The pride of the west

Western Bulldogs (AAP/Richard Wainwright)

Goya Dmytryshchak

Western Bulldogs fans may be commiserating after Saturday’s AFL Grand Final loss to Melbourne but say they are proud and grateful to the club for lifting their spirits during a tough year.

Mat O’Keefe said the Bulldogs’ success throughout the season had kept spirits high in the west during a tough year.

“To win three finals and be leading the grand final well into the third quarter made for a good 2021 and there is no shame losing to a Melbourne team of rare form and talent,“ he said.

“We are already looking forward to seeing them give the Dees some payback in the finals next year.

“The question is, when do we pull down all the Doggies decorations from inside and outside the house? Feels like the Demons cancelled Christmas.

“We’re not used to losing grand finals – we’ve won every other one we’ve seen.“

Darcy Rose congratulated the Bulldogs for inspiring so many.

“Be proud of our team in good times and bad and thank them for inspiring us at a horrendously difficult time for us and under extremely difficult playing conditions for them,“ she said.

“They experienced extreme travel, quarantines, bans on training and lack of support in the crowds while forced to play interstate but they soldiered on and lifted our spirits at a time when we needed it the most.

“Are we upset that not they but ’we’ lost? Absolutely, but like us in 2016 Melbourne had the greater drive to win after 57 years without a flag and we were definitely outclassed by a superior side on the day.“

Julie McShanag said fans were feeling very proud of the boys and grateful for a fantastic season and epic finals campaign.

“We had the best time celebrating those wins and that definitely helped us get through lockdown,“ she said.

“We’re sure the team is disappointed but we know they’ll come back bigger, stronger and better than ever next year.

“We just can’t wait to get back to the footy. Watching from home just isn’t the same.“

Maribyrnong mayor Michael Clarke congratulated the Bulldogs on their “bold season“.

“It was a gritty final that showed a lot of courage and heart,“ he said. “We all took pride in seeing the Doggies represent the west in the grand finals.“

Bulldogs chief executive Ameet Bains thanked fans for their support and said when easing of restrictions allowed the club would repay that faith.

“We know how difficult it has been for our members and fans in Victoria to not be able to see the players up close throughout the finals series, at Marvel Stadium, the MCG or at VU Whitten Oval,“ he said.

“As we’ve seen throughout the state in the last few weeks, especially in our heartland of the west, our fans have been incredible in their support of the team, whether they’ve sent messages of support on social media or dressed up themselves or their houses in red, white and blue.

“We want to repay that faith and say thank you, by getting our members and fans together, when it’s safe to do so.

“We’re currently working through some plans, and as always, we’ll be guided by the advice of the state government and the Department of Health, to understand when that might be possible.”