What’s in a name? Plenty if you barrack for Footscray

Footscray won the VFL premiership yesterday. I’m going to repeat it because I still don’t quite believe it. FOOTSCRAY won the VFL premiership!

It wasn’t the Western Bulldogs it was Footscray.

It was something about that untrendy address that brought a crowd of 25,000 mainly Bulldog supporters to watch the Grand Final at Etihad. It was that unfashionable name that had record crowds attending their home matches at the Whitten Oval this season.

What a difference it makes to see your team play in a fairly even competition with at least a few games at your home ground with more proposed for next year.

Of course all the attention is on the Swans and the Hawks and the team selections for next Saturday. The VFL premiership details will quickly fade, but not for Bulldog supporters.

I was there when Footscray won the Grand Final in 1954, but even I felt the need to check the records when commentators reminded everyone it is the first premiership for Footscray since that year. Of course it’s true and yesterday’s win helps to ease the pain of so many preliminary final losses.

All Bulldog supporters dream about seeing their team presented with their medals following a Grand Final victory after watching just about every other team go through the experience over the years. Yesterday it finally happened. There was no Craig Willis announcing this time but it was symbolic of what we hope will happen for the Western Bulldogs as well.  “Number one, …Jarrad…Grant!” and so forth. It was interesting the next number called out was number 19 Liam Jones because all the other low numbers belonged to the Western Bulldog players of course.

The big question now is, will these VFL players provide the depth to help the Western Bulldogs climb the ladder next year. The intensity around the ball was good right from the start but they weren’t marking the ball in front of goal and missed easy goals early in the match. One of the commentators was asked why this was happening with some of the Footscray players. He simply said, “If they could get all that right they wouldn’t be playing in the VFL.”

On the plus side, Jones marked well and kicked straight. Jong deserves his new contract with the Western Bulldogs. Redpath is worth persevering with while Grant remains, well…an enigma.

There are not many Bulldog supporters in my town so it was nice when the postie pulled up next to me on his bike when I was cutting the lawns this morning. He yelled out over the noise,  ” Go Dogs!”

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. Bob Speechley says

    I too was at the MCG in 1954 and revered Jack Collins, Ted Whitten along with Captain-Coach Charlie Sutton. The victory over the Box Hill Hawks was fantastic and I hope gives a positive boost to the club. Their fitness levels seem superb and the standouts for me in the Grand Final were Redpath, Jong and Grant. Ben Graham has obviously done a lot of work behind the scenes since his arrival.

    Bask in the glory.

  2. Well played, Neil.
    Well played, Footscray.

    I only saw one VFL game this year but it was a lovely experience. Collingwood v Sandriingham at Victoria Park on a sunny afternoon. Free entry. Sitting on the grassy bank. Onto the oval at the breaks. Good standard of footy.
    Well played, VFL.

  3. Peter Fuller says

    Great to watch yesterday’s match Neil, and I’m delighted for you. There seemed times when the Scrays seemed like they wanted to throw it away, but I guess your point about “they wouldn’t be playing VFL” if they weren’t making errors.
    I’m very interested in the short stories collection mentioned in your profile. I’d like to hear more about it both its planning and execution.

  4. Great stuff Neil. Its a long road that has no turning.
    “First we take Manhattan………..then we take Berlin.”

  5. Congratulations for the tricolours in celebrating their first premiership since 1970. What’s that you may say; 1970 ?

    In 1970 Footscray won the end of sesaon Radiant night premiership. They beat Melbourne by 2 points, 13-17-95 to 13-15-93. Amongst the victors that night were players like Garry Merrington, Gary Dempsey, and Stewie Magee, all players with proud histories in the red, white and blue.

    Cogratulations Footscray on your 2014 VFL premiership victory. Let ‘s see what the future holds.


  6. Skip of Skipton says

    I’m on holidays in NSW and missed the game but saw the Prelim vs. Port Melbourne.
    Jong! Jones also is too good for VFL and needs to step up next year in the AFL, which would help the Dogs no end.

  7. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Bob. I will bask in the glory. Did I read you ended up as an Essendon man?
    Always good to hear from one of the 89000 people who saw the Dogs win in 1954.
    E.Reagans. Call us old fashioned, but you can’t beat watching footy from a grassy bank or in the old grandstand surrounded by your own mob of supporters.
    Thanks Peter, it was a great day for the Scrays. Re the short-stories, the daughter of a neighbour (he’s about your age) asked me to help her father write his childhood memories to pass on to his family. He just needed a push and now he is churning out the stories out at a great rate. I will keep a copy for you when we finish later this year.
    Peter B, taking Manhattan and then Berlin sounded familiar. Was it Eisenhower, Roosevelt or some lyrics from Irving Berlin? Get your point about small steps and will consider Sunday’s triumph as a starting point.
    Glen, reading names of players such as Merrington, Dempsey and Magee brought back memories. Unfortunately they were really battling years for the Dogs.

  8. True Neil, they were battling years, but some damn good players appeared for Footscray in the 1970’s including the likes of Bernie Quinlan, Kelvin Templeton, and Barry Round.

    I haven’t seen Garry Merrington for a while. I last saw him around 8 or so years back when he was a barman at Haskins Hotel in Norh Fitzroy .


  9. Great win, Neil. The Hawks got a bit too clever and paid the price. Hope the Dogs keep their senior coach so he can continue to teach the young blokes.


  10. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Dips. It was a combination of the Hawks being a bit too clever eg. keeping Rioli back, with a no sense wasting him on this level of competition approach. The BoxHill coach must have been pissed off getting the call on how much time Rioli could play.
    The other bit of luck for the Dogs was their two players injured and on the bench, especially Isles I think it was.
    But you need a lucky break somewhere along the line to win the big one. When the Dogs turned the ball over repeatedly in the first quarter and missed a few easy shot at goals, I thought they were gone.

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