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Diagnosis > Michael And The Bulldogs


 

Andrew Ryan, Daniel Holdsworth and Danny Williams with Michael at the hospital

Group photographs with Nick Kouparitsas, Ben Barba, Luke Patten, Kane Cleal and Danny Williams with Michael.

A picture of Michael and friends with Sonny Bill Williams head transplanted into the photograph

 

 

Michael followed the Bulldogs NRL team. He had little choice. His dad followed the Dogs and his grandfather played in the "Berries" juniors before he was married at a young age. Michael's Grandfather and Grandmother grew up around the corner from each other in Lakemba, Bulldog country, only a short distance from Belmore Oval. Michael was taken to the 1994 and 1995 Grand Finals when he was 3 to 4 years old wearing a Number 6 (Terry Lamb) Bulldog Jersey and every time the Dogs scored a try Michael's dad tossed Michael into the air in celebration. Michael was told that you pick a team and follow them through thick and thin, that the tough times make the good times seem sweeter, that the Bulldogs could never win every game but they had ticker, they never surrendered. The amazing semi final run in 1998 when the Dogs had an amazing run of extra  time wins and lost the Grand Final to Brisbane demonstrated this. So, when Michael was diagnosed with cancer, the Bulldog "Never Surrender" attitude was adopted. While Michael was dealing with his cancer treatments, and no matter where we were, Michael always managed to keep up with what the Bulldogs were doing.

How amazing it was to have Andrew Ryan, Daniel Holdsworth and Danny Williams, from the Bulldogs, come to visit Michael in hospital a few days after the surgery on his leg. The kick it gave Michael was immeasurable. They were great company and just talked footy with Michael which was great. Daniel Holdsworth gave Michael a Number 7 Bulldog jersey that he had worn recently and the three stars signed it for him and allowed his dad to take a photograph of the moment. They stayed a while but when they did leave, Andrew Ryan gave Michael the Bulldogs jacket he was wearing. The guys also arranged to get us tickets to the final game of the year against Canberra down at Canberra. We would like thank the Canberra club for all their efforts in accommodating us as it was a Canberra home game. We were treated like royalty and Michael was given access to the Bulldog's change room after the game. Some of the players, who were out injured came to see Michael at half time and were happy to have their photographs taken with Michael. After the game we were asked to wait outside the change room as the Bulldogs came from the field. I thought I would take a video of the team coming in. To my surprise Andrew Ryan walked up to Michael and stood by him and introduced the team to him one by one and they shook his hand and talked to him as they came in. Considering it was the last game of the year and the Dogs had lost a high scoring and entertaining  game to Canberra it was a sure sign of character to watch these weary footballers put aside their aches and pains and shine a bright light of encouragement on Michael. We then spent a long time in the change room as the team unwound. Steve Folkes introduced himself to Michael as did the incoming coach, Kevin Moore. Both Andrew Ryan and Daniel Holdsworth spent a good deal of time with Michael. Michael had brought down the jumper given to him By Daniel Holdsworth and the whole team signed it for him. Andrew Ryan, being the captain had media commitments, but asked Michael to hang around as he would come back. Daniel Holdsworth kept Michael company. When Andrew came back team photographs with Michael were taken and then Andrew Ryan gave Michael his entire playing kit as he undressed. Michael treasured this day.

A lot is said about footballers, about celebrities, about role models and not always complimentary but then they are living and working in a fish bowl. The true character of a person or a club or institution is what they do without expectation, when nobody is looking, when they are being themselves. I, as Michael's father, can only say that the Bulldogs are my team and are Michael's team. What the club did for Michael was amazing but the most important thing to note is the character of the people involved and the personal time they spent with Michael and how they interacted with Michael. The Bulldog club is solid gold and beyond reproach. The team were just great. My biggest accolades go especially to Daniel Holdsworth and Andrew Ryan for arranging this day and spending so much quality time with Michael. I would hate to see Daniel Holdsworth leave the club and I believe Andrew Ryan should be signed up to a life contract. Andrew Ryan is a leader amongst men. His care and compassion for my son  was exemplary and I know Michael is watching over him and  the Dogs.

 

 


 


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