TEAM OF THE YEAR

GQ (Australia) - - GQ INC. -

‘We’ve beaten all the oth­ers, de­fied all the odds, to­day this team of pup­pies be­come true bull­gods.’ So read the Western Bull­dogs’ ban­ner on the first Satur­day in Oc­to­ber – Grand Fi­nal day, the team’s first show­ing in the ul­ti­mate AFL de­cider since 1961.

Com­pared to the words they’d run through dur­ing the 2016 sea­son, co­me­dian Danny Mcgin­lay had cho­sen to keep things sim­ple, to the point. Where he’d pre­vi­ously poked fun at ev­ery­thing from Perth cof­fee prices to Syd­ney lock­out laws, to­day spoke of what lay ahead: four quar­ters of bru­tal phys­i­cal­ity against a surg­ing Syd­ney Swans.

The boys in the blue, white and red were true un­der­dogs, never ex­pected to be there in front of nearly 100,000 at the MCG on a clear, crisp day. Be­cause no one comes from sev­enth to claim a flag – cer­tainly not af­ter los­ing Bob Mur­phy, cap­tain and true heart and soul of the club,

to a sea­son-end­ing ACL in­jury; not af­ter los­ing Mitch Wal­lis for the sea­son, or Tom Lib­er­a­tore (at least tem­po­rar­ily) as they turned for home. And cer­tainly not af­ter los­ing to the Fre­man­tle Dock­ers in the last game of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

But the Bull­dogs snarled and barked – they brought down the West Coast Ea­gles with a thump, did the un­think­able by knock­ing out the Hawks as they flew for a fourth ti­tle, and then, dare to dream, held on to oust Greater Western Syd­ney by a kick.

And so to the ‘G’. Be­cause ev­ery dog has its day – and this was to be theirs, a day of reck­on­ing and re­mem­brance, of sports­man­ship (coach Luke Bev­eridge hand­ing Mur­phy his pre­mier­ship medal,

a point to cher­ish), brav­ery (not least Dale Morris and his abil­ity to play out the en­tire fi­nals cam­paign with a bro­ken back) and throb­bing emo­tion. This was a win most un­likely. And yet they were there – a pre­mier­ship 62 years in the mak­ing; these young­sters, these pups, true bull­gods now.

TOO OF­TEN IN CON­TEM­PO­RARY SPORT, ACUTE PRO­FES­SION­AL­ISM AND MONEY OVER­TAKE EMO­TION IN THE RUN TO GREAT­NESS. NOT THIS YEAR – NOT WITH THE ‘TEAM OF THE MIGHTY WEST’ PRO­DUC­ING A THROW­BACK WIN BUILT ON PAS­SION, GRIT AND GUTS.

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