AFL Round 2 – Essendon v Melbourne: Live from Alexandra’s Commercial Hotel

Who kicked 5 goals in the 1990 AFL Grand Final? As an Essendon fan, this question has haunted me from a very young age. That fateful day marked the loss of my innocence and also taught me a valuable lesson: football fortunes will ebb and flow. Enjoy it while you’re up because you’ll have your fair share of downs. Against my Bombers on the sixth of April 2013, the Dees kicked 5 goals for the whole game. The Bombers kicked 28. I enjoyed it.

I was in the perfect place to be in a jovial mood. With my brother down from Brisbane for the weekend, we went with our better halves to Alexandra, in the heart of country Victoria. Our grandparents lived on a small farm just out of Alexandra for our whole childhoods. So it’s a special place for us, full of warm memories.

We started the day with a hit of golf. As I teed up on the first hole I proudly selected my ball with the Essendon logo on it. Pride turned to fear as I shanked it into the trees and scrub on the left of the fairway. A thorough search failed to locate it. It was a lost ball. Forget the bad start to my round, was this an omen for tonight’s game? I had other reasons to be fearful of playing Melbourne. They’d beaten us on the last three occasions we’d met; a classic bogey team. Last year, their defeat of us marked the beginning of the end of our season. And now I’d gone and lost my “lucky” Bombers ball with my first shot of the day. Why didn’t I choose something more neutral?

Fortunately the day improved. It was a stunning day, the last of the nice ones on the final day of daylight savings. I win the round but the potential omen in this is overshadowed by the lost ball on the first. From the golf course we head to the Commercial Hotel and check into our lodgings for the evening. They are upstairs in the pub. Humble yet homely right down to the bed spread you’d expect to see in the spare room of any Grandma’s house in Australia. The rooms remind me of where the young cops from Mount Thomas chose to live.

The Commercial Hotel claims to have the best and biggest range of Parmas in Australia. There are 40 of them. It’s a tough decision, but I select the Nacho Parma. It’s good, but could’ve done with a bit less sour cream. I finish just before the clash at the MCG is due to start.

I’m 131 kilometres from the MCG but there seems to be an awkward silence across the ground in the first few minutes of the game. Maybe Essendon fans are nervous about our recent record against the Dees, and Demon fans are expectant of a response to last week’s headline grabbing loss to Port Adelaide. But it is the Bombers that take the early initiative, moving the ball quickly and scoring goals. Crameri gets our first. Heppell looks busy yet assured. Big Tommy Bellchambers kicks two in quick succession and we have the ascendency. We lead by 25 points at the first break. Hindsight is a beautiful thing but at the time I am still wary. My theory of ebbs and flows prevents me from thinking we’ve got the game under control. Plus, it’s only quarter time.

The game is blown open in the second quarter. We kick 7.4 to their 2.4 and seem to be running riot. Bellchambers ends up with 4 goals at half time. In Alexandra, our focus drifts in and out of the footy. Hence the most interesting moment in the second quarter being my brother’s misguided attempt to explain the perfect kissing technique. He says it’s all about getting the tongue in there. The women on the table disagree wholeheartedly.

Half time beers are quickly downed across the road at the Shamrock Hotel. There are four pubs in Alexandra and we’ve decided to visit them all. We make it to the Mount Pleasant about a minute into the Third Quarter. Focus is again drifting in and out as the Bombers open the game up even further. The highlight is a passage of play where the Dees try to clear the ball from defence but Bombers swarm around them like agitated bees. The ball turns over and Howlett kicks truly from outside 50. With about 5 minutes left, the barman turns on some trance music at full volume, we protest, so he turns the footy up in an attempt to match the music. The cacophony is unsettling. We retreat to our final destination: The Alexandra Hotel. We more than double the attendance just by walking in the door. The footy becomes background music as we chat with the owner and he shares the history of his old pub. The Bombers kick 7 goals to none in the last quarter. Melbourne faces another week of heavy media scrutiny. At the Alexandra Hotel, we settle in for a night of beer, Twisties, pool and jukebox selections. The night flows and flows.
Essendon            6.2 13.6 21.11 28.16 (184)
Melbourne         2.1 4.5 5.5 5.6 (36)

GOALS
Essendon: Crameri 6, Bellchambers 4, Watson 3, Davey, Howlett, Stanton, Heppell, Merrett, Hurley 2, Goddard, Dempsey, Ryder
Melbourne: Davey 2, Grimes, Clark, Jones

Best

Essendon: Heppell, Watson, Crameri, Zaharakis, Bellchambers

Melbourne: N Jones, Howe, Frawley

Umpires: Wenn, Kamolins, Hosking

Official crowd: 51,153

Our Votes: 3 Heppell (Ess) 2 Watson (Ess) 1 Crameri (Ess)

 

About Ged McMahon

Ged McMahon has been a Bombers fan for as long as he can remember. With a Grandpa who grew up just a spiralling torpedo punt from Windy Hill he didn't have much choice. When his junior football career resulted in almost as many possessions as games he eventually had to bite the bullet and give up his dream of captaining the Bombers to a Premiership. So his weekly footy fix became confined to the stands. He yearns for the next Premiership.

Comments

  1. Pamela Sherpa says:

    I agree Ged- enjoying the ups and copping the downs is the way to go. Sounds like you had a beaut weekend.

  2. Greg McMahon says:

    Genius work Ged, cracking night

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