I'll always look back on December 14th 2016 with great fondness.
It was the date that the book 'The Doggies Almanac' was launched and from the moment I've recieved that book, I had hardly put the book down all summer.
Edited by the creator of The Footy Almanac website John Harms, along with Mandy Johnson, The Doggies Almanac is a book which features reviews, stories and a fusion of both by the everyday man, woman and child who contribute to the website.
Among those everyday people who contributed to the book is myself, but I promise not to harp on too much about it, as there is so much more to the book than just me. 37 contributors fill up the book, with each story, each review as intriguing as the next one.
The cover of the book is a beauty - Jim Pavlidis' painting of Liam Picken's notorious spectacular mark in the 2016 Grand Final, I felt, was a good choice as the cover for a couple of reasons. 1) It's a significant moment of the big match and 2) it shows Liam Picken leaping high to attempt to mark the ball - which can be somewhat of a metaphor of the Bulldogs reaching for that premiership cup that had been eluding the grasp of this club for decades.
Bruce Dawe's poem 'The High Mark' kicks off the book, which is so brilliantly delivered. This is followed by Harms' introduction rightfully entitled: 'Straight From The Heart' I say rightfully entitled because it is exactly what every writer - myself included - has done in this book and that's written their reviews, both in the book and on the Almanac website, straight from the heart.
Everybody that reads what I write about here on Bulldogs Centre knows, or should know by now that what I do here is often professional opinion and analysis on both games and on certain AFL matters. But in the Doggies Almanac, my four pieces in the book take a more personal twist to what I write. From match-day experiences with a close friend who barracks for a rival club to an emotional weekend in which I lost a relative who meant a lot to me.
It's the beauty of the Almanac - and it was the reason I joined at the start of last year. Everybody that writes has a different story to tell, and it's what I love so much about this book. People from all ages and opposite sexes with different backgrounds all give you a unique perspective on things, but their is one common denominator that sits with all these writers, and that's their passion and undying love of the Western Bulldogs.
I don't like dropping names but I feel the need to put examples in, to get the point across. A couple who go by the names of Russel Griggs and Donna Hannan explain how they unexpectedly fell in love with Footscray as they moved from Brisbane in one story.
Another fellow by the name of Neil Anderson - who I met at the night at the book launch, a great man who also enjoys his writing - writes a story about returning home to where spent the first part of his childhood Footscray just less than 24 hours after their historic premiership win.
It is the stories like this that make you step back and realise: 'Woah, this is something special', and there are many more of stories like this in this book. At least one story is featured in every round of the Bulldogs' 2016 premiership campaign, with additional features pre-Finals, pre-Grand Final and post-Grand Final, with virtually every issue that the Bulldogs put up with last year covered, from captain Robert Murphy's knee injury early in the year, to Mitch Wallis' horrific leg injury to the the Bulldogs incredible resurgence in the 2016 Finals Series.
For those who haven't yet purchased this glorious book, I advise you do so as soon as possible. From the very second I recieved a copy, it was impossible to put down, it was a lovely read and in 25 years from now when we all look back at the 2016 football year with great fondness, we'll still find it a pleasure to read. I'll conclude this brief article, by stating that the Doggies Almanac is the book for Bulldog die-hards like myself, and I know there'll be a few of you who read this and haven't yet purchased the book - DO IT!
The back of the cover of the book quotes: 'Ultimately, this is a story of love' - This quote couldn't be any truer.
To read more about The Doggies Almanac and to purchase a copy visit: http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/presenting-the-doggies-almanac-2016/