Good afternoon Bulldogs faithful,
Today, the AFL announced the resumption of training for Clubs across the competition from Monday May 18, and the return of the 2020 season on Thursday, June 11.
The last eight weeks has been an incredibly difficult challenge – an agonising period of uncertainty and heightened anxiety for the players, coaches, staff, and of course for you, our members and fans.
Our players have been working hard behind the scenes preparing for a return to training, to make sure they’re ready to maximise the opportunity ahead of them.
Our ambitions for 2020 and what we hope to achieve this season haven’t changed, and we know there’s a lot of work to do to atone for our disappointing Round 1 performance against Collingwood.
Things will be different from Monday. They won’t be ‘normal’ for some time, for any of us. But footy is on the way back, and that’s enough to warm all of our hearts for now.
We’re all looking forward to seeing the boys back out on the field again. We know there’s still a long way to go before our fans can return to stadiums, but having football back in our lives is an important first step in the journey.
Many AFL Club members who’ve understood that games without crowds are inevitable, are understandably asking for refunds. But not our Club. Our survey of over 4000 members showed an overwhelming desire to help the Club out financially during this crisis, despite the significant loss of games value this year.
Heart-warming as it was, it wasn’t all that surprising. Because soldiering on in adversity and standing up when it counts is the essence of our Club. It’s an essence forged in blood and boots (thanks Danny McGinlay). That connection between our Club and the supporters who love it remains strong and enduring. But every now and then, circumstances shine a particular light on that unique Bulldogs quality.
As it did in October 1989 when the Club was saved under Peter Gordon’s leadership and the support of many, including thousands of pensioners who handed over their pension cheques.
As it did when David Smorgon and his group stepped in to again save the Club in 1996.
As it did at three quarter time of the Hawthorn game in 1971 when EJ Whitten said to his players “you’ve got to show me all the guts and determination you’ve got in you”.
As it did again with minutes to go, scores tied, in the 2016 Preliminary Final when Tom Liberatore got a ball forward to Jack Macrae, who went back, composed himself and kicked one of the defining goals of this modern Bulldog era.
The preparedness of so many members to support the Club with their membership dollars through this tough time, even without the benefit of being able to attend games, says something really important about the timeless and enduring spirit of this Club.
It characterises what it means to be ‘bred Bulldog’.
For those many members willing and able to still support the Club financially in 2020, your commitment keeps us strong as a Club, as does the ongoing support of our loyal and long-standing commercial and community partners.
It keeps alive the dream of continuing to redevelop our home at VU Whitten Oval.
It makes it possible for us to complete our exit from the gaming machine industry.
It keeps good people in jobs.
Next week, we will announce measures to respond to the changed membership circumstances for the balance of 2020.
For those who commit to fully support the Club, we will outline the ways in which we will express our gratitude and acknowledgement.
For those who seek a partial refund, we also express our gratitude. We know that these are tough times for everyone and that not everyone can afford to make the choice about Bulldogs membership that they’d like to.
And for those who need to make other arrangements, we understand your circumstances have changed since you became a 2020 member. We are grateful to you too, and hope you are managing as best you can, given the significant personal challenges you each face. We will also set out the processes by which we can discuss refunding your membership contributions with you.
Regardless of the path you choose, you will continue to be an important part of our Bulldogs family. Continue to stay safe and take care.