Here I am getting into the “G” at about eleven thirty to be greeted by an announcement, ” seating available on level four only”. Level four? I couldn’t believe it, but yes it’s true. As I climb into the upper atmosphere without breathing apparatus , I have a quick nervous glance at the crowd, being very careful not to get giddy. and overbalancing. There must have been about eighty thousand at the ground already, a good three hours before the game.
Today is one of the regular” Father/Son Bonding Days ” that take place during the footy season, the father, tha’ts me, a Don Tragic , the son a Magpie. We always kick the day off with a couple of cleansing ales and a bit of a discussion about the game. Neither of us are confident, both sides are missing stars. We reckon there wont be much in it.
We take our seats as the teams warm up, and you could see from up here on level four that it is a huge crowd, barely a vacant seat anywhere. We both guessed low nineties. It’s the biggest crowd I can remember. The anticipation and tension is palpable. Great ground, great atmosphere, great weather, lets hope it’s a great game.
The opening ten minutes are tough and hard. The moment someone gets the ball he was set upon by two or three opponents . There were more crunches than in a Hoadleys Violet Crumble Bar. Neither side gives an inch. Jake Carlisle is doing a great job on Travis Cloke wearing him like a over coat. . Good to see Scott Gumbleton being a focal point for the Dons. Collingwood were doing themselves no favours by kicking inaccurately whereas the Dons made the most of their opportunities and lead by four points at the end of a very torrid quarter. The noise from the huge crowd was overpowering, every tackle, kick and mark is greeted by a thundering noise.
The second quarter stated at a the same frantic pace, Collingwood’s inaccuracy continues. The Dons were more positive, and outplaying their opponents skipped to a handy lead late in the quarter, however Collingwood scored a couple of majors just before half time. At half time the Dons lead by four points but Collingwood had six more scoring shots. What are you supposed to read into this? A tough half time cleansing ale, tough to get to the bar, tough to get a drink and tough on your confidence..
The Dons start the third quarter with four quick goals even before you could settle down, I found my voice to add to the crescendo. Son looking very uneasy and unsure, a couple of low groans the only noise he made. But not to be outdone, Collingwood found space and combining well, banged on three goals in quick succession . It was back to a couple of goals midway through the quarter and it was me that felt glum and unsure. But the Dons stopped the rot, and revived my spirit adding a couple of majors just before the orange break.
The last quarter and Collingwood reduced Essendon’s lead to twelve points, they seemed to have the running. But the Dons are made of sterner stuff this year. Completely shutting out the Collingwood goal sneaks, Essendon stormed forward and Winderlich, Merrett, Gumbleton, Watson and Zaharakis all scored majors much to my absolute delight. The Collingwood faithful felt the writing on the wall and left early in the last quarter, the son sat glumly next to me. Nothing could inspire the Magpie players, even Heath Shaw who waves his arms around like a demented traffic supervisor, could do nothing.
The mighty Dons win by a fantastic forty six points. A magnificent team effort. Not a weak link could be found on the day. All twenty two playing for Essendon were best on ground. I know it’s still early days and I’m keeping a cast iron lid on things, but I smile to myself when I think of the Dons.