Red, white and blue proudly ran through the veins of Paul Schwedes.

And on Friday night, he will be at Marvel Stadium – at least, in cardboard cut-out form. 

Paul passed away almost a year ago, aged 81, after a life-time of cheering on Footscray and the Western Bulldogs.

When the opportunity arose to have him represented in the crowd, his family jumped at it. 

“When I heard about the virtual cheer squad, I thought, Dad would have loved to be at the game,” his daughter, Zoe Elliott, said. 

“I contacted the Bulldogs to find out how I could get Dad in the crowd.”

And now he’s there, ready and waiting for the Bulldogs to take on the GWS Giants on Friday night, alongside a host of Bulldogs supporters from all parts of the country. 

Paul’s allegiance to the Bulldogs started at a young age and never wavered. 

“Dad has barracked for the Bulldogs since he was about nine years old – so he saw two premierships in his time,” Zoe said. 

“I’m not really sure why he started supporting the Bulldogs, but he was an avid supporter. 

“As part of his funeral ceremony, when he was lowered down we actually played the Bulldogs theme song.

“He was a cheeky character, so it was a bit of a moment there.” 

His legacy as a Bulldogs man will carry on into the future too. 

Five of his nine grandchildren have followed in his footsteps, according to Zoe, while the Western Bulldogs’ supporters group he helped found in the Wimmera region lives on. 

That four-hour drive from Horsham to Melbourne was made often. 

Zoe recalls trips to Melbourne as a child conveniently overlapping with opportunities to watch – then Footscray – train at Whitten Oval. 

“Dad would be in there for ages, talking and whatever with club people,” she said.

“He was pretty excited about the Bulldogs.”

The great Ted Whitten Sr was one of his favourites. 

And there was a young bloke who caught his eye a few years back, who he thought might have something special. 

“He was a huge fan of Teddy Whitten,” Zoe said. 

“He used to comment, back in his early days, that the ‘Bont’ would have a big future. 

“He picked him out early on and thought he’d be one to watch… a pretty good judge of character.”