by Rod Oaten
It’s a long bow to draw the Port Fairy Folk Festival with the Essendon Football Club via the Danihers but seeing Anthony at the recent Festival, as I have for the last four or five years, sparked up the grey matter and the writing bug.
I’ve been a regular at PFFF for the last 14/15 years and some of the performances I have seen and heard, will stay with me forever. Remembering back to Yothu Yindi , My Friend the Chocolate Cake, Sara Storer, Archie Roach, a sunburnt folk singer from Scotland by name Dougie MacLean, Louden Wainwright the 3rd, the Waifs and my favourite for this year Tinpan Orange are great memories. And up there with great memories of a different sort was the day the four Danihers played for the mighty Dons against St Kilda at Morrabbin in 1990.
The thought of the four Danihers playing in the one team had exercised my enthusiasm for the whole 1990 season. At times I didn’t think it was going to happen, Neale whose promising football career was cruelly shortened by having three total knee reconstructions , was making yet another comeback for the 1990 season, and things weren’t going all that well for him early in the season. Chris who had joined the Dons in 1988 had played a handful of games and then badly injured his finger in the middle of the season and was battling to get into the seniors . Anthony had his jaw re-arranged against Fitzroy mid season, and missed seven or eight weeks, so the only Daniher in the team for many weeks was Terry.
Early in the season there was a State of Origin game at the SCG, Victoria v NSW. The NSW side had a quite a few Vic’s in their side which included the four Danihers and they gave the Victoria a “thumping” by 10 points on a wet night in front of about 13,000 spectators. Was this to be the only time they played together?
Last home and away game and Kevin Sheedy was playing games with the press about the four boys. I was giving my fellow teachers at Yarraville PS a daily “lecture” on how good it would be for footy if the four played together.
And so on the Thursday night the Essendon team included the four lads. I was over the moon and couldn’t wait to tell all the vitally ” interested” staff on the Friday. I remember one South Melbourne/Sydney supporter trying to hide from me, but I chased her down and gave her the good news.
Saturday morning and I was on my way to Morrabbin, in those days it wasn’t the friendliest ground to watch footy at, but any fears were dismissed as I walked from the station to the ground. I can’t remember what sort of a day it was, but when I saw the four lads run out onto the ground I knew this was indeed history in the making. It had never happened before and I’m absolutely certain it will never happen again.
Sheeds was up to his old tricks, Terry played full back instead of centre half forward, Anthony was on the wing instead of full back, Chris was around the centre area and Neale full forward. I remember at one stage of the game Terry kicking it out towards the wing Anthony picked it up and passed to Chris who kicked to a leading Neale. Unfortunately some bumbling Saint got in the way and stopped a “Daniher team goal” All the lads played really well as did the whole Essendon team and they ran out easy winners by 35 points. The four Danihers walked from the ground together to huge applause from the Essendon supporters and the majority of St.Kida fans.
So thanks Anthony for stirring up my memory of that day, hope I see you again at Port Fairy Folk Festival next year.