Thousands of Western Bulldogs supporters packed Whitten Oval in Footscray on Sunday to welcome home their premiership-winning team.
Lines of fans stretched around the block to get into the club’s training base and former home ground, with some camping out overnight to be first to greet the premiership side.
— Iskhandar Razak (@Isk137) October 2, 2016
Each of the players was introduced to the sun-drenched crowd at Whitten Oval and perhaps the loudest cheer was reserved for injured captain Bob Murphy, who missed much of the season because of a knee injury.
Murphy had been welcomed on stage at the MCG during the trophy presentation on Saturday in what was among the most heart-warming of moments when coach Luke Beveridge handed him his premiership medal.
It was a selfless act appreciated by the Bulldogs faithful on Sunday, with the assembled crowd chanting “Bevo, Bevo” as Beveridge, who is only in his second season as coach, was introduced.
“Bob has driven the emotional and spiritual side of our club for a long period of time but more specifically in the two years I’ve been involved,” Beveridge told the Whitten Oval crowd.
“More than any of us he deserved to be up on that dais and I’d like to thank the AFL for making that happened … the 22 boys who played couldn’t think of a more fitting finish for Murph.”
The premiership trophy was held aloft again by Murphy and stand-in captain Easton Wood, with the Bulldogs players standing arm in arm as the supporters wildly applauded.
Murphy explained his post-final siren reaction, as he expressed his admiration for his team-mates
“I couldn’t do much yesterday, hitting my chest, hitting my heart was the best way I could describe the way we all feel about these 22 boys,” he said.
“They play with an incredible amount of heart. We love them.”
Bulldogs captain Bob Murphy
Bob Murphy (C) and Luke Beveridge (L) at Whitten Oval. Photo: ABC
“This is unbelievably overwhelming,” Beveridge said.
“Obviously this will be imprinted in our minds forever until we turn the soil and end up in the ground.
“To see so much blue, red and white, all our devoted supporters, seeing toddlers down here who have been forced to support us by their parents and to see supporters who are quite ill, who have forced themselves to get down here to make sure they experience it … it is quite overwhelming.”
Celebrations set to continue for Bulldogs fans
Bulldogs supporter Shane Petrovski, who attended the grand final, had waited at Whitten Oval overnight to greet the players.
“I’ve been here since 6:30pm last night and I couldn’t be prouder of the coach, the players and the supporters around us,” he said.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life.”
Bulldogs supporter Shane Petrovsk
For many Bulldogs supporters, the grand final win was a long time coming.
Angie Collins has supported the Bulldogs for more the 40 years and brought a good luck charm to the match.
“I found an old newspaper clipping for the newspaper after the Dogs last won (the premiership) and I had to bring it with me,” she said.
“It was a sign that it was own turn, our time to win.”
The Bulldogs’ grand final victory was the fourth most-watched match in VFL/AFL history, with a combined metropolitan and regional average of 4.089 million free to air viewers.