By Michael Giles
BRUCE Clifton, now deceased, used to be a bank manager at Leongatha in the 1960s and a great Footscray supporter.
My cousins, the Gannons of Leongatha, had chosen various footy teams to support in their early days, until offered the chance to join the Clifton family on their regular footy trips to Melbourne.
The only proviso was that they had to barrack for Footscray.
Certainly no glamour club and starved for success, they didn’t present well to a young footy lover but at least you got to go to the games.
For years, the members of the family who got on board with the Doggies back then, have secretly blamed Bruce Clifton for their predicament, and even considered changing over to Adelaide when a family member married one of the Crows players recently.
But John Gannon stuck fast to the red, white and blue and during a 20-year working life in the UK, he tentatively booked flights home three times when the Bulldogs figured in preliminary finals.
But it wasn’t to be. The flights were cancelled, time and time again.
For the entire 54 years of his life, his team has never even made it to a grand final, let alone win one, and had more often than not been languishing near the bottom of the ladder, out of calculations and, just as disappointingly, out of the footy conversation.
Now back in Australia, living in Queensland, he wasn’t about to miss the club’s first opportunity in 55 years to break through, and despite still being on crutches from a recent knee reconstruction, he flew down on the morning of the game.
And what unfolded in the great game on Saturday made the long, long wait worthwhile, and then some.
He had Bruce Clifton to thank for being part of that select band of true believers who rode every bump and every score on Saturday, not daring to dream with even minutes to go, when the Bulldogs surged to a commanding lead.
He celebrated long and hard on Saturday night and went back to the kennel on Sunday before flying home on Monday… what a weekend!
His story will be repeated right across Victoria, where long-suffering Doggies fans have finally tasted the ultimate success. Congratulations. You deserve it.
There’s something else taking place this week – oh yes – the voting packs in the local government elections will arrive by mail this week and residents are asked to take their choices seriously.
It’s not going to be 62 years, but if we get stuck with another dud or dysfunctional council this time around, four years will feel like an absolute eternity.