Jordan RougheadTHE great unknown: it was a period of drastic change and disturbance.
At the start of November, we found ourselves in a bit of a pickle down at the Kennel.
No coach, no captain and a raft of experienced players were shaking their collars.
There were a few dark days when some of us were left puzzled, not knowing what was going to happen next.
But what did happen was a beautiful thing and it’s continuing to grow as we go into our opening game of the season just six months later.
One of the challenges of the modern game is achieving balance. Be it the balance between experience and youth, defence and attack, or boldness and caution, it is something that all clubs are trying to achieve.
As we head into our round-one fixture against West Coast on Saturday night, I like to think we have achieved a balance that we can build on.
We’ve appointed a captain who for 16 years has shed blood, sweat and tears for his club in Bob Murphy; a coach who has unified our playing group, supported us to learn through experiment and failure, and forged relationships with numerous assistant coaches, support and administrative staff; and, reinvigorated a relatively inexperienced playing group by creating our own style of play, aimed at allowing us to trust our instincts, to do the things that helped us get to the big league in the first place.
But it hasn’t been without its challenges.
Our chief executive officer Simon Garlick has moved on, our 2014 best and fairest Tom Liberatore has gone down, and we have made headlines for different reasons along the way.
Saturday night is the first chance we have to put that all behind us.
The magnificence of football is that once you cross that white line, nothing else matters, and if things go wrong, you get that chance again seven days later.
While the classic footy cliches get thrown around like confetti at a wedding at this time of year – “our new recruits are flying”, “Brehaut is tearing up the track” – there is a trepidation that raises its head in the lead-in to round one.
Not a fear exactly, but an excited anticipation to see just how far we can take it, to see how far we’ve come.
Despite everything that has transpired in the past six months, this Saturday night, nothing but the pigskin matters.
• Western Bulldogs vice-captain Jordan Roughead was drafted from North Ballarat Rebels in the 2008 AFL Draft and made his AFL debut in round five, 2010. Roughead played his junior football with Lake Wendouree.
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