The family ties run deep at the Whitten Oval.
Three sons of former Western Bulldogs players are set to play important roles in Saturday’s AFL grand final – a number which would have swelled to four if Mitch Wallis hadn’t suffered a season-ending knee injury back in July.
As the offspring of Footscray legends, Wallis and Tom Liberatore arrived at the club together to great fanfare back in 2010.
Liberatore’s father Tony – the 1990 Brownlow Medallist – celebrated joyously at Spotless Stadium last weekend after the Dogs edged past GWS to book a spot in the decider for the first time since 1961.
“Having not been in a grand final for such a long time it means so much to our fathers and so much to us as well,” said Tom Liberatore, who has reclaimed his spot at the heart of the Bulldogs’ midfield after missing all of 2015 with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
Lachie Hunter is another key member of the Bulldogs’ engine-room.
Due to the influence of his cousin Mark McVeigh, Hunter started his footballing life as an Essendon fan before swapping allegiances to the Bulldogs at the age of eight.
Father Mark played 130 games for the Dogs between 1988 and 1996 and also spent a couple of years as the Footscray runner.
“Ever since I switched over to the Dogs I’ve always wanted to play for them and I was really rapt to end up here,” said the 21-year-old Hunter, who has enjoyed a career-best campaign in 2016.
“It’s great to have the romance of it all, to be able to say your father played for the club as well.
“It’s more a family thing, you get to share it with them.”
Youngster Zaine Cordy’s familial links with the club from Melbourne’s working-class western suburbs are more complicated.
Father Brian played 124 games for the Dogs in the 1980s, many of them alongside older brother Neil and a handful with younger sibling Graeme.
Neil Cordy went on to play a further 96 matches for the Swans and has been a long-time prominent member of the Sydney sports media fraternity.
Zaine Cordy’s older brother Ayce preceded him at the Western Oval, only to be delisted last year after an injury-plagued stint.
“It did help me, having Ayce here last year,” said the 19-year-old Zaine Cordy, who did not break into the senior team this year until round 19, but has been a mainstay ever since.
“I also chat to dad about footy most weeks.
“He’s pretty cool, calm and collected, although there’s a bit of advice here and there.”
SONS OF THE FATHERS
Tony Liberatore – 283 games for the Bulldogs from 1986-2002
Tom Liberatore – 97 games, debuted in 2011
Mark Hunter – 130 games from 1988-96
Lachie Hunter – 61 games, debuted in 2013
Brian Cordy – 124 games from 1981-88
Zaine Cordy – 10 games, debuted in 2015
* Older brother Ayce Cordy also played 27 matches before being delisted in 2015
Stephen Wallis – 261 games from 1983-96
Mitch Wallis – 93 games, debuted in 2011