It It is a tradition of this blog dating back 12 months that sometime in September I reflect on the year that was for the Western Bulldogs.
My intention was to write this in late, very late, September. But it wasn’t to be.
2011 was THE year.
I had mentally filled in my leave form for the entire month of the finals so as not to miss out.
And at the end of it … who knows, but it was to be another glorious campaign.
But it wasn’t to be.
It was frustrating, disappointing and, at times, confusing.
But hey ho.
If anything I love my Doggies more than ever.
I have seen them in difficult times and they are still an identifiable team (not unit or group) and that speaks volumes.
The departure of Callan Ward diminishes that team, but doesn’t demolish it.
(And by the way, anybody who thinks CW is disloyal for chasing the big bucks has obviously not been living in an Australia where the measure of human happiness is apparently the size of your plasma screen.)
The new captain Matthew Boyd led by example, Robert Murphy was classy and some of the youngsters gave your heart a thrill.
And then there’s Daniel Giansiracusa.
Some ex-AFL player whose name escapes me questioned Gia’s ability on the eve of his 200th game.
Gia’s response was to kick goal after goal and much more.
And that example of someone responding to negativity in the best way possible gets me to this.
Sport remains a great teacher.
The players regularly respond to challenges that can’t be shirked in the full glare of the mega media.
As for the fans, they are on a never-ending journey of delight and faux-misery.
Most importantly for me, it’s about the kids.
Six year olds are discovering that not everyone can win, that their favourite player is leaving them & there’s nothing they can do about it and that expectations can be false.
I don’t see those life lessons much to the fore elsewhere.
True, losing a footy game is not like losing a friend or sibling or love affair or dream, but it is about dealing with something you would rather not be dealing with.
And that ain’t a bad lesson.
You are stuck with your team, woe betide you if you jump ship because that is a sign of much more than Sherrin promiscuity.
Like your family and your core friends (and yourself) your team is a constant.
Sometimes a joy, sometimes sad beyond measure, sometimes a pain, sometimes a mess.
And that sentence sums up not just the Bulldogs’ 2011.