Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Grand Final

I found a work around that allowed me to check out the match between the Swans and the Bulldogs. I knew how the match ended, and I paid attention to the first half of the match in real time via gametracker. I even checked out radio broadcasts (professional courtesy) there for a little while.

This was an entertaining game to watch. The 22-point margin for Western Bulldogs does not tell the story of how hard-fought the game was, how neither side scored for the first 7:30 of the opening term, or how this was a one-point lead for WB with eight minutes to go.

But I've watched the same victory celebrations on YouTube for the last two days, and I can't get past how deep this seems to run for Bulldog fans. This is their first premiership since 1954 when they beat Melbourne and they overcame the loss of captain Bob Murphy (more on him in a moment). They were also the seven seed and won three road games in the finals, beating West Coast soundly, getting a win over three-time reigning champs Hawthorn (technically a road game), and winning at GWS before beating Sydney.

I realize that when you win a league title (in any sport) there is much rejoicing and celebrating, but the sheer joyousness of the Bulldog players, coaches, and staff amazed me. I wondered if they would ever run out of hugs. This made me think of how a team plays for its people and citizenry and how it adopts the characteristics of the surrounding community. In this case the people of Footscray, where the Dogs call home and where the team was founded back in 1877. Kind of how the Pittsburgh Steelers are a blue collar-type squad in the NFL.

This was the first time I ever watched the trophy and medal presentation, and it was fascinating how the AFL handles their business. The defeated Swans, losing their second Grand Final in three years, sat on the field at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and watched the Bulldogs celebrate. Captain Kieren Jack stepped to the mic and gave a few words before he joined his mates. That never happens stateside, where we see a few congratulatory handshakes before the vanquished side retreats to their locker room. Not so in the AFL, where the losing team gets salt rubbed in the wound. Seems harsh and a tad unfair, but...

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge called Bob Murphy up on stage and gave him his Jock McHale medal (given to the winning coach), saying he (Murphy) deserved it more than anybody. Extremely classy move, and one that seems to have been very well received. This is another cultural difference, since to my knowledge, pro athletes in the states play very little part in team activities once they've been lost for the season due to injury. Murphy (lost to a knee injury in round 3) was right in there during the celebrations, and the hugs and cheers he got were as big and strong as any I saw.

So season 2016 folds its tents and steals off into the night. This blog? Nope. There's more to say and more to look at.

Don't go anywhere.

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