Heart Palpitations

You know that feeling you get when you know something’s about to go wrong? It’s that feeling of uncertainty, nervousness and concern. I hate it. Football is great at making people feel this way.

I often say, there should be health restrictions that appear on the back of a football ticket. “If you have a heart condition, do not enter.” “If you are prone to emotional anxiety and severe shock, do not enter” “If you wish to have a stress free enjoyable night, you should’ve gone to the movies”.

Yes, last Saturday night’s game was certainly as distressing as it was exciting.

Essendon was playing host to the Swans who had just come off the back of an emphatic win over Western Bulldogs, but were yet to prove themselves against a much improved Essendon side in Melbourne.

Conor, my Bomber friend, came with me as we caught the train in and bought our standing room tickets.

From our standpoint we watched as Alwyn Davey kicked the opening goal for Essendon. We watched on as young Lewis Jetta sprinted away from old Dustin Fletcher and went on to slot the Swans first soon after.

They dominated early as majors from Andrejs Everett and Sam Reid helped jumpstart Sydney’s campaign.

The (slow) return of the Mummy, Shane Mumford, is looking good for the next few weeks as he moved forward and took some promising marks and goals.

Sam Reid was prolific again as he soared high and kicked truly twice. Much hype has been made about Sam Reid, and I can see why. Reid seems to be able to float in the air, and time his run to almost perfection. The future looks bright for this young man.

Meanwhile, Calder Cannons recruit, Tony Armstrong, had an unbelievable first quarter, and bought a lot of pace to the Sydney game.

It was pretty clear that this had been a major strategy for the Swans this week. They were playing an un-Sydney-like brand of football that focussed heavily on fast, play-on footy. Very much a free-flowing game as they played on at all costs.

And it was working. Swans led into the quarter by 22 points.

Soon enough, Conor and I agreed that we would prefer to sit rather than stand and so we went searching on the third level, behind the Essendon goals. Without too much trouble we found some, and with almost perfect timing, the second quarter began.

Rhyce Shaw was continuing his fantastic form from last week, as he drilled one home from a fantastic intercept. This was a common theme throughout the night.

The Sydney pressure on Essendon was amazing, forcing turnovers and clangers everywhere. But more than that, it was often the perceived pressure on the dons that really had a negative effect on Essendon’s disposal efficiency.

Dyson Heppell and Jobe Watson, were perhaps the only shining lights in what was a very poor quarter by Essendon.

Throughout the entire first half, incredibly, Essendon managed to kick 11 behinds to their singular goal, majority of them from set shots. This was due, from low-percentage shots out wide, and inaccurate kicking most likely caused by Sydney’s ability to close down the gaps and, again, put pressure on the Essendon attack.

From my point of view, it was a joy to watch.

I cheered and celebrated as Kieran Jack kicked two awesome goals, including an impressive left snap around the body which widened the halftime margin to 37 points.

During the long break I finally had a chance to gloat to my other Essendon friends, as it seemed that this would be the first Sydney win I had attended in Melbourne since a 39 point win over Carlton in Round 16 2010.

It was a long time since I had seen victory, and the only Swans supporters behind us agreed.

Conor, however had no choice but to laugh at Essendon’s misfortune. He was unhappy but was still optimistic for the second half.

As it turned out he would have to wait a full 16 minutes into the 3rd quarter until Howlett kicked a goal and broke the Don’s goalless hoodoo.

The game intensified, yet Sydney still looked the better team.

The explosive excitement from Lewis Jetta out on the wing, and the quick rebounds from Shaw, Grundy and Richards made this one of the finest football displays from Sydney in a long time.

The spread and run of the game was apparent from our aerial view of the field, and the sheer speed at which Sydney could turn defence into attack was something to remember.

The thing is, Essendon had plenty of their share of the ball. Majority of the game was played in Essendon’s forward half, and their inside 50 count was extraordinary considering their bleak score line.

You could tell Bombers were trying their guts out, yet seemingly received no reward for effort, as they squandered their opportunities at goal.

Dan Hannebery had knocked himself out, and from the big screen, appeared more than unhappy about his gifted red vest.

Warrior, Jude Bolton was playing terrific in-and-under footy as he always does, and Ryan O’Keefe too found plenty of the ball.

Bird linked up with Kieran Jack who delivered long to Lewis Roberts-Thompson’s mark and goal.

And Lewis Jetta, playing the game of his life received the ball from Jack and booted the ball high into the stands, landing literally three away from my third-tier seat.

I was so happy Swans were playing well, I believed nothing could bring them down.

This turned out to be a dangerous prediction.

The last quarter started and suddenly Essendon found the ball, and managed to actually kick straight.

Alwyn Davey kicked two consecutive, and Lovett-Murray’s burst through run-in goal bought the Don’s fans to their feet.

I still wasn’t fazed.

Hard work from Kennedy, who was relatively quiet, this match, linked with Jude Bolton who kicked an incredibly important goal. And he showed it, his celebration was as joyous as mine.

There was a feeling in the air. I didn’t like it.

It wasn’t long until Brent Stanton found the goals, and too, the momentum of the game.

Players like Myers, Dempsey and especially Watson stood up and fought back.

When Howlett hacked it from 50 and it just snuck over the line, the roar of the crowd was incredible.

Chants rang around the stadium and there was a belief in the team, that they could actually come back and win this.

Essendon was dominating in the clearances, and this set up an eerie Watson goal.

The margin was 16 points. NOOO! I was about to tear my hair out.

How could this happen? Please no! I crave a win!

But the crowd didn’t listen.

Their support was so loud, I felt like a drop in the ocean.

Why couldn’t this game be played in Sydney!?

Sure enough, the Bombers kept on coming. Watson led from the front, and the previously rare stoppages fell in the Bomber’s favour.

Leroy Jetta soccered a goal and I just wanted to lie down and die.

The margin was 4 points. The stress took years off me. I was overwhelmed with nervousness and panic.

Could it possibly happen? Could Sydney be the losing side in what would’ve been the greatest comeback in AFL history?

It was not fun anymore.

Suddenly, a McVeigh clearance bombed forward.

A Reid tackle, the ball spills to Jack who kicks it forward past the fumbling Fletcher.

Jack picks it up.

He’s running into goal, but he too fumbles!

A rushed handball to Lewis Jetta.

He picks up.

Snaps.

GOAL!!!

I jump for joy.

I scream at the top of my voice.

The Swans supporters behind us make the same amount of noise as the whole Bomber crowd.

But it is not over. Knowing full well, bombers would surge again.

Skipper Watson marks 35 out and goals.

It’s back to 4 points.

I can’t stand it.

The anxiousness is overpowering.

There can’t be much time left on the clock.

Another push forward.

How long can the clock go?

A long kick to Dempsey who marks on the 50.

He plays on.

The siren sounds at 35 minutes.

The Swans hold on!!!

It was pure elation as I share high-fives and hugs of joy, whilst the Don’s crowd feel despair, shame, and misery.

Thank God the Swans held on.

Thank God for that amazing game of footy.

Thank God I don’t have a heart condition!

Comments

  1. Lord Bogan says:

    Really enjoyed your report Jake. You captured the feel of the game beautifully, especially those amazing last few minutes. The relief!!

  2. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says:

    Oooh I felt it all again with you Jake. Well done!! Maybe the Junior Almanac page needs a similar kind of warning!!

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