On this day in 2004, the Western Bulldogs had a comfortable win over Carlton at Docklands. With both sides struggling in that season, the game was not particularly notable in many ways, especially after having gone from an entertaining shoot-out in the first half to a game that petered out in the final term, to the point where neither team scored a last-quarter goal.
But that match is notable for one very important reason — it marked the AFL debut of Will Minson.
Drafted by the Dogs 18 months earlier, Minson was drafted a couple of days after completing Year 12 in Adelaide and had moved to Melbourne to join the Bulldogs within a week.
Minson did a good job as a back-up to number one ruckman Luke Darcy on his debut, collecting 10 hitouts to go with four disposals. Big Will went on to play five matches in his first year, but after he was included in the Bulldog side in Round 4, 2005, he became a regular member of the team, and he took the number one ruck mantle after Darcy suffered an ACL rupture a couple of years later.
Minson probably reached his peak in 2013, but his ruck craft was still winning the Bulldogs matches through 2015. He played only senior two games in his final season, 2016, but he was part of Footscray's VFL Grand Final win that year and is considered by all Doggies fans as an integral part of the team that journeyed to the 2016 premiership.
Far more often than not, Will Minson was a driving force in the ruck who was capable of drifting forward and kicking a vital goal.
Big Will is no doubt rightly proud of his 191-game career at the Kennel, which began on this day, May 23, 16 years ago.
Almost a 'clean sheet'
51 years to the day before Minson's debut as a 19-year-old, the Dogs hosted Fitzroy at the Western Oval, with a team boasting four 19-year-olds (including Ted Whitten) and an 18-year-old.
The newspaper pundits were unanimous in tipping a Fitzroy win before that game, but on a rainy day at West Footscray, the Roys were no match for the more inexperienced Bulldogs. The Dogs won the match by 10 goals, and went within a whisker of setting an amazing record.
Many Footscray fans will recall the day in 1991 that the Dogs held Carlton goal-less until the final minute of the match.
But whereas the Blues had kicked 10 behinds before scoring that goal, on this day in 1953 Fitzroy failed to register any score at all until the closing moments of the match.
Fitzroy's score was 0.0.0 until Alan Ruthven hacked a loose ball out of the air to kick the Maroons' only goal of the match.
When the siren sounded shortly after, the Bulldogs had won the match 10.6.66 to 1.0.6.
The Roys' final total of 6 was the lowest by any side in more than half a century, and no team has kept the opposition to a score as low as that in the 67 years since.