Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says the club’s bright 10-point round one win over West Coast will go some way to mending the wounds from their dark off-season.
The Bulldogs lost their coach, captain and chief executive during a tumultuous few months.
For Beveridge, who kicked off his AFL coaching career with the 10-point defeat of the Eagles, there’s no better way to move on from the tough times than on the field.
“I’m really proud of the boys and the way they stuck at it,” Beveridge said.
“They’ve had a tough summer, our boys, they’ve had to deal with a lot of ridicule and innuendo,” he said.
“They copped a bit of the blame for certain things that went on here last year
“They don’t deserve that, none of it was their fault.
“Their brilliant young men, lots of integrity, plenty of character … and really deserved to win tonight.”
Only Tom Boyd was a new face in the Bulldogs side that emerged victors over the Eagles.
But Beveridge made a point of mentioning that several players had come from their VFL premiership outfit.
“There were eight boys who played tonight who played in last year’s VFL premiership side,” he said.
“That’s a real positive, it’s new life.
“Some of them really took hold of that tonight.”
That includes Lin Jong, who had plenty of the ball, Brett Goodes and Tory Dickson.
But there were strong performances too from 20-year-olds Jackson Macrae and Jake Stringer.
Forward Boyd was tightly held for much of the night before making his first goal for the club a crucial one in the final term.
Beveridge said even before Saturday night’s result, the mood at Whitten Oval has been transformed in recent months.
“It’s a positive vibe and I couldn’t be happier for everyone at the club,” he said.
“Our administration, our board, everyone’s gone through a really tough period.
“If we can win some games early and we can give our fans a bit of hope, and there’s a bit of light there, that’s really crucial for us at the moment.”