Point Cook took one of the hardest leaps for a side in the Western Region Football League on Saturday.
The Bulldogs saw first-hand there is no greater elevation than moving up to the top flight from division 2.
Those big bad division 1 sides do not exactly roll out the welcome mat for newcomers.
The Bulldogs got handed their initiation by a ruthless St Albans and were out-classed in the skills department and physically battered from go to whoa in a 92-point loss at Saltwater Reserve.
Bulldogs coach Ian Denny conceded it was a steep learning curve for his side.
“St Albans are a really physical side,” he said.
“We had 16-year-olds and 18-year-olds playing their first games and they’re just kids, but they wore it and tried to go back again.
“They were a little bit intimidated at times, but they kept at it.”
As bitter as that first taste of division 1 football can be, it also has a sweetness that every football side aspires for.
There were 16 sides running around in division 2 and 3 at the weekend and most would have gladly traded places with Point Cook.
With the first game out of the way, Denny hopes it was an eye-opening experience for his brave young team and it drives them through the rest of the season.
After all, this is what the Bulldogs wanted, to be playing among the west’s elite.
“I’m sure they’ll learn something from today,” Denny said. “They might think ‘gee, I need to spend an extra half an hour in the gym’ or ‘maybe I need to start working on this or that to get better’.
“I’m hoping they take that road and not ‘this is all too hard and I’ve got to go back and play twos’.”
Even with the scoreboard blowing out, Point Cook stayed the course and fought it out until its inevitable demise.
If there was an act that summed up the Bulldogs, it was that of young ruckman Aker Ali. Ali was taken in a bone jarring tackle by tough-as-nails St Albans opponent Jarrod Tuppen and driven into the hard surface on a hot day.
It hurt Ali and he was visibly shaken, which forced him to retreat to the bench.
With his side well in excess of 10 goals down, Ali could have called it a day, but he got back up and played out the game.
That was just one instance of many Point Cook players facing the same predicament during 120 minutes of a rude welcoming to top flight football.
If Point Cook can survive that initiation relatively unscathed, it should go alright in season one of what it hopes will be a long stay in the west’s toughest division.
“You could’ve laid down and got beaten by 25 goals, but we tried to stick to our processes and a few of them started to work a little bit better in the second half,” Denny said.
“Our disposal cost us a bit, but that happens when you’ve been battered around a bit.”
Point Cook got to unfurl its division 2 premiership flag from last season.
It was a proud moment for the Bulldogs, who not so long ago were playing division 4 football in the amateurs.
“It’s an awesome day for the club,” Denny said. “This is the difference and it’s why we came to the WRFL.
“The crowd we had here was two or three-fold to what we had in the amateurs.
“We’re building community awareness around the Point Cook area.
“The scoreboard wasn’t good, but we always knew it was going to be a learning curve.
“If you had said to the club a few years ago that you’d go from div 4 amateurs and you’d be in div 1 WRFL, people would’ve laughed at you.”
Point Cook will use the knowledge gained from its St Albans examination for its next big test away to Caroline Springs at Town Centre Oval on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Werribee Districts swiftly moved to the top of the ladder with a 188-point demolition of Albion.
Hoppers Crossing went down in a low scoring game by 23 points to Altona.
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