The Western Bulldogs hope their post-premiership future lies somewhere between being everyone’s second-favourite team and the most hated club in the AFL.
The Bulldogs are relishing unfamiliar territory as the reigning AFL premiers, something they had previously achieved just once in 1954.
They capped their fairytale on Saturday with an epic 22-point grand final win over Sydney.
Earlier in this finals series, Bulldogs midfielder Jack Macrae said he had mixed emotions about the widespread love and support they were receiving from around the AFL.
Macrae would gladly have people hate the Bulldogs, like many opposition fans hate Hawthorn, for example, if that is the price for premiership success.
But coach Luke Beveridge said Macrae had slipped up.
“We don’t want to be hated, we don’t want that to happen,” Beveridge said.
“We’re pretty happy that if there was a bandwagon, we’re pretty happy that there were a few people on it.
“But I suppose you want to be envied.
“There’s no doubt everyone what Hawthorn have achieved, everyone envies Sydney’s sustained success … everyone envies the Cats.
“That’s our next mandate, to see it we can pull that off.”
Beveridge added it is hard to look beyond the premiership, but said the next challenge would be sustained success.
The Bulldogs were to continue their emotional premiership celebrations with a family day on Sunday from 11am at Whitten Oval.
Club president Peter Gordon said the widespread support from all AFL fans for the Bulldogs during the finals was a big win for the league’s concept of competitive balance.
Gordon noted there is a perception around the AFL that it needs the bigger clubs to be successful consistently.
“In some senses I think the Bulldogs have turned that theory on its head in the course of this week,” he said.
The Bulldogs are seen as one of the league’s battler clubs.
Gordon is rapt that their premiership will give hope to fans of other clubs without much flag success, such as St Kilda and Melbourne.
“As president of the ‘Dogs, I hope we win the next six,” he said.
“But I also hope, on a realistic basis, that the people who’ve followed the Demons for decades and the Saints … get their time in the sun as we have this week.”