Seven times since 1970, the Bulldogs have made the preliminary final. Seven times they have lost. That pretty much sums up why it's best to look at home and away games when trying to find the Dogs' top moments of the modern era. Thankfully there have been more than a few worthy contenders.
1. Essendon v Western Bulldogs, Round 21, 2000, Colonial Stadium
There's really no other option for the first slot. For as long as the game's greatest teams are discussed, this game will always crop up in conversation. The story is well-worn but worth repeating. Up against the 20-0 Bombers, Bulldogs coach Terry Wallace decided to employ the uber-flood. It worked sufficiently well to keep his side within 22 points in the final quarter, at which point they pounced, kicking the game's final five goals to produce a boilover of epic proportions. The memory of the fourth of those goals, a Chris Grant curler from the pocket which gave his side the lead, is likely to linger for decades. Industrious as ever, Scott West had 30 disposals, earning him the three Brownlow votes in an 11-point win which secured the Dogs' place in the finals. Not that it really helped them much in the grand scheme of the season. Beaten the following week by Hawthorn, their campaign was ended on elimination final weekend comfortably accounted for by the Brisbane Lions.
2. Footscray v St Kilda, Round 13 1978, Western Oval
Both teams entered this match in the bottom handful of teams on the ladder. But what loomed on paper as an even encounter on paper beget a 107-point massacre. Kelvin Templeton was the story. His 24 scoring shots for the day, 15 goals and nine behinds to be precise, remains a VFL/AFL record, while the Dogs' 213 points is still the only time the club has notched a double-century. Astonishingly, eight of Templeton's goals came in the game's final quarter, even if a few of those were courtesy of dubious free kicks. While his performance was completely overshadowed, Ian Dunstan bagged a career-high seven majors. But while Footscray won the following week, that would be their penultimate victory for the season, Don McKenzie's team capitulating to finish second last.
3. Carlton v Western Bulldogs Round 19 2000, Optus Oval
In round 20 of 2000, the Blues and Bombers met in a clash of the league's top two teams, in what was shaped as the match of the season. Either side of that tussle, Carlton and Essendon were beaten by Wallace's middling Bulldogs. The first of their upsets came this Saturday afternoon at Carlton, where Dogs faced a Blues outfit searching for a fourteenth consecutive victory. They were denied though, the Dogs claiming a three-point win, with future club chief executive Simon Garlick bobbing up to kick six goals.The match also happened to be the AFL debut of present-day Dogs captain Bob Murphy.
4. Western Bulldogs v Adelaide Round 16 1999, MCG
No, it won't come close to avenging the pair of defeats dished out by the same opposition on preliminary final day in the two years preceding this match. But having been 40 points in arrears at three quarter time, the Dogs rammed their way home, doing enough to prevail by two points against a struggling Crows that had team seemingly been spurred into action by the resignation of dual premiership coach Malcolm Blight. James Cook's five goals were crucial for the winners, while West was again busy, accumulating 26 disposals. It helped the Dogs snare fourth spot, but their September was ultimately ended in straight sets.
5. Footscray v Carlton Round 2 1983, Western Oval
The Blues were the back-to-back reigning premiers,and had just trounced 1982 runners up Richmond by 10 goals in round one. The Dogs meanwhile were coming off a year in which they had won just three games, and had suffered a 31-point opening round loss in Geelong. Not that it seemed to matter, with the hosts overturning a 20-point quarter time deficit, ultimately winning by 17 points. Simon Beasley, in his second year at the club, slotted six vital goals. The match proved to be a reasonable portent of Footscray's improvement. They would win 10 games in 1983, and 11 the following season, before climbing their way into a preliminary final in 1985.