Josh Dunkley is the 2016 AFL grand final father-son story with a twist.
While teammates Tom Liberatore, Lachie Hunter and Zaine Cordy are set to go one better than their dads by representing the Western Bulldogs on the biggest football stage of all, Dunkley could just as easily have been wearing red and white at the MCG on Saturday.
Lifelong Sydney fan Dunkley – the son of 217-game Swans fullback Andrew Dunkley – had chosen them as his club of choice ahead of last year’s national draft.
But when the Bulldogs made a pre-draft bid of 25 for the powerful midfielder, the Swans chose not to match it as they were desperate to retain enough points to land highly-rated academy prospect Callum Mills.
Mills has exceeded all expectations in his debut year, winning the Rising Star award, although he remains in doubt for the grand final with a hamstring injury.
Dunkley has also had a standout 2016 campaign, playing 16 senior matches, including important roles in the Bulldogs’ three finals wins over West Coast, Hawthorn and GWS.
He holds no grudges against the Swans, but is pretty certain his father will be cheering on the Bulldogs on Saturday.
“I speak to dad nearly every day,” Dunkley said on Monday.
“He’s obviously been there and done it all before, so to get that experience and knowledge on the game is really good for me.
“I think he’s probably 90-10 – 90 per cent for the Dogs and 10 for the Swans.
“The last three games have been really special and he’s been there to see it first hand.”
Andrew Dunkley’s only grand final for the Swans came in unusual circumstances in 1996.
The rugged fullback with the ungainly kicking action had been reported on video evidence for striking Essendon’s James Hird in the preliminary final, only for the Swans to obtain a Supreme Court injunction preventing the case from being heard until after the grand final.
The Swans went on to lose the decider to North Melbourne by 43 points and Dunkley was subsequently suspended for three weeks.
“In 2005 Barry Hall got reported and I remember dad saying he was in a similar situation when they made the grand final in 1996,” said Josh Dunkley of the incident where the Swans’ spearhead controversially had a striking charge donwgraded, allowing him to play in the 2005 triumph over West Coast.
“They showed vision of (Andrew Dunkley) on the TV walking in to the tribunal so I found out the whole story then.”
Now Dunkley junior gets the chance to write his own unforgettable grand final story as the Bulldogs chase a first premiership in 62 long years.