*** 287 Days is proudly presented by WorkSafe Victoria - No great comebacks happens alone. ***
Football clubs are amazing places.
The Western Bulldogs has always been about more than just the players who pull on the jumper each week. From the senior coach, to Jan who cuts out the letters for the banner each week, to the AFLW team and the families of everyone connected to the Club, there’s an enduring bond. Once a Bulldog person, always a Bulldogs person.
Former skipper Bob Murphy is fond of describing this current crop Western Bulldogs, players and staff alike, as a motley crew, an assorted cast of characters from all over map. They’re all different, some more so than others, but together they make up a unique group worth far than the sum of their parts.
But one common thread is a care for each other than transcends kicks, handballs and scoreboards, and this is never more apparent than when one of that group goes down with a serious injury. And as it does with players every other weekend, Lin Jong suffered a serious knee injury back in June, 2017, and by the end of the game, the group embrace had been set in motion.
Within a couple of days the BulldogsTV cameras began rolling on Lin’s battle to return, and what they captured was the story of an entire Club coming together to nurse one of their own back to health. As expected, there’s the usual shots in the rooms post-match of players embracing, and wishing their teammate well, but what fans don’t usually see is how the players’ partners would also reach out to Krista Fisher, Lin’s girlfriend, to make sure she was doing ok.
It’s Player Welfare Manager Brent Prismall checking in to see if Lin needed a break from the grind of a nine-month rehab, and fans offering words of encouragement in the Club café, and on social media, every single day. It’s the Cheer Squad creating the ‘We’ve missed you, Jongy’ banners in anticipation of his return, and the genuine excitement in Luke Beveridge’s voice when he tells Lin he’s back in the side.
It’s the little things that make a place great, and it’s those moments, and relationships that 287 Days is about.
In particular, Nick Stone, the Club’s Rehab and Conditioning Coach is central to the story. His role in not only Lin’s physical recovery, but also the emotional support and friendship he provides in tough times can’t be overstated. Every player spoken to for this piece couldn’t speak highly enough of Stone and his role in the process.
287 Days takes you from the surgeons table, through the long grind of rehab, to Victoria University’s high-tech training facilities, to the triumphant return to Etihad Stadium, and all the highs and lows in between.
It’s about Lin Jong, but it’s also about the Western Bulldogs and it’s people and the spirit that binds them all.
BulldogsTV All Access: 287 Days, presented by WorkSafe Victoria, will be released Thursday.