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Grand Final Sydney v Western Bulldogs: the final kick in the guts



Is there a Statute of limitations for how long Bulldogs fans can display their posters, scarves, flags and general jubilation in public view? It is closing in on three weeks since the big day and a stroll around Seddon, Yarraville and Footscray indicates that not a single item of club colours has been placed in storage just yet. Will weeks turn into months? Years perhaps? Will I be still looking down at the pavement to avoid the sight of red, white and blue as my kids shuffle me off to the nursing home in 2056? I am a lone Swan living in the western suburbs of Melbourne, trying my best to swim against a powerful rip current.


The Railway Hotel is still freshly painted. In their windows Fish and Chip shop owners have replaced advertising collateral featuring scantily clad women promoting chicko-rolls with freshly minted Bulldogs posters. Uni Students are making use of their 30 hours of idle time per week by attaching scarves to their rented chimneys. Street poles are covered in Bulldogs bunting. My bloody coffee shop has a mural painted on it! The paint store down the road has a painted horse out front! My next door neighbour, who has no real interest in football, and has long professed to being a Tiger supporter, has even attached a Bulldogs bumper sticker to her car. These are crazy times.


The sense of community pride is brilliant. It really is. I’m fortunate to see it. You can sense the impact the triumph has had on the local community. In the era of a Nationalised competition, the Bulldogs have been able to maintain a genuine Melbourne suburban connection. There is a sense of ownership and attachment to the ‘scray. I suspect the streets of Geelong in 2007 were similar? Will it last? Can the Bulldogs capitalise on the momentum and convert the ‘new supporters’ who have been swept up in the wave of goodwill into card carrying members?


My workplace in Moonee Ponds doesn’t even offer any relief. The wave of goodwill has crossed the Maribyrnong River. My floor of mild mannered civil servants and paper shufflers contains a half dozen rabid Dogs supporters. Their flags are still flying high.


I don’t begrudge the success. The Bulldogs were brilliant on the day and were just too good for my Swans. At least Hawthorn didn’t beat us! .. if it had to be any other team I’m glad it was the Dogs etc etc etc. I try to convince myself that the pain of losing the big one is easing.


Every man has his breaking point though and cracks are starting to appear. Since about two minutes after the Grand final I have wanted to erase it from the memory bank. Living 1km from Whitten Oval I am reminded of the Grand Final every time I walk out the door.


I don’t want to think about the fact that we stumbled when the game was up for grabs. I don’t want to analyse the 4-5 players who turned in sub-par performances. I don’t want to think about whether Mills was fit enough to play? I don’t want to think about the impact Aliir Aliir may have had? I don’t want to continue to curse the fact we let Mumford walk out the door a few years back. What scarring will Gary Rohan carry? So many questions. I am so desperate to escape football that I attempted to watch an A-league Game on telly – 3 minutes in I came to my senses.


The weekend past delivered one final kick to the guts. My young scallywag Harry (aged 2) has been swept up in the Bulldogs euphoria. He was watching with the rest of the family as we cheered the Bulldogs over the line against the Giants in the prelim. Ever since he has been chanting “Go Doggies” every time he sees Bulldogs colours. A car trip to the supermarket sees at least five enthusiastic cheers as he spots any number of houses or shops with Bulldogs colours flying. At first this was cute, funny even. It is now starting to give me the shits! I’ll give the Bulldogs the Cup, but I won’t give up my flesh and blood up without a fight!


I’m sure some new age parenting guru will tell me to embrace the independence and free spirit of my children. I’m not ready for that yet. I don’t like change. I still wear Lynx Deodorant. I am hanging onto the notion of a happy family of Swans supporters. In addition to Harry’s recent Dogs dalliance, Jack (aged 4) has been banging on for ages about how much he likes Port Adelaide. Where have I gone wrong?


Mrs D brought Harry a Bulldogs t-shirt on the weekend and the look on the little Dictators face was pure joy. He had a wider grin than the time I introduced him to doughnuts. Three days of consecutive wear (day and night) followed until a trip to the Whirlpool was unavoidable.


Have I lost my little cygnet or will he come back to the fold in time? His Buddy plush toy still commands a position under the Doona at night. Given his contract I think Buddy is ‘obliged’ to still be playing by the time Harry hits High School. There is hope. Perhaps under the cover of darkness I can paint the streets of Footscray a different colour? Maybe I could sell up Dodson HQ and move to a more neutral area? Maybe I could pump in subliminal messaging tapes into the Scallywags bedroom at night? I welcome suggestions.


It is exactly 155 days until the start of the 2017 AFL Season. 155 days for the Doggies to revel in success. 155 days for us Swans to lick our wounds. 155 days for me to be reminded of a Grand Final loss. 155 days for a balding 38 year old father, who doesn’t want to grant his kids independence just yet, to plead, bribe, negotiate, threaten and hopefully convince his little two year old scallywag to return to the Red and White. Wish me luck.

About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.


  1. Neil Anderson says

    It does feel like a football revolution Craig. Right down to the tri-colours planted everywhere in triumph. The French revolution was instigated by the middle-class rather than the working-class so it’s no wonder the flags are flying highest in places like Yarraville.
    It must be hard to take for you living amongst the enemy. I’m glad to see you have acknowledged the Bulldogs as being the better team on the day and it’s not surprising the cygnets are attracted to all the red, white and blue colours.
    I’m not sure how long the Bulldog celebrations will go on. It could be a while as we finally shake off being kicked in the guts ourselves for decades.

  2. jan courtin says

    To hell with the new age parenting gurus, Craig. Just act as perhaps your father and maybe his father would have acted: forbid all of the blue, and lay down the law!

    Cheer cheer

  3. Chris bracher says

    Craig – I’m with Jan. There is a fundamental flaw in your marital relationship. What was Mrs D thinking with the Bulldogs T-shirt purchase?!
    No go and re-assert some authority in the household and see that your paternal obligation is fulfilled!

    ( I too have had to cop the Dog-love at my workplace in the West. Today a work colleague offered me the chance to join her table at a Bulldogs memorabilia auction night …..I just stared agog … have got to be joking! She wasn’t. She is so caught up in the afterglow that she thought everyone…including the most parochial Bloods….were overjoyed!
    Happy for them, is completely different from happy!)

  4. Keiran Croker says

    Move house Craig!
    Chris. You nailed it. Happy for them does not mean I’m happy. Perhaps .. Gutted, empty, looking for new meaning in life, etc..
    Time to move on everyone!

  5. My daughter lives in Footscray. She was tempted to stick a pin in the blue balloons wherever she found them! She has now moved on, nothing to see here …

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