By Tricia Mifsud
WESTERN Bulldogs supporters are pinching themselves over their beloved Doggies’ success during the last six years.
In 2016, they won their first grand final since 1954 – where ironically, they bet the Melbourne Demons, who they come up against this Saturday in this year’s big game.
Kilmore’s Flannery family members are all born and bred Bulldog supporters, with mum, Sarah, born at the Footscray hospital and growing up in the Western suburbs. Sporting the red, white, and blue was the only way she knew.
For the Flannery children – they didn’t have much of a choice, but wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ll be honest, the kids pretty much had no choice,” Ms Flannery said.
“It’s such a family thing, and my family have always been football supporters. So, when they were born, it was only natural they left the hospital in a Bulldogs jumper.
Each year the Western Bulldogs has made finals, the Flannery family has decorated the front of their house.
“The kids drive that a little, there’s been years where I’ve said, ‘let’s give it a miss’, but the kids have said no chance in that,” she said.
“In the beginning it was my idea. As soon as we started winning a few games and getting into finals, I thought, ‘you beauty let’s go with it’.”
The family is disappointed that this year’s celebrations will be without their family and friend, including Sarah’s daughter Audrey who has moved to Melbourne.
“It is a shame that we can’t be without family who are all Doggies supporters. We are divided this year and won’t be able to celebrate the result.
“I’m sure when the final siren goes, we’ll all be on FaceTime celebrating the result and crying tears of joy if we win or tears of misery.
“It’s going to be strange though because usually we are all together.”
Meanwhile, over at the Spargo family, young River is preparing to celebrate grand final week with his family and is excited about hopefully seeing his second premiership win.
River’s father Brett said that his son began supporting the Western Bulldogs midway through 2016 and wasn’t surprised of his decision as Brett has always had a soft spot for the Doggies despite being a Geelong supporter.
“River started following the Bulldogs midway through their premiership year of 2016 and from then on, his passion and secretly mine has grown,” Brett said.
Brett does everything he can to support River’s love for the Doggies and even has a membership with both Geelong and the Western Bulldogs.
“I took River to his first game, and he loved the Bulldogs from then on and now we support them together and are both Bulldogs members. I’m also a Cats member but much prefer watching the bulldogs play as their game style is so much more exciting to watch,” he said.
At whatever opportunity, Brett said River will wear his side’s colours, especially in front of the TV watching games.
“River loves to wear his red, white and blue bulldogs clothing whenever they play, even if we are at home and watching them on TV; it can get noisy with all the cheering,” Brett said.
River is confident in his side this week and expects the Bulldogs to win comfortably.
“The Doggies should be the Dees by 23 points. My favourite player is Naughts (Aaron Naughton) because he takes big speckies. I think he will play a very good game and will be exciting to watch,” River said.
“I will be watching the game at home on our big TV and my Dad will definitely be cheering with me.”
Melbourne final 57 years in the making
IT’S been 57 agonising years for the Melbourne Demons and their fans since they held up the Premiership Cup, but next week, they go into the AFL grand final as favourites against the Western Bulldogs and the celebrations have already begun for the fans.
The last time Melbourne won a grand final was back in 1964 when the AFL was still the VFL and the Demons the ’64 grand final was their eighth in 11 seasons.
Aaron Frost and his two children, Rylee and Noah, are a family of die-hard Melbourne supporters, and for Aaron, he has been waiting for the day to wear his red and navy blue on the last day of September.
When Aaron was younger, a neighbour who was a good friend of his family gave him some Melbourne merchandise and Aaron said he “hasn’t looked back since” and it would mean so much if the Dees do win this Saturday.
“It would mean a lot with all the pressure we have been through the years,” he said.
“The family friend that gave me the Melbourne gear has now passed and it will nice to see them win for him too.
“Also it would be amazing to see them win a premiership for Neale Daniher before he passes away after all the work he does for the club and for MND.”
With plans to celebrate with family and friends at home around a barbecue not being able to go ahead due to COVID-19 restrictions, Aaron said it will end up being a quiet night at home watching the game.
“As much as I’d love to do a big barbecue and celebrate and watch the game with family and friends that probably won’t happen with lockdowns,” he said.
“We will probably have a quiet night at home with the kids and decorate the house in Melbourne colours. We have already decorated our front window.”
Aaron’s tip for the grand final is his beloved Dees by 24 points, with he, Rylee and Noah saying their favourite players Clayton Oliver, Max Gawn and Christian Petracca being the difference on the day to get the enforce the win.
Also beginning grand final celebrations is Kilmore resident Jess Gidman, who chose to support the Dees when she was seven years old, despite living in a house full of Carlton supporters.
She said that while she is excited to see her side make it to the grand final, it’s disappointing that her and so many Demon faithfuls will miss out on being at the game.
“We haven’t made it in so long, and it’s pretty sad that we can’t physically be there,” she said.
Like Aaron and his family, Jess will instead turn to watching the game on the couch, and will have her husband and two daughters alongside her.
“My two girls don’t really follow footy and my husband is a North Melbourne supporter, but they all are following the Dees in the grand final with me,” she said.
“I really struggle to watch the games, like during the preliminary final; my heart was racing so much the entire time.”
When asked how she thinks Melbourne will go on Saturday, Jess said she is going into the game the same way she always has – with no expectation to win.
“I say before every game that we’re not going to win. I go in with no confidence and I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing,” she said.
“It’ll end up being a quiet night if we lose, but I’ll make so much noise and celebrate if we get up.”