Thousands at AFL parade to cheer Bulldogs

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Thousands at AFL parade to cheer Bulldogs

Frances Gibson remembers sitting at the boundary of the MCG 62 years ago, watching the Western Bulldogs make history.

Now at 78, she’s joined the perimeter of the AFL Grand Final parade to watch the same team vie for the same silverware.

Bringing along her son and grandson on Friday, all draped in blue, white and red colours, the parade marked a sentimental moment for the family.

“It’s the first time I’ve been to one, they didn’t have one in 1961,” Ms Gibson told AAP.

“This is the first one the Bulldogs have been in.”

Back in 1961, the Bulldogs, called Foostcray at the time, lost the VFL grand final to Hawthorn.

Ms Gibson feels the bad luck has well and truly been banished.

“I think we’ll win – I’m positive,” she said about Saturday’s result.

Western Bulldogs fans outnumbered Sydney Swan fans 30 to one at the parade, with more than 100,000 fans packing Melbourne’s streets all the way to the MCG.

Many had come early in the morning hoping to get a good vantage point, with hundreds of young children passing the time by kicking Sherrins along the parade perimeter.

All 44 players from the Swans and the Bulldogs made it down the parade route, waving to their well-wishers.

The biggest roar of applause was saved for Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge who smiled and waved alongside the team’s stand-in skipper, Easton Wood.

The Swans players also got some respectful applause, with many fans travelling from interstate to build up the red and white presence.

Driving down all the way from Wollongong, the Walker family admitted they felt a bit outnumbered.

“We saw a red enclave and we thought we’d join in,” Marianne Walker said.

For Footscray locals, the fandom has remained constant despite the team’s lack of grand final appearances.

Amanda Briggs was raised in Footscray and brought along her two children to witness the moment.

“I was just saying to my boy, he’s nine, it’s taken me 35 years to see this,” she said.

At the parade for the first time thanks to the Bulldogs’ inclusion, Laurelle Mudge expects to make it a tradition.

“We’re getting into practice because this isn’t going to be the last time,” she said.

“We’ll be here next year.”

As the parade wrapped up, the huge cohort started walking up to the MCG where festivities continued.

Hundreds of thousands of fans are set to return on Saturday to watch the grand final, while millions will tune in at home.

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