Footscray is the prime time darling of the VFL in 2017.

The Bulldogs will play five night games, including three home games under lights at the Victoria University Whitten Oval.

The season will begin on Good Friday for Footscray with the premiers hosting Box Hill Hawks in a midday matinee for the club’s supporters.

The early start is to allow Bulldogs fans the chance to make a day of it with the Western Bulldogs playing against North Melbourne in the AFL at 4pm on the religious holiday.

In a dream start to the season, Footscray will begin its premiership defence with six of their first eight games at home.

One of those games will be an ‘away’ game against the Werribee Tigers, who must play away from their home ground Avalon Airport Oval due to a stadium redevelopment.

While the Bulldogs will hardly leave the Whitten Oval in the first two months, it will leave them with just two games at the venue in the final 10 rounds.

However, one of the Bulldogs home games will be played at Etihad Stadium, against Werribee. It will be one of two AFL curtain-raisers at the venue for the Bulldogs, who also play there against Richmond in round four.

Footscray will have to wait until round nine to meet Casey Scorpions in the grand final re-match at Casey Fields.

Williamstown will begin its season on Easter Monday when it hosts the Scorpions in an opening round blockbuster at Burbank Oval. Williamstown will play a Friday night game against North Ballarat on May 12, the first game under lights at the re-developed Eureka Stadium, which will play host to AFL football next season. The Seagulls will re-ignite their local rivalry with Footscray at home on July 29.