Melbourne people love their footy, we all know and respect that. They draw crowds to games which make other codes shake their fists in fits of jealous rage.
But the crowds they draw to training? Incredible. Just incredible. This was the scene this Thursday at he final open training session before Saturday's AFL grand final against the Sydney Swans. Stands packed. Wow.
It's been like this for weeks. At the Western Bulldogs training base (and former home ground) Whitten Oval in recent weeks, the crowds at training sessions have grown each week as the Doggies have surged through the finals, winning three straight games.
They're really playing a great brand of footy in the finals, these Doggies. First they knocked off last year's losing grand finalists, the West Coast Eagles, in Perth. Then premiers Hawthorn in Melbourne. Then GWS in Sydney, as they out-Giantsed the Giants. Which is to say they were more energetic and desperate than a team which is known for being all that.
Yep, this team really has mongrel.
And the noise. The noise is just nuts.
As The Huffington Post Australia wrote in our match report the other night when the Bulldogs beat the Giants, this is a success-starved club. That 1954 premiership is the only one they've ever won. Their last grand final was in 1961, back when they were called Footscray, more than 20,000 days ago.
The Bulldogs are much more famous for losing than winning and have on more than one occasion been celebrated as loveable losers in popular culture, most memorably in the 1997 documentary Year of The Dogs, which chronicled the hapless team's terrible 1996 season.
But this year the Dogs have been impressive all year. They finished seventh on the ladder before the finals, yet were only two wins behind minor premiers Sydney. With Hawthorn fading and no runaway ladder leader, this looked like a year for someone to rise.
The Dogs, perhaps?
If they awarded the premiership on fan dedication, they'd have the cup already.