The 28km from Spotless Stadium to Sydney Airport last Saturday night could prove the most important bus ride in the Western Bulldogs’ AFL history.
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says that trip was when his players switched from joyous preliminary final winners to grand final men on a mission.
The wild scenes in the Bulldogs’ rooms after their win over the Giants have prompted speculation about their emotions ahead of the grand final against Sydney.
No-one doubts the Swans will be ready, especially after their grand final drubbing two years ago from Hawthorn.
But there is plenty of speculation about whether the Bulldogs will have the right head space on Saturday at the MCG.
If Matthew Suckling is not a late inclusion, they will be the first team since St Kilda in 1997 to go into the big game without any AFL grand final experience.
But Beveridge is adamant his team will be ready.
“We gave them time to quickly celebrate the victory,” he told Channel Nine’s Footy Show.
“There was so much emotion in the rooms.
“But we were on the bus pretty quickly and I think as soon as we were on the journey out to the airport, you realise you’re coming back home to another task at hand and the biggest game of our lives, really.
“So it hasn’t been too hard, they’ve kept themselves pretty grounded.”
This will be the Bulldogs’ first grand final since 1961 and their only premiership was in 1954.
On Friday, club history will be made when they take part in the grand final parade.
Apart from the Giants the Gold Coast, the Bulldogs were the only team yet to feature in the parade – a grand final week fixture since 1977.
Beveridge is disappointed that Roarke Smith and Lukas Webb, who dropped out of their team emergencies for the grand final, cannot take part.
“It’s a shame we can’t cram a few more players into the cars,” Beveridge said.
“It’s another poignant moment in what’s happening currently at the football club.”