Of course, not much seems to have happened for us Bulldogs' fans in the 2014 off-season. Very much business as usual; our club's activities have all been quite straightforward, mundane, boringly uneventful, avoiding publicity, media frenzies or any hint of chaos. A smooth-sailing ship gliding through calm waters.
For the keen observer such as myself, however, it hasn't escaped my attention that there have been in fact some quite significant changes around the club. There are, for example, a few new numbers being worn by the players, which will be disconcerting for a while. Young Toby McLean, who will be wearing number 16, will certainly be chuffed to see how many kids have adopted him as their new hero. I'm fully expecting Toby to do great honour to the beloved guernsey, which if I recall rightly was last worn by cult hero and master of the delicate baulk and clever sidestep. He of the explosive pace and uncanny skills. I speak, of course, of the one and only Matthew Croft.
Zaine Cordy has bravely donned the seemingly-cursed number 12 and will join his brother Ayce. Together I see them playing integral roles in our single-minded assault on the ultimate prize, the holy grail - Most Bizarre Names in the AFL.
If we fall short of that pinnacle, we can always console ourselves with a red-hot go at the First Name/Last Name Confusion Award. With Easton Wood, Fletcher Roberts and Bailey Dale out on the field, our stocks are as healthy as they've been since the glory days of Huntley Kingster (sorry, make that Kingsley Hunter).
There's a new guy in number 17 too. I haven't heard much about him as yet - he's had a low key start, pretty much flown under the radar. I believe he may be a distant cousin of Matthew Boyd, but that's mere speculation at this stage.
The cheer-squad are painstakingly working on their banners, over-writing the names Terry Wallace, Peter Rhode, Rodney Eade and Brendan McCartney with that of Luke Beveridge in 'Our Mastermind' signs. Dozens of sub-editors are celebrating potential puns involving our new coach, stockpiling them for just the right occasion. I'm envisaging opening the sports section to 'Flat Beveridge wonders where the fizz went', or perhaps 'Hot Beveridge more than a match for Buckley's stale Pies', or for the truly starry-eyed among us: 'Beveridge mix tastes truly sweet in premiership victory.'
Meanwhile, the postal service delivers me my annual parcel. Like thousands of others I tear off the wrapping and look over the harbinger of another year, another season: new scarves, caps, lanyards and membership cards that pronounce us - whether ominously or optimistically, it's often hard to say - 'A Bulldog for Life.'
Sign up, sign up...
Many of you have taken the time to subscribe to this blog. Bless you. However the blog subscription management system I was using was as unreliable and erratic in its performance as a Western Bulldogs kick-in strategy.
So I am adopting a new subscription system. If you wish to continue to receive my blog posts in 2015, you will now need to sign up here.
(Over the next month I will de-activate the previous system, once I'm sure that the new one really does deliver better, and will send out one more reminder before I do.)
Please sign up!
Sustenance over the pre-season wilderness
In October 2013, in the throes of my restless adaptation to the non-footy season, I wrote a blog post about this strange twilight period. It's pertinent as we now find ourselves again adrift between seasons, mourning the end of another unsuccessful year and unsure how much to hope for in the upcoming one. I identified a curious phenomenon known as Post Seasonal Affective Disorder (often shortened to the Post SADs), as the true footy die-hard comes to terms with the absence of our addictive fix of despair, disappointment and just occasionally magic and jubilation. While we no longer have Shaun Higgins and Tom Williams to tantalise us with glimpses of 'best ever fitness' and 'training the house down', other aspects still ring unfortunately true, and as a community service, I suggest you re-visit the blog. (If needed, seek immediate assistance). Read it again here