WHILE the Brisbane Lions and, more to the point, the Gold Coast Suns are in the dog house, the actual Dogs have been let off the leash.
Among such diabolical tales already this season, they are the real good news story of the AFL - the young underdogs beating the odds ... and beating up on some much more fancied rivals.
A ladder-leading Adelaide one week, super power Sydney on its home deck in conditions conducive to Swans the next.
Some of us made the mistake of tipping the Bulldogs to bottom out after a spring clean-out of coach Brendan McCartney and captain Ryan Griffen, along with Brownlow Medallist Adam Cooney, Daniel Giansiracusa and Shaun Higgins.
There was no doubting they had some promising pups, but that was some amount of experience heading out the door, which was only compounded by a pre-season knee injury to reigning best-and-fairest winner Tom Liberatore.
But out of that mess came the recruitment of 2013 No.1 draft pick Tom Boyd, Robert Murphy stepping up to be an inspirational captain at 32, and, probably most significantly of all, Luke Beveridge taking over as senior coach.
The 44-year-old, who played 118 senior games, including 31 with Footscray (1993-95), works to the belief that you can be a friend to the players you're coaching or "their big brother or father figure", while trying to keep messages simple.
He doesn't have a teaching background like an Alastair Clarkson, but instead was a public servant for 17 years in various government departments, most recently the financial intelligence unit, Austrac, which regulates the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act. He refers to it as a "pretty powerful agency".
So, the grandson of former Collingwood star Jack Beveridge, who played in four straight flags (1927-1930) under Jock McHale, has in fact gone from federal watch dog to footy top dog.
Not sure what his success rate was like with Austrac, but his track record with footy clubs is remarkable.
He is the only coach to have taken a club (in this case St Bedes Mentone) in the Victorian Amateur Football Association from C Grade to A Grade in consecutive seasons.
He was later part of Mick Malthouse's support team during Collingwood's 2010 AFL premiership year before being put in charge of Hawthorn's backline (in 2012-2014) for two more flags.
Now he has a side that is playing with style that is easy on the eye, but also capable of getting down and dirty, dishing out pressure and also absorbing it - one that can thrive during September action.
He's been backed by a leadership group that includes three of the nicest guys in footy - Murphy, Matthew Boyd and Dale Morris - but who also instil strong ethics in teammates.
Under Beveridge, who obviously knows a little about finances, it's been a total 'buy-in' by all his players, young and old.
The likes of the Lions and Suns could take a leaf out of the Bulldogs' book. Better yet, read the entire thing.
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