*Disclaimer: sport stuff*
They say every dog has its day, but until this weekend there were surely some long-suffering Western Bulldogs fans wondering whether there was any truth to the phrase.
In breaking its 62-year premiership drought on Saturday, Footscray captured the hearts of millions of neutral footy fans like myself, watching on because I suppose that’s just what people do on Grand Final day.
I can only imagine what it would actually mean to the die-hard fans, many of whom have waited their entire lives to see the Bulldogs play in a Grand Final, to watch their club finally bring home the cup again.
For the players and their families – the club has a high ratio of second generation footballers – it might well be the ultimate experience.
These are people who have dedicated blood, sweat, tears and all of the other sporting clichés to the cause of a club which until Saturday had just one success to show for some 90 years of history.
Sport doesn’t make sense to a lot of people, and fair enough. Remove the emotion and the narrative of the experience and you’re left with a field full of people chasing a ball around for two hours.
The beauty of the 2016 Grand Final was the absolute strength of the narrative – even those who don’t understand the allure of sport might have felt something other than boredom in watching it.
It was remarkable, and a reminder of why people choose to play the game despite all the running and jumping and skills required.
Ten years ago I was actually lucky enough to play in a junior football premiership with a bunch of really talented people who are no doubt as proud as I am at this point.
I haven’t kicked a footy for about five years, and even if I had this day in 2006 is the closest I’ll ever get to playing in an AFL flag.
Fortunately the same doesn’t go for everyone in the team. Yesterday’s Norm Smith Medallist was also a 14-year-old kid running around in a Willetton jumper against Bull Creek-Leeming that day.
Watching Jason Johannisen carve up on the biggest stage of all was phenomenal, and testament to the years of hard work and sacrifice he’s put in in pursuit of his dreams.
Yesterday he led the Dogs to the least likely premiership of the modern era – a win for the ages from seventh on the ladder. It was no under-14s premiership but it sure came close.
I don’t usually bet to the point where I had to ask the man at the TAB for help filling out the piece of paper, but like many people I know I did have a bit of sentimental cash on Jason to win the Norm Smith.
The profit is more than enough to cover return flights between New York and LA, so if it happens I guess I’ll have JJ and his Doggies to thank.
Still no word on that front, though.