AFL Round 5 Essendon v Collingwood: Ruminations of a Footballing Tragic

Having attended most of the past six or seven ANZAC games, it was with disappointment that I slouched into the couch at my mum’s place on ANZAC Day. The last game I missed was the insane Zaharakis-inspired win in 2009. Any bets that we win today and I’m not at the ground. The start was marked by an excellent opening bounce from the umpire – always a bonus considering the occasion. Still not sure why or how the bounce came about though. An oval-ball slung into the turf and making it bounce dead-straight? Had to have been a drunken dare on the first try. Bellchambers is a massive unit and he used his considerable bulk to advantage early on, imposing himself at the stoppages. Jarryd Blair – all five foot nothing of him – tried to fight him at one stage, but luckily Ben Hudson was on hand to stop Bellchambers from eating him. Swan was also on fire early. The bloke has atrocious tatts, but you can’t help but respect him. He waddles longer and harder than anyone else in the AFL. Dempsey stood-out, mainly because he appeared to be the only Essendon player wearing black football boots.  His drive was helping the Dons to get on top early, which was satisfying. However, Supercoach does tend to warp one’s football watching habits these days. I wanted us to smash the Pies horribly, but at the same time hoped Swan, Sidebottom and Harry O played well. Keeping Collingwood in the contest was the Q-Stick. He’s been a revelation in the early rounds since crossing the Nullarbor, and his work around the ground was exemplary.  Mind you, Essendon were helping the Pies to comeback by kicking it to Davey in one-on-one marking contests. Surely by now they’d have established a team-rule stating that this was a terrible idea.

The second quarter saw Essendon again create a lead through some hard running and clean finishing, weather a Collingwood comeback (courtesy of some clinical passing and quality decision making), and somehow go in to the half-time break 4 points up (Collingwood’s inability to kick straight a massive boon at this stage). A mate of mine messaged me early in the quarter saying he had a $5 bet on that exact margin. Turns out those sorts of betting smarts can net you odds of 27-1.Handy payday that. Heath Hocking featured heavily in the second, although barely for skill-related reasons. He appears to be an immensely angry unit whose main job for the side involves grabbing people in packs and trying to hurt them with the ground. As noted by my brother his hardness was best demonstrated in one incident alone. Running towards a pack, he attempted to pick up the ball with his chest, the Sherrin bouncing 10 metres away. He rounded off the quarter with an attempted full-length diving tackle. Sure he didn’t lay a finger on his opponent, but the endeavour surely deserved a free-kick. A close second in brilliance was the golden trinity showing off their skills. Watson handballing out to Heppell who shimmied past one opponent before handing off, and Goddard relieving pressure with a clearing kick. Now that is something I could get used to.

Alan Toovey decided to step things up for the Pies in the third and tore our boys to shreds for a while with his hard running and line-breaking. The fact that he did his knee later in the game only highlighted the important work he did prior. Heath Shaw on the other hand didn’t quite seem to be as focused. Based on stories I’ve heard, his mind was probably at the bar at the Lower Plenty Pub. Alwyn Davey popped up numerous times to chase, harass and tackle his opponents. He does the ‘little’ things well does Alwyn. The Q-Stick went away in the second half to the relief of Bombers fans everywhere, whilst Goddard again showed off his worth with a perfect third-man-up hit-out freeing up Winderlich to goal. It’s good to have Winderlich back from injury again. He provides valuable zip in the forward line and on the wing. Always been a fan of the boy from spud country. Tyson Goldsack also hails from down Gippsland way, but today wasn’t his finest moment. Admittedly he was putting goals on the board, but he was doing so wearing the worst head-band in existence. The slightly-larger-than-normal rubber band was barely necessary considering his hair-length. Ben reckons it’s because he’s from Nar Nar Goon. That would explain a lot.

I had high hopes heading into the fourth quarter. Our spread and run out of defence, and daring dash through the middle of the ‘G would surely hold up once more. However, Collingwood – as usual – refused to lie down, and kicked early goals to reduce our lead to just 12 points. Pendles was on fire. The amount of space he managed to find for himself at stoppages was outrageous. A vocal plea went out urging someone to pick him up. It went largely ignored. Again, a verbal plea was sent to the players via the TV (always a solid strategy). For the most part it still went unanswered. However, the efforts of Watson, Zaharakis and Stanton soon cancelled out all Collingwood momentum. Goal after goal came in the latter parts of the game, some more traditional in approach than others. Myers’ goal-assist was inspired. Tackled on the wing he threw the ball up in the air in a blind panic. After discovering this somehow didn’t result in a free-kick against him he picked it up again, booted it forward and Winderlich was able to slot through his third. Jobe – as only he can do – broke free in the dying moments to put the Bombers up by 46 points. We love Jobe.

Essendon 2.3.15; 6.4.40; 12.8.80; 18.13.121

Collingwood 1.5.11; 4.12.36; 7.14.56; 10.15.75

Goals:

Essendon: Zaharakis 4, Winderlich 3, Davey 2, Merrett 2, Watson 2, Gumbleton 2, Bellchambers 2, Crameri

Collingwood: Blair 2, Pendlebury 2, Cloke 2, Goldsack 2, Elliott, Sidebottom

Best:

Essendon: Zaharakis, Watson, Winderlich, Carlisle, Bellchambers

Collingwood: Sidebottom, Lynch, Swan, Pendlebury

Votes: Zaharakis (3), Watson (2), Winderlich (1

About Sam Laffy

26-year old Essendon supporter. Winning the flag in 2000 when I was 12 was supposed to kick off a dynasty I could boast about for years. Still waiting for that 17th flag.....

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