Bulldogs Mecca!

By Paulie Stewart

I can hear the cries now: “Oh ye of little faith!”

Yes, I admit it I paid the ultimate price for not believing my beloved Bulldogs would make it to the AFL Grand Final last September.

After 62 years in the wilderness I thought mid-2016 that while showing huge improvement, the mighty boys of the red, white and blue, where probably still at least 12 months away from winning a flag.

Anyhow, the end result of my deluded decision was that I was not at the MCG or even with the true believers at the Western Oval on the big day, but was instead in a small Spanish village.

I had made my way across Europe following the fortunes of the team as they broke down barrier after barrier, team after team, to make to their way to the big day.

You would be amazed how many people said: “Go Doggies!” after I donned the club cap and walked through the streets of Berlin.

After the tremendous win against Greater Western Sydney I found myself in a small village in southern Spain, just a couple of big punt kicks from Morocco, desperate to tune into the MCG action.

Luckily I tracked down a computer, set my alarm for 5 am in preparation for the big day, and waited.

By game time I had managed to get a link to the game and settled in to watch the drama unfold.

I was found by fellow travelers crying in the kitchen, after my shouts finally woke them just after dawn.

“Why are you crying? Did your side lose?’’ asked one.

“No no not that (sob) because Luke (sob) Beveridge (sob) just gave (sob) his Premiership medallion to Bob Murphy (sob).’’

A special moment in Australian sport for sure!

However, the real magic of the Dogs victory happened several days later when I flew back to Australia on a long haul flight via the Middle East.

Sometime during the night I made my way to the toilets where I joined a line to patiently waited my turn.

Suddenly I was joined in the line by a chap in a full length white ornamental robe, white headdress and black beard.

Obviously a devout Muslim.

We stood eyeing each other in a silence only punctuated by the snores of sleeping passengers.

“It will be good to get back to Melbourne,’’ he eventually volunteered.

“Yeah, no place like home,’’ I quipped.

“I am so sad I wasn’t home this September,’’ he added.

“Why’s that,” I asked?

“I am a massive Bulldogs fan and it would have been amazing to be at the MCG.’’

I look at him startled.

“My brother. What a win hey, I love The Dogs.’’

We immediately embraced like old friends much to the surprise of a dozing hostess who woke to find two guys cuddling outside the toilets.

He continued: “I have actually been in Mecca on pilgrimage but was determined I wasn’t going to miss the match and so thanks to a radio ear piece headset I didn’t miss a thing.”

“The Dogs were awesome what a game.’’

We continued to discuss our favourites; the stoic Matthew Boyd, the cheeky Tom Liberatore, the worth-every-cent gun recruit Tom Boyd and the majestic prince Marcus Bontempelli.

His heroes where my heroes. My team his team.

At that moment it struck me.

Hey Pauline Hanson and fellow anti-Islam advocates what do you mean Muslims aren’t true Australians?

Can you get any more Australian than listening to the Grand Final in Mecca?

Our beloved indigenous brand of football is indeed more than just a game that brings us all together despite race, creed or religion.

Also, to the young African hip hop artists that I work with, I must now make a confession.

I lied to you. It is not actually written in the Australian constitution that all new arrivals to the country must support the Western Bulldogs or face deportation.

I sort of made that bit up but now you have seen the team in action why switch clubs!

This year I won’t be making travel arrangements round September ,so come on Doggies you just got to get back to the ‘G’ on Grand Final Day. Do it for Bob Murphy … and for me!

*Paulie Stewart is a Melbourne musician and writer.

Paulie Stewart and muslim pal.


  1. Les Currie says

    Hey Paulie. I loved your piece. Even though the boys are not firing at the moment, they will find a way. Often when your back is to the wall like it is now for the Dogs, true strength of character comes out. You have to have faith, be you cheering on in Mecca, at the G, the Mecca of football or lying on a beach in Miami. Being a Bulldogs suporter is, I believe, a privilege. You have to endure the tough times to reap the rewards. I have faith that they will put in a ripper of a show next Friday night against the Crows.

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