Being a Bulldog
"You need to be strong to be a Bullies supporter," my mother-in-law says, and she should know; she's been a staunch Western Bulldog all her life. Family legend has it that her mother washed the team's jumpers after Footscray's one and only premiership in 1954*.
Joy has learned to live with dashed hopes, promising starts that fizzle into nothing, years of being the poorest, most struggling club in the league, years of being just not good enough. Her instinct is to assume the worst. Michael refuses to sit next to her at games because of her persistent, superstitious negativity. We might be fifty points up at three quarter time, but "You never know..." Joy shakes her head dolefully and refuses to celebrate until the final siren. Even then, it's not so much elation as relief.
When Rodney Eade took over as coach, he commented on the side's lack of confidence. It's an attitude the supporters share. Even when we're doing well, we can't quite believe it. We've seen the wheels fall off too many times. No one hates the Bulldogs, because we've never been a threat.
At work, Michael sits near a Collingwood supporter. She says, "I always tip the Magpies, and I always think they're going to win." Michael says, "I always tip the Bulldogs, and I always think they're going to lose."
So we'll be watching the game against the Cats on telly tomorrow night, resisting the temptation to switch on the radio and find out what's happening in real time, and we'll fight the usual battle between excruciating hope and the familiar comfy slippers of despair.
* though actually, it turns out this story isn't true. But why spoil a family legend?? And yes, that's right, 1954. There's an entire generation of Doggies supporters who have never seen their team bring home the big one. NEVER. I wonder if indoctrinating Alice and Evie into the Dogs is a form of child abuse?