After spending my formative years in Victoria which is the home of all things AFL, it was almost inevitable that I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Aussie rules to the point of obsession. Despite living in various locations around the world since and developing a fondness for other football codes, AFL still remains my number one sporting love.
My team of choice is the Western Bulldogs who were formerly known as Footscray. I have always been a very firm believer in choosing one team and following it for life as to chop and change between teams because of friends, lovers or circumstance means that you are NOT a true dyed-in-the-wool supporter. As a big AFL fan, that is not a label I want to be tagged with. Consequently, I have supported the Bulldogs for most of my life. Even with my Dad's best efforts to convince me as a child to support Essendon by regularly offering me a dollar note (which was enough to keep me in Barney Bananas and mixed lollies for weeks at a time back then and therefore a pretty good incentive), it just wasn't enough to make the Bombers my team. Instead, I came to conclusion to support the Bulldogs on my own when I was about 4 years old and have stuck with it ever since. My decision was based upon our pet dog at the time, Larry. Larry was the bestest dog ever, we hung out, he followed me everywhere I went and we both loved to share the same ice-cream, one lick for me and another lick for Larry. Therefore, I decided that as Larry was a dog, I needed to support the Bulldogs as a show of solidarity with him. It didn't matter that Larry was actually a fluffy, ginger-coloured chihuahua and probably the dog least likely to resemble a bulldog in any way, shape or form. Larry was a dog and so the Bulldogs were the team for me even with Dad's bribes thrown into the mix.
What I didn't realise at the time was just how much heartache supporting the Bulldogs was going to lead me to, long after I grew up and Larry went to the great puppy playground in the sky. For despite the sentimental reasons for choosing them and my dedication to the cause over the last 30 years, the Bulldogs have not rewarded me...not one little bit. The Bulldogs are one of the worst teams in the AFL having only won one premiership in the entire history of the league and this event being well over 20 years before I was born. In fact, the last time the Bulldogs were actually in the AFL Grand Final (only to lose of course), I wasn't even a twinkle in my parents eyes. Sure, we have had our fair share of Brownlow medallists and colourful characters but as any true AFL supporter will tell you, a Grand Final win trumps all other rewards.
When I married Eady, I thought this would give me the option of taking on a second favourite team, one that would allow me to experience the satisfaction of being linked to a winning team without forgoing my beloved-if-extremely-frustrating Bulldogs. Well, it's pretty safe to say that I didn't do my homework very well. Eady supports St Kilda, the only other team in the history of the AFL to have won only one premiership. Over the last 2 seasons, our teams have had to play each other in the Preliminary Final to decide which team makes it into the AFL Grand Final. On both occasions, the Bulldogs lost. Whilst it was devastating to me to get so close only to miss out, there was some consolation that my second favourite team did in fact make it to GF day. But then the Saints lost the GF 2 years running! At the time I didn't know whether to be sad that my second favourite team couldn't even show me what it was to be a winner at the MCG on the last day in September (or the first week in October as it happened last year) or be relieved that there is still one other team with a record as dismal as the Bulldogs.
All I can say now is that it is pretty certain that neither the Bulldogs or the Saints are likely to be serious finals contenders this year, let alone premiership winners. So with the usual status-quo of our respective teams now restored and dreams of GF wins put on hold for another year, we can relax and resume our moaning about supporting two dud teams. A situation that luckily we have had plenty of time to get used to...