Western Bulldogs midfielder Josh Dunkley has revealed a horrifying social media message he received following an AFL defeat three years ago.
Facing the Sydney Swans at Marvel Stadium in April 2018, Dunkley made a crucial mistake late in the fourth quarter, botching a regulation goal which contributed to the seven-point defeat.
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The 2016 premiership player inevitably copped a flood of abusive messages on Instagram, but one disgruntled supporter’s screenshot put him at “rock bottom”.
The footy fan sent Dunkley a map of directions from Docklands to West Gate Bridge, detailing the spot he should commit suicide.
Western Bulldogs midfielder Josh Dunkley kicks at goal.Source:News Corp Australia
“By the time I had showered, packed my bags and arrived home, it was close to 10pm. There was not a single second where I wasn’t replaying that dropped mark over in my head, berating myself for the mistake,” Dunkley wrote on ESPN.
“In my desperation to try and switch off from what had happened a few hours earlier, I decided to lean on social media. It’s fair to say, that wasn’t the greatest idea I’ve ever had. What I saw horrified me.
“My Instagram DMs were overflowing with literally hundreds of abusive messages, but one of them really stood out. Someone had actually sent me a Google Maps screenshot which had directions from Marvel Stadium to the West Gate Bridge.
“Here I am, just a 21-year-old kid, being advised by a disgruntled ‘fan’ to commit suicide after making an error in a game. No matter what the coaching staff and senior players tell you, you can’t help but feel responsible for the loss when you see something like that.
“Seeing that image made me feel sick to my stomach. Without any doubt, that was the lowest I have ever felt after a game. It was my rock bottom. All I wanted to do was hide.
“After a night of tossing and turning in bed, I decided to report the offenders and actually change my Instagram profile to ‘private’. I also learned a valuable lesson that day — never check social media after a game, particularly a loss. It’s something I still practice today.”
Western Bulldogs midfielder Josh Dunkley in 2018.Source:News Corp Australia
Several other AFL players have publicly revealed abusive social media messages — Richmond defender Dylan Grimes and GWS Giants veteran Callan Ward both shared death threats sent to them following closely-contested games.
Last month, Sydney Roosters star Josh Morris called out vile abuse he copped following a win over the Wests Tigers.
Dunkley has played 81 games for the Western Bulldogs since making his AFL debut in 2016, kicking 44 goals for the club.
The Bulldogs will face the Brisbane Lions in Ballarat on Saturday afternoon, with the first bounce scheduled for 1.35pm local time.
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