SOLD OUT are the words Western Bulldogs Ballarat supporters' group chief Ray Neville likes to hear.
This Sunday's clash puts finals contention on the line for the Bulldogs and visiting rival Adelaide Crows at Mars Stadium. But Mr Neville said it was important for the region to finally have a full kennel in Ballarat.
"We want the Bulldogs and AFL to hang around for a long time. To justify that, we need bigger crowds. If we want to develop our stadium, we need bigger crowds," Mr Neville said. "...Hopefully this is onwards and upwards from here."
Mr Neville said Ballarat people were not bothered by winter conditions in this city and Sunday was a chance to acclimatise visiting fans from Melbourne and Adelaide to show what football in Ballarat was all about and how fun it could be.
The Bulldogs announced on Tuesday afternoon the match was officially sold out. This includes standing room for general admission.
The match will be broadcast on pay-television but will be screened at the following hotels: Zagame's, The Sporting Globe, The Western, Minerdome Sports Club, Red Lion, Ballarat Trotting Club, The Golf House Hotel, The Park Hotel, Ballarat Leagues Club and Blue Bell Hotel.
Royal Oak Hotel in South Street, central Ballarat, is not broadcasting the game but remains the Bulldogs' "spiritual" home pub, according to Mr Neville.
This is where one night in the mid-1990s, proprietor and 'Doggies fan Karen Turner looked up from behind the bar to suddenly see about 40 Bulldogs players wanting a meal. Players back then made the Royal Oak a regular stop when in town.
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The pub remained Bulldog-friendly but only in the modern era, with the club officially making Ballarat its adopted home, have supporters started to make it their gathering space once more.
In a nod to history, this is where Bulldogs' premiership player and Ballarat export Jordan Roughead also appeared with the 2016 AFL Premiership Cup. A photo hangs on the wall for proof.
Ms Turner confirmed Roughead was always welcome in the Royal Oak - even though he was now a Collingwood player - because he delivered the game's Holy Grail.
Balllarat supporters' group will carry out their tradition with a club function at the Royal Oak - some Bulldogs' visitors and staff will be there - on Saturday night top ahead of the game.
WATCH what Caesar's been up to this week, click on the photo below
City of Ballarat is not hosting a live site for the bumper clash as it did for the historic first AFL match for premiership points in August 2017. For those who do visit Mars, there are plenty of children's activities including skills testing, face-painting, autograph collecting and the chance to meet Ballarat-bred Bulldogs' mascot Caesar.
Western Bulldogs v Adelaide at Mars Stadium, Sunday 1.10pm.
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