Tuesday 26th May, 2020

Been Gone Too Long To Change Back!

We have been Western Bulldogs for awhile now; it is too long to change back?

 Too long, so what do the the inhabitants of St Petersburg think? The city changed back to St Petersburg in 1991. They had not been known as St Petersburg since 1914.

St Petersburg 1703-1914

Petrograd 1914-1924

Leningrad 1924-1991

St Petersburg 1991-

  Someone born in 1914 never knew it as St Petersburg at the start of 1991 when they were 77 years old. Was it too long for it to be changed back? No not at all and it has been.

My kids have grown up only knowing them as Western Bulldogs

 Do your kids still believe in the tooth fairy? Even though they have grown up?

Do your kids still read the Mr Men and Dr Seuss books? Even though they have grown up?

Do your kids still watch Sesame Street and Play School? Even though they have grown up?

What happens when your kids finish school and start work? How do they cope with just 4 weeks annual leave instead of the large number of the 8 weeks of school holidays? How about we change that so all workers in Australia receive 8 weeks annual leave, just like school kids do?

Your kids probably think of them as ‘The Doggies’ and that is all that is apparently important. So

 It is all about my kids, or this generation because that is all that they have known?

Well what about the previous 5 or 6 generations who grew up barracking for Footscray? So can they all get lost- because this generation- is the most important one of the lot? The first two generations of Footscray supporters built the City of Footscray from before it was officially proclaimed as a City in 1859. They also saw the good times of the football club from the late 1890’s through to 1925 and some were still around in 1954. It is funny how after they have died the football club’s fortunes went downwards?

FOOTSCRAY SUPPORTERS THROUGH TIME

1883- 1963 Someone born in 1883 and died in 1963 would have seen 10 Footscray Premierships in their 80 years.

1932-: Someone born in 1932 and still alive would have seen two Footscray Grand Finals and that one Premiership in 1954 from their 80- years.

1952-: Someone born in 1952 should remember the 1961 Grand Final, though they won’t have any recollection of the 1954 Grand Final. So in their 60 years they would hopefully recall one solitary Grand Final from when they were nine years of age.

1969-: Someone born in 1969 has never seen a Grand Final so obviously they have never seen a Premiership

1992-: Now someone born in 1992 won’t remember the Footscray name as all they have grown up with is Western Bulldogs. Like someone born in 1969 they will never have seen a Grand Final.

However someone with a reasonable memory born in 1969 has seen:

  • A club record score- in 1977: Essendon v Footscray 29.15.189
  • The above club record broken in 1978: Footscray v St Kilda 33.15.213 (this was also for a time the competitions highest score)
  • A few matches where 10 goals have been kicked by a Footscray player, Simon Beasley did it on 5 occasions and Kelvin Templeton kicked 10 and five more goals at the above mentioned game in 1978.
  • A Footscray player kicks 100 goals in a season- Kelvin Templeton in 1978 and Simon Beasley in 1985
  • A Footscray player leading the competitions goal kicking at the end of the Home and Away season- Kelvin Templeton in 1978 and 1979, Simon Beasley in 1985. Their totals were not surpassed by any other player during the finals in those years
  • A club record winning margin- 120 points for Footscray v Melbourne 1985

The supporter born in 1992 though has not seen any of these achievements matched or bettered.

  • The club record  highest score of 213 points from 1978 still stands
  • The previous best highest  score of 189 points from 1977 has not been reached
  • The 15 goals from Kelvin Templeton in that 1978 game have not been equalled.
  •  No one has kicked 10 goals or more in a game since Simon Beasley did it in 1987.
  • No one has kicked 100 goals in a season since Simon Beasley in 1985
  • No one  has  lead the competitions goal kicking at the end of the Home and Away season- *
  • The club record winning margin has not been surpassed since it last happened in 1985

* The 1992 born supporter has seen Barry Hall surpass the competitions highest total during a season (in 2010), however as this was done in the finals, he didn’t win the Coleman Medal unlike Beasley and Templeton (Kelvin was given his retrospectively)

So all in all the 1992 born supporter has seen less achievement as Western Bulldogs than what a 1969 born supporter has seen as Footscray until the end of 1996. There is a seven year gap, but if we made 1969 born 1976 born, there is still more joy for someone in the period of 1976-1996 than 1992-2012.

There have been 7 Preliminary Final appearances since the winning one of 1961, two as Footscray in 1985 and 1992 then the other 5 as Western Bulldogs in 1997,1998,2008,2009 and 2010. However making the 1985 and 1992 Preliminary Finals were a bigger achievement, because prior to 1994 the Preliminary Final was just one game and not the two that it is now. Precisely speaking a pre 1994 Preliminary Final is higher up the food chain because it was the 2nd biggest game of the season. All Preliminary Finals from 1994 onwards are the EQUAL second most important clash of the year. The correct ranking (even if rather pedantic) of Preliminary Finals is especially meaningful to us because we haven’t won any of these seven! In a nutshell all Preliminary Finals from 1993 and before are more prestigious than those from 1994 and all since.

The 1969 born supporter feels rightly deprived, in what has been “OUR LOT” over the journey however the parent of the 1992 born says

Don’t change the name back- as my kids have only known them as Western Bulldogs

Well buddy- your kids only know Western Bulldogs-so surely you realise that in following the same club that you did (with the different name of course) that in supporting “the doggies” (whatever you do don’t mention the F word,) your kids have known hardly anything- and they will be 21 years of age next year.

BUT WHAT WILL BE GAINED BY CHANGING BACK?

   Well what has been gained by changing in the first place? Reverting back to Footscray reverses a wrong for a start. Why maintain a controversial and divisive change if it hasn’t achieved anything? Our membership is still one of the lowest in Victoria, it never increased sufficiently to justify such a radical change in all of the 16 seasons as Western. Compared with all other Victorian clubs our membership has hardly improved in real terms from 1996 -2012. More damning is that it never increased markedly in the years of limited success (i.e. reaching Preliminary Finals)

Western is not an emotive rallying word in Australia and it alone will not attract people to the club no matter where they are domiciled. People without an allegiance that are living or moving into Werribee, Caroline Springs, Tarneit, etc will not be automatically and exclusively attracted to an AFL club who plays most of their home games on the fringe of the Melbourne CBD, due that team in the competition having the word Western before its nickname in its title.

Changing it back to Footscray will gain members who were lost to the club. It will also increase the commitment of those who just buy an ordinary membership and do nothing else. I personally would raise my membership to a full HOME and AWAY one if the club was Footscray.  I would also buy reserved seats for the season along with purchasing the 18 game membership package. However as it remains Western, I hold just a 11 game membership and the social club (which seems like a pure donation for what we get for it) and nothing more.

The club has not progressed far enough with the directional nickname. The ‘’what is the point of changing back’’ is a completely defeatist argument because there is no real success to support its retention. If the club had a membership of over 50,000 and 90% of them were from the western suburbs of Melbourne, then you could argue that the club is taking off with its core target. However it clearly isn’t, the interest for the team is disproportionally low for the entire hullabaloo that surrounds the western hoopla.  We need the change….. back and we need it pronto.