Year of the Dogs

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Year of the Dogs
Directed by Michael Cordell, Stewart Young
Produced by Michael Cordell,
Chris Hilton
Written by documentary
Starring Alan Joyce
Tony Liberatore
Stephen Wallis
Terry Wallace
Chris Grant
Pat Hodgson
Jenny Hodgson
Peter Gordon
Release date
1997 (Australia)
Running time
86 minutes
Country Australia
Language English

Year of the Dogs is a 1997 documentary detailing the 1996 season of the Footscray Football Club (now Western Bulldogs).


Filmed during the turbulent 1996 season where they finished second-last (15th) in the Australian Football League, the documentary follows the club and two dedicated fans, Pat and Jenny Hogson. The Bulldogs have a horror run of losses; senior coach Alan Joyce is sacked and replaced by Terry Wallace. The Dogs continue to struggle under this change in coaching administration, and continue to lose games.

With a thin supporter base, the club is under numerous financial difficulties. The AFL CEO Ross Oakley is insistent that smaller AFL clubs must merge and the Dogs are under pressure to amalgamate with other clubs. After the Melbourne Hawks merger failure, the club's members vote strongly against any proposed merger. In the end a taskforce of businessmen and former players take over the club to ensure its future. The club president (Peter Gordon) resigns.

In addition to this, youngest player (Shaun Baxter) is fighting cancer and the club veteran, Stephen Wallis, knows his playing days are numbered.

For the last game for the season, Footscray play Essendon. Wanting to give their retiring player, Wallis a good send off, they play hard and put up a good performance, but end up losing narrowly in a closely played game.

For the next season, the Bulldogs are renamed the Western Bulldogs (a name they still carry to this day) in an effort to attract new members. The film showcases the club's battling spirit, and as an aside they escape a merger with Fitzroy (although Fitzroy were the club that did suffer that fate, being merged with Brisbane). After Wallace's performance as caretaker, he is signed on for the 1997 season.


  • It was filmed in 1996 during the course of the season and released theatrically in 1997, ironically when the Bulldogs were having one of their best seasons and later narrowly missed making the Grand Final, losing to eventual premiers Adelaide by just two points.
  • The film won an AFI award for "Best Editing in a Non-Feature Film" (Stewart Young).

Box Office[edit]

Year of the Dogs grossed $199,191 at the box office in Australia.[1]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]