Round 6 – Western Bulldogs v Adelaide: The Challenges of Becoming {a Bulldogs supporter}

We bundled our 4 year old, Scarlett, into the most Red White and Blue clothes we could find and I headed off with her to Sunshine station. It was her first ever live game of AFL and my first as a Doggies supporter. She jogged along beside me keeping pace with my long stride and when we got to the platform there were a few more Doggies fans soaking up the Autumn sun. As the train doors shut someone from the station overhead yelled “Go Doggies!” Scarlett started and looked up at me, unsure. I smiled back, chuffed that we were now both proper Westies.

We found a spot high up on the wing. The surreal sight of a half empty TV studio with the roof ripped off was a long way from the first game I’d been taken to at Windy Hill or the ‘G but it would have to do. There was a definite lack of atmosphere, and the Crows didn’t seem to show up for the first 20 minutes. As we banged on the first 4 goals, Scarlett made some friends with a tribe of three Doggies siblings. I tried to get excited about our great start, but something seemed false about it, and no Doggies supporters around me were smiling. One of them joked to Scarlett that Dogs are always in front like this, and though too young to quite get sarcasm, she looked skeptical.

By half time the game was an even, low standard affair. My technical explanations to Scarlett consisted of “we’re the blue team trying to kick it through the two big sticks”.  She nodded that she got it, but it was hard to tell. She definitely got the hot dog. By the 3rd quarter she and the 3 pups were more interested in playing on the gadget she’d brought, and I could hardly blame them. This game was not climbing to any great heights. The consensus at three quarter time was that the teams were pretty evenly matched, but that the Bulldogs would likely lose, as losing is what they were more expert at. My Bulldog mates were dragging me further from my old habits of hope and into their wintry certainties of failure.

There were a few high fives as we hit the front in the last quarter. But then the seemingly inevitable forehead-slapping mistake, and defeat was sealed. When the siren sounded Scarlett was having a little nap across the seats, with her Bulldog toy as a pillow. My fellow Doggies seemed to cheer up once the game was over, as if they’d all got what they came for and could get on with their lives. This was all very different from an Essendon/Collingwood match on Anzac Day, but the less said of that the better. On the train home a woman in her 60’s in full Bulldogs regalia got up to get off at Middle Footscray station. She looked Scarlett and I with our Bulldog toy and scarf and matching Stewart Crameri badges. She shook her head and just said

“Child abuse.”

and hopped off the train.


  1. Neil Anderson says

    Child abuse indeed. Don’t forget what it’s doing to the elderly Bulldog citizens as well!
    When we were leading with the first few goals and the commentators had us winning the game and harping on about being just outside the eight etc, the ‘Danny from Droop Street’ ( Coodabeens caller ) voice entered my head. ” We need to be at least ten goals in front because they’re gonna make a comeback for sure. Leading at quarter time just doesn’t seem right somehow. I bet bloody Jones will stuff it up!”
    Sure enough, Negative Danny knew what he was talking about.

  2. Cowshedend says

    Joe, loving your work.
    How quickly you have learnt the way of the Dog, Grasshopper.. now go forth to the wastelands of Tottenham,and contemplate your misery.
    Hope the next edition does not have your daughter asking you how the Scraggers are going, and you respond with “Frankly Scarlett….I don’t give a damn!”

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