This edition I would like to take the time and and reflect on a human story of the underdog, loyalty, achievement wrapped up in a lot belief and dedication.
Western Bulldogs president Peter Gordan take a bow..
Whoever dreamed like a Western Bulldogs supporter? Almost certainly, no-one has dreamed like their president Peter Gordon.
Through all the years of "struggle" as he likes to call them, sandbagging the club from folding in the early 1990s and more recently fighting to build a football machine capable of contending in September, Gordon has hung onto his dream of a grand final.
The last time the Bulldogs got there was 1961. Gordon's first memories of the club are as a seven-year-old in 1965, when they finished 10th of 12 clubs with just four wins. The following year they finished in identical position, and the year after that, last. Yet Gordon had grown to love them, as he said at the Norm Smith Oration in 2015: "Somehow the Bulldogs in that critical formative period got me for life. Somewhere my psychotherapist is laughing until he wets his pants!"
The passion inherent in Gordon's dream was what drove him to get involved formally with the club in 1989 when they were, in his words, a matter of days from extinction. The then VFL was about to become the AFL, and with ideas of national expansion there was little interest in safeguarding the future of a struggling club west of docklands. Melbourne and Victoria were at the time falling into the grips of recession, and blue-blooded administrators to the north and the east felt Footscray an obvious target for downsizing.
"Well it was in receivership and it was days away from being wound up," Gordon recalled. "The then VFL had plans to raffle off the players to various other clubs and it was I'm sure closer to extinction than any other club has ever been that has survived. It's not the only time it's been close, in 1996 we had our struggles, and I know in the 16 years of David Smorgon's presidency before I came back there were various moments there where the sheriff was nearly at the door.
"It's been a history of struggle, but the moral to the story is that if you continue to struggle and continue to believe eventually a week like this will come along."
As a young and energetic lawyer, Gordon's passion for the Bulldogs was writ large across seven years as club president, from 1989 to 1996. That final year was another grim one, immortalised by the documentary Year Of The Dogs. Exhausted and burnt out, Gordon departed the club and spent some years apart from it, concentrating on his expanding legal practice.
"It's a story of if you keep pushing hard enough the wall breaks down," Gordon said. "I'm very proud of everyone at the club. I couldn't be prouder of Bevo, and Bob Murphy the two men I credit more than anyone else with the turnaround in the club the last two years. I wasn't always sure we'd ever get to this point, but we are at this point, and I couldn't be happier."
Equally, Gordon has overseen an upsurge in support to the point that the club now boasts 40,000 members, 10 times as many as in 1989. "We're really grateful to all of our new corporate partners and to the number of people who wanted to get a women's membership for next year and who are coming along and joining in the fun and jumping on the bandwagon. There's plenty of room, and if we run out of room we'll just build more bandwagon."
"Singing the song, holding up the cup, and then of the team, the club staff, the members and all of our supporters walking the cup through he city together, down Footscray Road, to the Footscray town hall where it last was in 1954, and finally to the Whitten Oval, as the sun sets."
Well done to all the sons for the scray, it was an inspirational victory on so many levels.
Diploma of Financial Planning
Fellow of the A.F.A
Top 10 AFA Adviser of the Year
Dunsford Financial Planning is an Authorised Representative of NOW Financial Group Pty Ltd AFSL No. 411227