Dear Bulldogs members and supporters,

It’s only an hour or two before the bounce of the ball in the most extraordinary period of our lives.

Every one of our boys you’ll see on the screen tonight knows that you are there in spirit behind them. They know the cheer squad is behind them. They know Gary Hincks is this week finding the footy channel rather than the train station for the first time in 1044 games. That Irene Chatfield and Alan Johnstone are all ready to jump down the TV screen.

And you should know that our players and coaches are thinking of you too. They will miss having you in the stands tonight…hearing the Bulldog roar…giving it back to the Magpie army.

We all look forward to a day we can get together again as one club supporting our team. Tonight’s game is dedicated to all of you.

This last week has been unlike anything else we’ve previously experienced, as a football club, wider Australian community and the world as a whole.

As players, coaches, administrative staff, members and fans, we’re being challenged to think differently about what lies ahead.

We have a lot to look forward to tonight on-field after what’s been a terrific pre-season. The boys are fit, firing and ready to go. It will be Marcus’ first AFL game as since his appointment as captain, we’ll have three new faces in the team as Alex Keath and Josh Bruce put on the red, white and blue for the first time, and Ben Cavarra deservedly gets his chance at AFL level. Good luck to all our boys.

The health and wellbeing of our people and the community is of paramount importance and we fully support the decisions the AFL is making under tough and challenging circumstances.

In addition to a shortened AFL season, we’ve also seen our AFLW team play its final game for the year, while the VFL and VFLW seasons have been suspended until 31 May. I’d like to thank our first-year coach Nathan Burke, Women’s Football GM Debbie Lee and the entire AFLW playing list and staff for their hard work and dedication this season. A special acknowledgement too for Nicole Callinan, who has announced her retirement after an enormous contribution to our club over four seasons. Nic is a Premiership hero.

The COVID-19 outbreak has likewise forced the postponement of our many Western Bulldogs Community Foundation programs for a minimum of 12 weeks. Our Foundation’s mission is to create experiences that connect and inspire our people and community, and this can only be achieved by providing the safest possible environment for our facilitators and participants.

We know that for all of our members, sponsors, coterie members, past players and fans, these times are not easy. Neither is there any escaping the catastrophic financial effect of these events on our club. While in 2020, we have built up unprecedented capital reserves and are in a more fortunate position than some clubs, at this moment, we the AFL family are all in this together.

We understand that some of you will have questions about how membership benefits will be impacted, and our team is currently working through this in collaboration with the AFL and all Clubs. We thank you for your patience and understanding.

In the meantime, we’re committed to finding new ways to keep you connected and informed, and we encourage you to continue to demonstrate your passion for the Bulldogs both at home and via our digital and social channels.

If you’re home tonight, maybe by yourself and feeling concerned, remember that you’re part of our family too, and lots of others who you see at the footy are in the same boat, and they’re feeling for you and looking forward to gathering together again soon. On that day, we will celebrate like it’s October 2, 2016!

Peter and Ameet