Footscray Wins the Flag!

The VFL flag, but still!

By First Dog On The Moon
The Footscray faithful turned out in force yesterday for the 2014 VFL Grand Final at Etihad between Footscray and the Box Hill Hawks. The crowd of 23, 816 (I think) was the largest for a VFL game in 25 years; it was 9,000 greater than last year's Grand Final between the Box Hill Hawks and Geelong, and I would estimate that 90% of the crowd were there for the Bulldogs.

Points to note:
1. This was Footscray's first year in the VFL competition with a stand-alone side. That's right, it was a first year team. All year, they had emphasised that the Footscray VFL side was there to promote the development of the AFL side, a place to play the youngsters and train them up; winning games was secondary. But we won 15 out of our last 16 games, finished the season second on the ladder, and now we are VFL Premiers! What an extraordinary achievement.

2. Western Bulldogs/Footscray haven't won a premiership of any kind since 1954. There's been one other reserves victory, and the pre-season comp a few years ago, but otherwise the cupboard is bare. Most of the supporters in the crowd yesterday have never seen their team in a Grand Final, let alone winning one. Is it any wonder that people were crying? (Not me. Well, maybe just a little bit.)

3. It was a great game of football. The Hawks were three goals up at one stage; the lead kept changing hands. But the final quarter was a blinder. The Hawks were hamstrung by injuries to a couple of players (no subs at VFL!) and Cyril Rioli, their superstar, was pulled off at three quarter time in case Hawthorn want to play him next week in the Really Big Final. And the Footscray boys went beserk! We kicked three goals in three minutes to draw level, then three more to seal the victory. (Liam Jones, we never doubted you!) The crowd were on their feet, pushing Footscray home by sheer force of will and rowdy noise.

4. At the end of the game, the crowd spilled onto the ground. It's safe to say that they were a pretty happy bunch. It was wonderful to part of such a big, joyful mass of people.

5. I don't give a rats who wins next week. That's my year in football over. But wow, what a way to end it.

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