game time, the people took up vantage points between the fence and the boundary line.

During the game the ball and players quite often ended up over the boundary line and among the spectators.
Footscray went in as favourites, and newspapers estimated 80% of the crowd was behind them.
Melbourne were...
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