I recently worked out that my mother, who has been following the Dogs for 60 years, must have clocked up more than 1000 games in that time.
But in only her third outing to the footy, she saw the game that started it all for her...and the rest of her family. I have prevailed on her to share her story:
"I was 17 years old when Footscray won their only Premiership.
I came out from Ireland when I was 14 and knew nothing about football until I met my late husband Frank when I was 17. I used to go and see him play for West Footscray.
I got to know his sisters and cousins who were mad Footscray supporters. I became interested in seeing the Dogs playing through Frank and his family.
When Footscray got into the Grand Final, Frank was on his team's end of season trip to Warrnambool. I decided to go to the Grand Final with his sisters and cousins. I remember there were quite a few of us in a group. In those days there were no allocated seats so we had to queue to get in. We all got to the MCG at around 4.00 am. I cannot remember how many people were in front of us but when the gates opened around 9.00 am we ran as fast as we could because they knew where we wanted to sit. (I don't think I had ever been to the MCG). We got our seats on the fence near the wing.
There was a huge crowd, about 90,000 and people were sitting inside the fence on the ground. They were allowed to do that as the MCG was being updated for the 1956 Olympic Games. The atmosphere was amazing and even though I didn't know that much about football I was very excited and got caught up in the magic of it all. I remember the team running out. We were playing Melbourne. The majority of the crowd barracked for Footscray. Being a 17 year old girl I already had my favourite player - Ted Whitten No. 3. He was so handsome!! He played a great game.
I cannot recall much about the match itself. It was a bit one-sided. Jack Collins kicked 7 goals. Charlie Sutton and John Kerr played well but from all reports it was a great team effort.
When the final siren rang it was bedlam. People were running on to the ground and we were all hugging and jumping up and down like crazy. The players were carried off. I remember we got a lift back to Footscray in a truck owned by one of Frank's cousins. People were beeping their horns and waving their colours everywhere. All the shops in Footscray had closed early, and all the shop windows were decorated in the red white and blue. It was truly Footscray then. I think everyone in the west barracked for Footscray.
What a day it was. I only wish I had known a bit more about the game itself, but at least I was there when Footscray made history.
We went back to the Town Hall and then to the Western Oval and the players were given a heroes' welcome by thousands of people when they appeared. The town was wild with excitement. Charlie Sutton was made Mayor and Jack Collins who had kicked 7 goals was the star. Ted Whitten was everyone's darling of course.
From that day on I was a mad Doggies' fan and when Frank was recruited to play with Footscray in the under 19s I went every week with his sisters and cousin and used to sit on the wing in the outer. The under 19s played the curtain raiser. Frank went on to play with the 2nds but I am ashamed to say I stayed with the seniors! Frank was 19th man one day for the senior Footscray team but did not get on the ground. His career was cut short by injuries.
I am 76 now. I've missed very few games in that time.
Frank and I had four children who had no choice but to barrack for the Dogs. I am proud to say that they, and my nine grandchildren, are all Bulldog supporters and still share my love for the club.
I believe I am the reason that has happened and I hope they will finally see a Premiership like I did......."
More about my mum (a story about the true believers)
From the Tragician:
I'd love to collect more stories like this: about why you barrack for the Dogs or memories of the games that you especially cherish (even the ones that broke your heart).
Drop me a line.
3/11/2013 04:18:46 am
Thank your mother for her wonderful recollections of that glorious day in September 1954.
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About the Bulldog Tragician
The Tragician blog began in 2013 as a way of recording what it is like to barrack for a perennially unsuccessful team - the AFL team, the Western Bulldogs.