The 'old duck' out to lead new breed of Dogs to glory

Coming into 2021, the NAB AFL Women's competition has Unfinished Business. Following the abrupt cancellation of the 2020 season at the end of March as COVID-19 restrictions hit the country, players are keen to make up for lost time. As well as the competition as a whole, each player has their own personal Unfinished Business. In a video and text series, womens.afl will speak to a variety of players about their aims for the upcoming season. 

AT THE TENDER age of 26, tenacious midfielder Kirsty Lamb says she's one of the "old ducks" of the Western Bulldogs' AFLW squad.

After winning the flag in 2018, expansion hit the club hard, with the likes of AFLW best and fairest Emma Kearney, captain Katie Brennan and winner of the 2018 Grand Final best-on-ground medal Monique Conti all moving on.

Throw in number one ruck Aasta O'Connor and eventual North Melbourne best and fairest Jenna Bruton, and a fair bit of talent walked out the door during the 2018 and 2019 trade periods.

Unfinished Business: Kirsty Lamb

02:27 Jan 21. 2021. 9:51 AM

Just as the game plan clicked for the Bulldogs, the 2020 season was cut short.

"Occasionally we catch ourselves referring to them as the kids, because they still are kids," Lamb told womens.afl.

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"Now I'm a little bit older, and there's a few of us who have played together for four years, versus the girls who have only played together for a year or two, so I definitely have to take on that leadership role a bit."

A NEW TEAM OF THE MIGHTY WEST

Along with a new coach in Nathan Burke, the Dogs have brought in 14 fresh players over the past two years, just two of whom – Ash Guest and Dani Marshall – are over the age of 20.

It made for a rocky 2020 season, winning round one against St Kilda (in its first ever AFLW match) and losing their remaining five.

AFLW Match Highlights: St Kilda v Western Bulldogs

04:40 Feb 9. 2020. 5:16 PM

The Saints and Bulldogs clash in Round 1 of the AFLW

"We definitely want to improve our win-loss record, I think we've … lost more than we've won, even though we managed to win a flag, so I think we won most of our games in that year and we lost most of them in the years surrounding that," Lamb said.

"We just want to play some consistent footy and play the style we've been practicing all pre-season.

"We've definitely got some unfinished business from the Bulldogs' perspective. We're not really overly impressed with how we've played over the last couple of years on the back of winning the flag, so the goal is to make it all the way through and win the flag. Definitely."

Western Bulldogs' win-loss record

Year

Wins

Losses

2017

2

5

2018

5

2

2019

2

5

2020

1

5

Total

10

17

 

'THE BEST EVER GAME OF AFLW'

Coming into round six of the 2020 AFLW season – what would prove to be the Bulldogs' last due to COVID-19 – there was a David v Goliath battle brewing.

The Dogs had been overrun by Collingwood in the previous round, conceding eight goals, and had lost to lowly West Coast the week prior.

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Meanwhile, opponents Fremantle were flying, fresh from knocking off Brisbane, who were the only other undefeated side at the time.

What followed at Whitten Oval wasn't witnessed by locked-out fans, but with a record aggregate score of 117 points (8.3.51 to 10.6.66), both sides put on a freewheeling show, with the Dockers only pulling away late to defeat the plucky Bulldogs.

AFLW Match Highlights: Western Bulldogs v Fremantle

07:24 Mar 15. 2020. 7:34 PM

The Bulldogs and Dockers clash in Round 6 of the AFLW

"We didn't have anyone in the crowd, so that was a bit foreign for us, but it was quick, probably one of the quickest games of AFLW I've played," Lamb recalled.

 "I just remember constantly 'handball-receive kick, handball-receive kick'. Women's footy is a little slower-paced than men's, and there are more stoppages, but it just didn't feel like there were any throughout the game. 

"It was quick, and we were spent by half-time, but geez it was fun playing that brand of footy, so I hope we can continue that moving forward.

FOLLOW THE LEADER Your club's leadership group for 2021

"We put up a good fight and it was probably the first game that really clicked for us and we started to play the game-plan we wanted to. 

"It probably took us a little longer than we would have liked, but I guess, heading into this year, knowing we played that last game as well as we did, gives us great confidence moving forward.