AFL grand final parade: for this day, all Melbourne is Footscray

by admin on April 20th, 2019

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Parade day: Western Bulldogs fans outnumbered their Swans counterparts. Photo: Justin McManus You could almost feel the sigh of desire from all those Bulldogs supporters, denied ownership of the premiership cup since the club’s single great year. Photo: Justin McManus
Nanjing Night Net

Robert Murphy of the Bulldogs smiles as his team are presented on stage. Photo: Darrian Traynor

Jarrad McVeigh and his daughter take part in the parade. Photo: Darrian Traynor

All Melbourne appeared to have turned out … and all Melbourne, it seemed, was there for the Western Bulldogs.

From the old Treasury building, down Spring Street, along Wellington Parade, clear into Yarra Park outside the MCG, the fabulous coliseum that gave this parade its meaning, the crowd lining the route, 10 or 20 deep for long stretches, wore red, white and blue.

Even the members of the Army marching band that led the great procession wore Bulldogs scarves around their necks.

Why, a scarf was draped over the big bass drum that gave the march its very pulse.

Right behind, borne by a team of strong young porters, as if it were fragile and valuable as an artefact from an ancient tomb, came the cup, glinting in the midday light.

You could almost feel the sigh of desire from all those Bulldogs supporters, denied ownership of the premiership cup since the club’s single great year: 1954.

It took a while, elbowing our way through the crowd along Spring Street, to find a single person wearing the livery of the Sydney Swans.

“Do you feel lonely?” we asked the fellow from the north, whose name, he said, was Peter Williams.

“Not really,” he said. “I’ve got a crew with me over there.” Mr Williams, of Wollongong, had taken most of the week to drive down with his wife Carol; they were making a little holiday of it. A couple of carloads of friends had come along, too, and were gathered, a splash of red amid the Bulldogs hordes, by the paradeway. Some of them, Mr Williams confided, weren’t actually Swans  supporters. They went for Greater Western Sydney, but would be loyal to Sydney on Saturday.

“We’re quietly confident,” he said, in that way some football fans who feel assured of their chances have of trying to avoid condescension when in the opposition’s territory.

The Bulldogs’ legions had no time for false modesty. Not after six decades of waiting.

As the parade of players and officials, bands, marching teams and the Carlton Brewery clydesdales drawing a wagon of barrels swung from Spring Street into Wellington Parade, a cheeky bunch of Bulldogs supporters held high at the corner a large home-made sign.

“We will beat the Swans by a mile,” it proclaimed. “Yes we’ll do them Doggies Style.”

Despite the dire predictions by weather forecasters all week of a soaking, there would be no rain upon this parade.

The players rode by, dry, on the back of utes. The crowd roared.

This was a town in search of a fairytale, and the first stage of it had been delivered from above.

The sun shone from a blue sky, with barely more than a wisp of cloud up high.

As the sound of the marching bands oompahed and beat their way into the distance, heading for the heavenly arena down by the Yarra, the Treasury Gardens filled with families unwrapping sandwiches and little kids and their dads kicking footballs around.

The park was a roiling, hopeful shout of red, white and blue.

Melbourne, for this day at least, was Footscray.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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