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Murphy: The Luke Darcy ‘incident’

Post Match with Bont, Bob and Jess Thanks to Channel 7, watch Bob Murphy speak to Marcus Bontempelli post match after the Bulldogs round 8 win over Brisbane

At the end of 2004 the Bulldogs went through another upheaval and a change of coach.

Peter Rohde made way for Rodney ‘Rocket’ Eade.  During that pre-season Rocket brought with him a new optimism and a game style that was full of run and adventure.

But he did have a darker side.  Before an intra club practice match he took two of his experienced warriors, Luke Darcy and Scott West, aside for a chat.  It was more of a clandestine plan than ‘tea and sympathy’.

Rocket’s instructions for his two henchmen were to ‘start a bit of trouble out there today.  I want to see how these young boys handle the heat in the kitchen’, or words to that affect.  If only I had known that this meeting took place…

In the early part of this infamous intra club match, ‘Darce’ and I started up a verbal battle.  We were good mates and this is how it often is with good mates in a footy club - you push each other’s buttons.

I had observed in my rookie year that Tony Liberatore and Jose Romero would sometimes tease Darce by calling him Bambi.

The inference was that he was a gangly mess of arms and legs who was prone to falling over too easily.  It seemed to get under his skin. 

Subconsciously I put that bit of information in my top pocket.  Five years later, with the verbal jabs going back and forth between Darce and I, I reached into that top pocket and played my Bambi trump card.

Did I get under his skin?  Did I get a response?  Yes, I suppose you could say that.

After the ball had gone through for a point at the Barkly Street end of Whitten Oval, someone kicked it back into play.  Darce and I had only just stopped our verbal war.

I turned my attention to the play, but before I knew it I was down.  I’d been knocked out.  When I came to some minutes later, I was sat in the interchange dugout just in front of where the old Hyde Street band used to play.

Bizarrely, I was mid conversation with a local one-eyed Bulldogs supporter known to me as ‘Doc’.  Doc wasn’t that parochial, per se.  He literally had one eye.  The other one was covered with a patch.

I had no idea how long I’d been sitting in the dugout chatting with Doc.  It was a different time…

Instinctively, I knew it was Darce who had knocked me out.  I had poked the bear, or rather, I had poked Bambi.  Darce still claims to this day, that he ran up behind me and tried to round arm me to the chest and that he just mistimed it.

He mistimed it alright, his fist clocked me on the chin and I went down like a knackered lift.  Whilst the game was still going, I wandered into the old locker room, stood on Darce’s locker seat and scrawled a single word above his number 14.  ‘Coward’.  It stayed there until the club redevelopment in 2008.

A few weeks after ‘the incident’ we held a kangaroo court in front of the entire playing group and coaching staff.  I entered the mock courtroom with crutches, a neck brace and some lead pencil shading under one eye.

I had really taken a beating and it drew warm favour from the jury.  But things turned sour in the cross examination for me.  Inexplicably, Darce was completely exonerated at the end of the trial!

His defence of ‘Bob deserved it and we’ve all wanted to get him at some point’ turned the jury into a blood thirsty mob.  They loved it.

The evidence was more or less ignored.  I lost the unlosable case.  I still can’t believe it.

Darce and I laugh about the incident to this day.  Oh, it was a different time…