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Western Bulldogs invite nine-year-old Payton to AFL grand final

Payton meeting the Bulldogs

What started with heartbreak for nine-year-old Payton, after the Western Bulldogs-West Coast Eagles game was cancelled due to COVID lockdowns, has ended with the biggest surprise of her life.

Payton was surprised with a meet-and-greet with some of her favourite Bulldogs players, who delivered the news that she would be the junior mascot running onto the field with the them at the AFL grand final.

Payton's mum Aleiah Green said it all started with a photo posted to Facebook.

"We had tickets to the Bulldogs and Eagles game earlier in the season which was cancelled due to COVID.

Payton with Jason Johannisen. Photo: Supplied.

Payton with Jason Johannisen. Photo: Supplied.

"Payton was absolutely devastated - I posted a picture basically saying 'F-you COVID' - it was going to be the first AFL game she went to, and she was going to get to see her favourite team play."

Ms Green's photo garnered the attention of a friend's neighbour, who is a member of the Western Bulldogs' cheer squad.

"She put the photo up to the team and basically asked 'does anyone want to write to this little girl?', and Payton got signatures from players and some merchandise and she was absolutely stoked - it made her day."

TEARS: Payton after learning she would not be attending the Bulldogs vs Eagles game. Photo: Aleiah Green.

TEARS: Payton after learning she would not be attending the Bulldogs vs Eagles game. Photo: Aleiah Green.

Much to Ms Green's surprise, that wasn't the end of Payton's journey with the Bulldogs.

"I got a phone call asking if she wanted to be the junior mascot who will run onto the field with the team at the grand final," she said.

"We already managed to get tickets - when Payton got into the car after school on the day tickets became available to Bulldogs members she straight away said 'mum did you get tickets?'"

Ms Green had to keep the big secret from Payton, because a few very special people wanted to personally invite her themselves - the Bulldogs.

"Keeping the secret was absolutely killing me," Ms Green said.

Today, Payton was talking about her experience missing out on the previous Bulldogs game when Jason Johannisen walked out to meet her - along with a whole string of her favourite players.

"Payton completely idolises them. She was absolutely blown away."

Ms Green showed Payton videos of old grand finals in the lead up to the big surprise.

"I had to explain there would be sixty-thousand-plus people there," she laughed.

On Saturday, September 29, Payton's first live AFL game will be spent running alongside her idols at the first AFL grand final to ever be held in WA.