Outgoing Western Bulldogs president Peter Gordon has made the startling admission he didn’t believe his club was capable of defeating the Sydney Swans in the 2016 AFL grand final.
In fact Gordon, who served as president from 1989-1996 and 2012-2020, said he was “bewildered” the Bulldogs had qualified and simply hoped they wouldn’t “embarrass” themselves on the biggest stage.
While the red-hot Swans had won the minor premiership and were stacked with Lance Franklin, Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker, Jarrad McVeigh, Kieren Jack, Dane Rampe and a host of other superstars, the Dogs had finished the regular season in seventh and were largely a team of unheralded footballers.
But Luke Beveridge’s men would pull off a miracle to secure the club’s first premiership in 62 years.
“The fact we were there at all was still bewildering to me, and truthfully, the inner Bulldog in me, the west Footscray boy – I just hoped we didn’t embarrass ourselves,” Gordon told the Herald Sun.
“There was a feeling of dread when they kicked the first goal. Toby McLean kicked a goal with a few seconds to go at half-time and it kept us within a few points. The sense we might be humiliated was gone.”
Gordon said it wasn’t long until the Dogs’ epic performance began to wash his fears away.
“It was so surreal and then my friend Tom (Boyd) starts taking these marks in the third quarter and the moment in that last quarter … there is no other player who symbolises the grit and spirit of Footscray than Dale Morris,” Gordon said.
“He brought down Lance Franklin in that tackle and then Tom kicks the goal. You can’t write that stuff.
“Even today I can’t even describe it.
“At around the time of the Tom Boyd goal, Gil McLachlan said, ‘Are you ready to go down onto the field?’
“I was down there in the race and I have rarely heard a noise like it.”
An MCG crowd of 99,981 witnessed the Dogs win their first VFL/AFL premiership since 1954.