Round 1: Essendon V Hawthorn: The Comeback Story
Boy, was I proud to be an Essendon supporter on Saturday.
After the past few miserable seasons, Bomber supporters were finally looking for a change of fortune for our team and a return to our glory days, and with the opening season blockbuster against Hawthorn we were full of expectation and anticipation of better things to come.
Like many supporters, I was hoping and praying those bad times were finally behind us as I headed for Birrarung Marr to join the march to the MCG. A sea of red and black welcomed my pal and myself as we joined the joyful, vibrant and excited throng to sing, cheer and chant our way to the assembly area. We were as one and the feeling was good, really good.
From the stage, Sheeds, Fletch, TD, the Fish and others inspired and motivated us to even higher levels of belief in success for our team, not only against the Hawks but for the rest of the season. Yes, today was to be our day, the club was out to redeem itself, and yes, we were going to beat our arch rivals, hands down, no doubt about it! And it was up to us to make as make noise as possible, so show our support to our boys and to intimidate our opposition. We heeded the message loud and clear!
At the ground, our free T/shirts were eagerly donned, we practiced our scarf waving and I felt an overwhelming sense of pride at being a part of something wonderful as I gazed around the MCG knowing that I was one of many thousands of liked minded supporters who knew they were experiencing something really special.
As the Bombers came onto the ground and broke through the banner, we stood as one waving our scarves and jackets, singing the theme song, chanting, yelling, making as much noise as we could, the reverberation around the stands was as loud as I have ever experienced at the MCG. It was spine chilling. Things were looking good, or at least they were feeling good.
So with a great deal of trepidation, with our hearts in our mouths, the ball was bounced for the first time of the game. From that moment, to the relief and joy of the supporters, the team was ready to play. And play they did, they looked sharp, turned on, and were very quick both of foot and with their movement of the ball. With three quick goals on the board before the Hawks had scored one things were certainly looking good, and our expectations quickly rose. Our hope was that these expectations would continue to be met, and as we now know, they were. It was a great game for Bomber supporters, one to remember and to reflect upon as a turning point for the future fortunes of our team.
Zach Merrett was superb, continuing on from his best and fairest form from last season. Dyson Heppell was outstanding as captain, his second half was something special especially the crucial goals that he kicked at critical points in the game. Joe Daniher kicked three goals but it could have easily been six. Once he gets those straight kicking boots are on will ensure, and add, further excitement to his game. I thought he was important when he was on the ball and he drove the ball forward many times putting the opposition defense under increasing pressure. McKernan, against the odds, toiled manfully and played as a player intent on retaining his position in the team, something he wasn’t going to give up easily on the form he displayed. His goal in the third quarter was a beauty. Fantasia was fantastic, and as many supporters and pundits acknowledge, his star continues to rise and he will be an integral part of a goal scoring forward line this season. And, he has pace, lots of it. Josh Green had a good first up game for the Dons indicating he will be a more than handy acquisition for the team.
As the siren sounded to end the game, Essendon supporters rose as one, our relief was palpable as we cheered, sang the theme song, and some even cried overwhelmed by their emotions and joy for a fabulous victory.
Yes, we all felt in our minds, the Bombers are back!
Let the Comeback Story continue!
ESSENDON 4.4 5.8 12.12 17.14 (116)
HAWTHORN 2.3 6.10 10.14 12.19 (91)
GOALS Essendon: Fantasia 4, Daniher 3, Hooker 3, Heppell 3, Stanton 2, Zaharakis, McKernan
Hawthorn: Roughead 2, Puopolo 2, McEvoy 2, Rioli, Bruest, Schoenmakers, Shiels, Hartung, Smith
BEST Essendon: Merrett, Heppell, Goddard, Watson, Daniher, Parish
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Langford, O’Meara, Burgoyne, Birchall
Umpires: Foot, Findlay, McInerney
Official crowd: 78,294 at the MCG
3: Zach Merrett
2: Dyson Heppell
1: Tom Mitchell