There are gutsy wins, epic wins, brilliant wins, emotional wins, and just-get-the-job-done wins.
But the true connoisseur of footy has learnt to savour, if not quite revel in, the guilty pleasure of the Ugly Win.
The Ugly Win is distinguished by a unique mix of boredom and dread. Hallmarks are a contest that is uninspiring, pitiful skills and errors that should be comical (but fail to raise a chuckle). There is typically a blanket of inertia over the entire spectacle that makes you forget (the players certainly seem to have) that the aim of the contest is actually scoring a goal.
At times whole squads of supporters have been known to simultaneously lose their will to live. It's the kind of match that you never, ever, EVER want to go home and endure again on the replay.
And yet - and this somehow makes it worse - you still desperately want to win. It's hard-wired into your DNA as a fan: this numbingly awful display can make you bored to screaming point, and simultaneously give you a knot in your stomach. The devotee of the Ugly Win simply can't look away, even though for long stretches of what can seem an interminable match, you wish you were anywhere else, even, perhaps, locked in a room with only Sophie Mirabella, Eric Abetz and Christopher Pyne for company.
The tone was set early when our banner contained a typo. It's going to be hard (but I'll manage) to keep childishly sneering about the infamous Essendon 'Bombres' banner when our own promised an 'assult' on the Saints.
The Saints' run-through was also lacklustre. Farren Ray was congratulated, in tepid fashion, for 200 'solid' games. Wow. They certainly dialled down the hyperbole on that one.
From these not so auspicious beginnings, the game spluttered into action.
In a scintillating first quarter, two whole goals were scored. The Libber Sisters even mistimed their feeble high fives when our solitary goal materialised.
The Saints were determined to stop our running game; our guys constantly looked up,confronted by a wall of red white and black, but still bombed it aimlessly into a static forward line.
Last week potential scoring opportunities opened up everywhere in Jake The Lair's Paddock; this time our forward half was as crowded as a Highpoint Shopping Centre car park three days before Christmas. (I apologise. This might not be my most sparkling analogy.The game didn't leave me much to work with).
Battling to escape the tedium, I drifted down memory lane, remembering other contests between the Dogs and Saints, the Cinderella teams that hardly ever get to go to the ball.
But harking back to the past was, like so much unfolding out on the field, a mistake.
In our last red-hot go at a flag - the years of 2008-2010 - the Saints consistently had our measure. Running into Ross Lyon's notoriously defensive walls and the stultifying pressure he drilled into his team, we buckled time and again.
Twice, the Dogs and Saints met in preliminary finals, and twice the Dogs failed. 2009 was our best shot; there was barely a goal in it all night. The Dogs squandered crucial shots at goal in the first quarter when we came out at a furious, frenzied pace; the Saints slowly crawled back at us, the masters at bottling up a match and dragging it back to their ultra-defensive terms. There was, of course, the never-to-be-forgotten (at least while I'm writing this blog) contentious free kick by Shane The Perm McInerney to Riewoldt. And an unbearably tense last quarter: the Dogs snatching back the lead. Then losing it again.
There was a moment that I'll always remember, minutes from the end. The Dogs were a kick down: the match, and that precious, never seen, Grand Final berth, in the balance. Gia launched a tough, running shot at goal on his left foot. There was a fraction of a second where it looked like it was going through. And then it, and our premiership dream, faded slowly away.
There was at least something Shakespeare-ian about that loss. A nobility in our failure.
There was much less grandeur in a stinker of a game when next the Dogs and Saints faced off, in April 2010. It sparked a fierce debate about Ross Lyon and where his tactics of ugly footy were taking the game; but while that raged, the Dogs were absorbing a humiliating message, an ignominious demonstration of our inability to deal with his stifling but cruelly effective tactics.
We were seventeen points up at three quarter time, and had controlled the match: the Saints had only managed four goals all night. You might have thought we were safe. But if you made this foolhardy assumption, you clearly fail to grasp the unique horror of barracking for the Bulldogs. A pall of silence fell over the crowd when the siren sounded that evening (oh, did I mention we lost by three points? And that Gia could have sealed that game too, but for some unknown reason, despite being 20 metres out, tried to pass it onto a team-mate in a worse position.) Almost in an instant I recalibrated my confidence that 2010 would be our year. I, my fellow fans, and, it seemed, the demoralised team out on the ground, had suffered a wound to our psyche. I've heard Terry Wallace talk about the moment or event where a team admits to itself it can't win a flag: I wonder if that was it for our team.
There's been a world of pain for both our clubs since then as we've slid well away from premiership contention. The Dogs, I firmly believe, though younger and less experienced, are further advanced in our rebuild at this point than the Saints. But as we sat through the monotony of Saturday night, it felt like nothing much had changed. Could it be, after all this time, that the Saints were still our bogey team, and that, even without Ross 'The Process' Lyon in the box, they could still grind us down with their intense, exhausting style of play?
In the third quarter we finally began to put our stamp on the game. While not thrilling by any means, there were at least some coherent passages of play. We were ten points up at three quarter of time, and when Lukas Webb showed terrific composure midway through the last term to nail a set shot, our lead was 21 points.
No self-respecting Dogs' fan could, however, have regarded the game as over. Just as my mind began to formulate the thought: "Wouldn't it be dreadful if Riewoldt somehow bobs up and wins the game for them", the big number 12 began to exert his influence. Fletcher Roberts had done well on him, but suddenly our long-time nemesis was off the chain. Riewoldt has been our tormentor so often: the difference in 2009, the catalyst for the Saints' extraordinary comeback against us only seven short weeks ago when we blew a mere 55 point lead.
With him leading the way, the Saints launched an all out 'assult' on the goals. The Dogs seemed to freeze in the moment. Someone moaned: 'Don't do this to us Dogs.' It may have been me.
Because, of course, there's something much worse than an Ugly Win. Its twisted stepsister, the Ugly Loss, the debacle that scarred us in 2010, is possibly the most miserable, soul-destroying experience of them all.
The tension grew.
(Though more in the fashion of a low budget horror movie than a Hitchcock classic).
One player, however, had all evening seemed to stand apart from the dire spectacle. Fortunately for us, that one player was in our colours and in career-best form. There's something rather Celtic about the way Easton Wood plays the game, spring-heeled, free spirited. With his confidence high, he was quite literally flying above all others in this dour struggle; his football was almost joyous, as he floated around, launching himself at the ball, carefree and unafraid.
In the last few minutes, just as in our memorable Sydney victory, Easton Wood rescued us time and time again and again while the shell-shocked Dogs hung on for our lives.
I didn't sing the song, wave my scarf, or do anything extravagant when the siren sounded and we were somehow still in front.
But I was channelling one of our legends, the great man Ted Whitten. Oh what a bloody relief.
The Ugly Win tends to inspire cliches. Things like We got the four points and that's what matters and Good sides find a way.
It's true, of course: for our young team, any win is a good win, and learning to win in adversity is a lesson that will ultimately reap more dividends than the 72 point margin in our frolic against the Lions.
This year we've taken the competition by surprise, but now we will be scrutinised more closely. The claustrophobic tactics of Saturday night will undoubtedly be studied and replicated against us many more times throughout the year.
They're the claustrophobic tactics of finals footy - tactics our club needs to learn to overcome when September action comes our way again.
Of course it was more fun watching Jake The Lair put on a showstopping turn the week before. In Saturday's war of attrition he scored no goals, and in a word rarely associated with Jake his output was 'modest.' But even lairs sometimes have to win ugly: his most important contribution was the tackle he laid on Sam Gilbert. It led directly to what turned out to be the matchwinning goal by Lukas Webb.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to rush off and watch those last five minutes on the replay again. Winning's never really ugly, especially against those Saints, after all.
about the Bulldog Tragician
The Tragician blog began in 2013 as a way of recording what it is like to barrack for a perennially unsuccessful team - the Western Bulldogs.