There’s nobody more excited about footy’s return to the Whitten Oval this Saturday than Bulldogs legend Doug Hawkins.
Hawkins played 140 of his 350 AFL games at the Whitten Oval. They even named the famous outer wing after him.
And that’s exactly where he will be perched on Saturday afternoon when the Western Bulldogs host Richmond in their NAB Challenge game.
“I remember West Coast players coming from Perth and the beautiful sunshine. They would get off the bus with their sunnies on and I said to them ‘You won’t need those boys, there’s puddles out there that you can swim laps in’.” – doug Hawkins
“I can’t wait to go there on Saturday, sit out on my wing, and sit with (former teammates) Peter Foster and Steve MacPherson and tell them how good I was,” Hawkins told AFLPlayers.com.au.
“I think it’s fantastic. Footy is back home in the western suburbs. I can’t wait.
“The people of Footscray are excited and the players will love it. It’s a very special ground and it’s been an important part of my life. It’s like my home. I love the place.”
It wasn’t always a venue that the opposition felt as fondly about. Cold showers in the visitors’ rooms, the passionate locals, and a boggy surface made winning in the west difficult.
“I don’t reckon they’ll turn the hot water off in the Richmond rooms this time. We used to do that back in the day,” Hawkins told us.
“I remember West Coast players coming from Perth and the beautiful sunshine. They would get off the bus with their sunnies on and I said to them ‘You won’t need those boys, there’s puddles out there that you can swim laps in’.
“We loved it. We had an edge over the opposition as soon as we walked out there.”
Hawkins’ most memorable day was when he broke the club’s games record, a mark previously held by the most famous Bulldog of them all.
“The day I broke Teddy Whitten’s record was emotional and meant a lot to me. It meant the world to me,” Hawkins said.
“I will never forget that day. It’s a bit sad that players today don’t have those traditional home grounds but at least the boys from the Doggies will get the experience of playing out there this weekend.
“The club has done great work building the facility up and the surface is magnificent. The players will love it.”