Grand Final – Melbourne v Western Bulldogs: Bulldogs Anonymous








“Welcome everybody to the September meeting of  Bulldogs Anonymous.


“Remember, no judgements. Just support for anyone who is feeling they are losing their anonymity,  particularly at this time of year. Now, who’d like to go first…yes…Neil.”


“Thank you. My name is Neil and I have been an anonymous Bulldog supporter for most of my life.”


“Hi Neil!”


“I have been tested to be remain anonymous over the years at various times and to stay true to our beliefs, particularly at the time of the 1954 and 2016 premierships. The focus on these historical moments by the media and the general public was so intense, I am ashamed to say I did weaken and fall off the wagon. I have learnt ways to combat the impact of publicity and I am more prepared this time with our team once again in the grand final. We can remain anonymous if we stay strong.


In 1954 after the grand finaI, I began wearing my Footscray jumper to school with Teddy Whitten’s number three on the back.  It was a Footscray primary school so most of the kids had the same idea.  Ironically, I didn’t stand out, so it may have been the beginning of my anonymous supporter’s career.


1955 to 2016 were the halcyon years for the true believers to be anonymous.  There was never any reason during that time to break out the red, white and blue bunting or wear your old Bulldog jumper at footy training.


1961 was one of the few times anonymous supporters could have been tested when Footscray played Hawthorn in the grand-final. Hawthorn with Kennedy’s commandos were on a mission to win their first premiership, and from memory, they did it easily.


Just like Melbourne started their incredible run of premierships after Footscray beat them in 1954, Hawthorn started their winning streaks after they beat Footscray in 1961.


So began decades of the Footscray/Western Bulldogs name disappearing as a select few clubs won the premierships and all the glory. For the anonymous Bulldog true believers, it was our hey-day. No expectation of winning a grand-final. No temptations to go over to the dark side and paint the front fence red, white and blue.


So the decades rolled on with what seemed like every other team being successful, except the Bulldogs. Early 1960’s it was Carlton and Geelong fighting it out. StKilda broke through in 1966 and Richmond dominated in the late sixties and early 70’s. Then it was a time when Hawthorn and North Melbourne players filled the colour supplements of the papers. Envious Bulldog supporters could only see yet another photo of Snake Baker taking a screamer over his Hawthorn opponent. Hawthorn dominated the publicity over the next three decades while Bulldog anonymous believers hibernated.


For those of us believe in anonymity, it was what we craved. World Of Sport interviewed players from the handful of successful teams and perhaps only twice during the season, we saw a glimpse of a Garry Dempsey or a George Bissett.


In the early 1990s the Bulldogs regrouped after the failed merger with Fitzroy. The Bulldogs began  to play in preliminary finals and I was tempted to break my anonymous supporter’s code.


Working in a country town at this stage, I felt a few Bulldog team posters in the office could do no harm. But I felt dirty, so when the Bulldogs failed in those prelims, I was glad to take down the posters and not mention the Bulldogs again.


The Bulldogs lack of success until 2016 was plain sailing for us Bulldog Anons. Some people would see 1997 and 1998 as successful years. It was only successful for those of us who slunk away following those defeats and return to the comfort of anonymity.


And now we face another challenge to remain anonymous with another Bulldog grand-final looming. We are under additional pressure with a two-week lead-in to the grand-final not helped by the fact that the publicity will centre around the fact the Bulldogs will play Melbourne as they did in 1954.


So what have I learnt from 2016 when I weakened and wanted to tell anyone who would listen that I barracked for the Bulldogs…and that I actually went to the first grand final!


It will be easier this time around if we are not tempted to join the throng of supporters at the Whitten Oval because of Covid. I’m not proud of the fact that I was there on that day in October 2016, but a premiership after 62 years will do that to you. I had reached my lowest ebb and that’s when I contacted Bulldogs Anonymous the following day.


It will be difficult to stay strong if the Bulldogs win the premiership. A couple of handy tips. If you buy the paper with the team photos, don’t tell the newsagent you are only buying this paper because it has the Bulldog’s poster in it…which is your team. The same with the Football Record. Don’t say you are only buying it because it has a picture of Bailey Smith on the cover…and he plays for your team.


Finally as you sit alone watching the grand-final and the Bulldogs win, turn off your phone. Otherwise you will be bombarded with calls from people who don’t follow the footy, but remembered from the past that you did. “ Didn’t you used to barrack for Footscray?”


We can survive this coming week if we stay strong and adhere to our principles. I would like to recommend that we meet here again after the grand-final and if the Bulldogs win, we can quietly toast the victory and still remain anonymous. Just don’t tell anyone. Thank you.”


(round of applause)




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About Neil Anderson

Enjoys reading and writing about the Western Bulldogs. Instead of wondering if the second premiership will ever happen, he can now bask in the glory of the 2016 win.


  1. Terrific piece again Neil. Your mum’s pessimistic pre-iced cake in 54 still gets a run with our Footscray loving tribe.
    Don’t know if anything has encapsulated the Scraggers fans Psyche more than an iced dessert inscribed “bad luck Footscray, you did your best”
    Many thanks

  2. Well done Brother Neil. You have admitted that you are powerless under the Bulldogs spell, and your life is unmanageable during the finals. You have made a searching and fearless moral inventory. Have you made a list of all the teams (and their fans) you have harmed, and committed to make amends to them all (excluding Demons)?
    Pray that the footy gods return you to a normal way of thinking and losing (mum’s cake will never go to waste).

  3. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Peter. Long time no see, read or hear. Hope you are well. Yes, I tried to use the ‘pessimistic iced cake’ story again but couldn’t find a spot. Anonymous Bulldog is a bit like son of Pessimistic Bulldog. They’re definitely related.
    In 2016 I caught up with old friends from Prince Street (Michelle Grace nee Jenkins and her cousin Debra Moore.

  4. Peter Fuller says

    Great to hear from you again, Neil. You still have your writing gifts, much in evidence in this lovely piece. Good luck to your boys next week. They are worthy Grand Finalists and even if they fall short, I don’t expect a wipeout, so “Bad luck Bulldogs, you did your best” might be the meme for the week after next, or alternatively channeling Teddy “We stuffed it up ’em”.
    Many years ago, Garrie Hutchinson wrote a match report of an unexpected Footscray victory. He overheard vanquished opposition supporters magnanimously (patronisingly?) sayin wtte, “oh well it’s good for football that a battling side wins”. Hutcho’s take on that was “no, what would be good for football, is if the Dogs won every week, and the rest of the competition hated them”. Be very afraid, that it might be moving towards that stage.
    Enjoy the coming week.

  5. Peter Fuller says

    Memo to PF: never trust a failing memory. Before I’m reminded by someone else, I confess that I missed the correct verb in the EJ quote.Of course, it should be “we stuck it up ’em.”

  6. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Peter B and Peter F. As a retired amateur playwright, the greatest compliment you can get is people quoting back some of your lines after they have seen the play.. It was great to see the pessimistic message on the cake is still remembered by some of the Almanackers. Of course unlike part of a play script, it was actually true.

  7. Great to see your posting Neil. It’s been a while.

    I’ve mentioned before my mum came down from Corowa in 1954 to do here midwifery @ the hospital. ( It’s had a number of names since, Western Health the current one: I also worked there, a lot later on.) Footscray won the flag that year setting in place my mother’s support for them. Sadly when they won the flag in 2016 she wasn’t around to enjoy it, having died earlier that year.

    Growing up in the West I was aware the majority of my school mates, neighbours, supported Footscray, however their finals appearances were rare. None the less the passion in cheering the tricolours to victory never weakened. It seemed upsetting the eventual premiers was like winning the flag: Hawthorn 1971, Richmond 1973, 1974, etc. The spirit of these supporters remained strong. Maybe a sense that winning the ‘Big One’ may have been a step too far, but the belief in the side representing the working class West remained strong.

    Well Neil you chaps are back in line for the ‘Big One’. Your run in the finals in many ways mirrors the 2016 final. You’ve not lost a Grand Final to Melbourne. Hopefully these factors mean the Premiership Cup is on its way to the Western Oval. All the best Neil, looking forward to your posting of the 2021 triumph.


  8. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Glen. I had forgotten you were not a Bulldog supporter even though you lived in the same street as my friend Stuart Hall. Stuart’s mum was still living in that same street in 2016. You might remember in the Doggies Almanac, I wrote about celebrating the Bulldog’s win with Stuart and his family.
    i am sorry your mum just missed out on seeing the victory. I hope I can write something positive if the Dogs get up next Saturday.

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