• Loddon Herald

Old Demon tips his Dogs

THE last time Howard Rochester barracked for Melbourne, the Demons had just sacked six-time premiership coach Norm Smith the year after winning another VFL flag.

That was 1965 and the following year, Howard was living across the road from Footscray’s Western Oval home ground.

Friends laughed at his switch in allegiance from one of the league powerhouses to the Dogs with just one pennant on their wall.

But Howard, whose home on Inglewood’s Brooke Street is this week decked out in Bulldog colours, has had no regrets.

“You could go into the rooms at the Western Oval after the game and talk to players. They used to have dances on a Thursday night, too,” Howard said.

“And I got to chat with Geoff Jennings who captained the club in the late 70s and early 80s. His ancestors came from Inglewood ... it was good to make the connection.”

Both Melbourne and Footscray have had much time in the doldrums. But the Dogs broke their flag drought five years ago and Howard was there at the MCG on that famous September 2016 day.

“My three children barrack for the Bulldogs and so do my six grandchildren,” Howard said.

He thinks both teams played ripper preliminary finals a fortnight ago.

Yet, Howard’s heart is tugging towards another Footscray flag in Saturday’s grand final in Perth.

“But I don’t think people will mind who wins as either side will be good for the game,” he said.

“For me, though, the Bulldogs are coming to their top game at the right time. Footscray by 14 points.”

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