Shepparton News

JOHN TO DON HIS JUMPERS

- By Liam Nash

Although no drugs were on show, for one man at Dookie’s Gladstone Hotel on the night of October 1, 2016, ecstasy was in the air.

Western Bulldogs super fan and Goulburn Valley native John Kealey watched on in awe inside the tavern as his beloved boys in blue beat away Sydney Swans to claim their first flag of the modern era.

Kealey is the proud owner of a fine cache of Doggies guernseys stretching all the way back to the Footscray epoch, and you can bet the one he was wearing was in grave danger of a few amber ale spills that night.

“I might have had a few frothies under my belt and my mate filmed me when we won — it was a great day,” Kealey said.

Come September 25, he might get the chance to return to the “scene of the crime” and do it all again.

With the Bulldogs booking a spot in their first big dance since 2016, Kealey is already gearing up to make a splash at his local should the side repeat its 2016 feat which roused Kealey to ultimate levels of euphoria.

Even his mother Sarah has heard of Kealey’s famous horseplay, stating he was “off his chops” that night.

Which makes sense. “John has been a Bulldogs fan ever since he could talk,” Sarah said.

“His grandmothe­r, who he never met, was a fierce Bulldogs supporter and he’s followed in her footsteps.

“He collects all the jerseys and even has the 2016 one with all the Bulldogs’ signatures, and that’s pretty precious to him.”

Kealey placed his collection somewhere in the 20s and noted his favourite was a Jordon Sweet-signed “fightback” guernsey which pays homage to the club’s Western Oval rally in 1989 which essentiall­y saved the club from collapse.

“I reckon I’d have about 22 or so — basically a lot,” he said.

“I got my first one in around 2011 and went from there, I probably have some from before that, but I don’t know where they are.”

His connection to the Bulldogs goes far beyond memorabili­a, as Sarah pointed out.

She’s watched her son grow up to become a barking mad Dogs fan and knows how much it would mean should they take out their second f lag of the century on Saturday week.

“His knowledge of the whole team is amazing, he

even went to primary school with Alex Keath,” she said.

“He does try and get down to the games, but it’s been hard with everything that’s happened over the last couple of years.

“He doesn’t miss a game on the telly if he can’t get down there.”

Unfortunat­ely, with the COVID-19 climate pushing the AFL grand final to Western

Australia’s Optus Stadium, the likelihood of Kealey attending is slim.

However, lockdown permitting, the Dookie pub will certainly be calling his name — and Kealey only has one thing on his mind should the Dogs get over the line.

“I’ll be getting another Bulldogs tattoo, that’s for sure.”

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 ??  ?? Ready to roar: Western Bulldogs super fan John Kealey is gearing up for his side’s grand final battle with Melbourne on Saturday week.
Ready to roar: Western Bulldogs super fan John Kealey is gearing up for his side’s grand final battle with Melbourne on Saturday week.

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