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Dunkley tastes premiership glory for Bulldogs against father's former side

Ben Guthrie (AFL Media)  October 5, 2016 4:08 PM

AFL 2016 Toyota AFL Grand Final - Sydney v Western Bulldogs

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01: Josh Dunkley of the Bulldogs accepts his medal during the 2016 Toyota AFL Grand Final match between the Sydney Swans and the Western Bulldogs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 01, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/AFL Media)

I think our young players really repaid 'Bevo's' faith in us today

ANDREW Dunkley found it difficult sitting in the MCG stands riding every bump, as he watched his son Josh become a premiership player in his first season of football for the Western Bulldogs.

But the former champion Swans defender, who played in the 1996 AFL Grand Final against North Melbourne, did not experience mixed emotions as his old side went down.

Rather, he was just beaming with pride at what his son had accomplished as the pair embraced in the victor's rooms after the game.

"It's easier playing than what it is watching that's for sure," Andrew Dunkley told AFL.com.au.

"We're a very proud family. Josh has worked his butt off to get to where he has and it's a credit to him. It's his first year of footy and he's a premiership player, it's pretty exciting isn't it?"

Josh Dunkley was just seven months old when his father played on North Melbourne's Wayne Carey in the 1996 Grand Final, a game the Kangaroos won by 43 points.

At age 19, Josh Dunkley became the youngest player in his team to win a premiership medal.

"It's hard to explain. The emotions going through this room right now are unbelievable," Josh Dunkley said.

"I'm standing in the middle of the MCG today on Grand Final day and 'I'm like how am I doing this'?"

The irony in Dunkley's premiership journey is that he could well have been wearing the red and white jumper on Saturday and playing for the team his father represented on 217 occasions.

Josh Dunkley spent most of his draft year undecided on whether he wanted to play for the Swans, but eventually nominated the club as a potential destination via the father-son rule in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft.

The Swans did not match the Bulldogs' second-round bid for the midfielder, but as AFL.com.au revealed earlier this week a good-natured deal was struck to ensure Dunkley would stay close to his family in Yarram in country Victoria.

As soon as Dunkley joined the Bulldogs, landing at the Whitten Oval with pick No.25 in last year's draft, he impressed and earned an instant opportunity to play senior footy in the opening round of the season against Fremantle.

After playing the first two games of the season, coach Luke Beveridge sent the youngster back to the VFL to work on his midfield craft, so that he would come back into the senior team a better player.

“Dogs

Dunkley returned in round 10 but went back out again after round 13. Consistent VFL form eventually got him the nod in round 17 and he never left the side after that.

His 15 disposals and effort to lay seven tackles against the Swans epitomised the Bulldogs' dogged approach to the contest.

"Bevo (Luke Beveridge) and the coaching staff really backed me in. After the first couple of games they said go out and work on a couple of things," Josh Dunkley said.

"When I came back in they liked the way I went about it and I had another game out and then went back in and I've played ever since.

"I think our young players really repaid 'Bevo's' faith in us today."

Andrew Dunkley said the trust Beveridge and his coaching comrades had in their young players was testament to their premiership victory.

"I think there's a lot of trust in what they do in the whole group, and in particular in their young players," Dunkley said.

"That's what I liked about today. The Swans' top end is unbelievable, but I reckon they tail off a bit.

"The Bulldogs are a lot more even across the board and they proved that today."