The Danihers


by Rod Oaten

It’s a long bow to draw the Port Fairy Folk Festival with the Essendon Football Club via the Danihers but seeing Anthony at the recent Festival, as I have for the last four or five years, sparked  up the grey matter and the writing bug.

I’ve been a regular at PFFF for the last 14/15 years and some of the performances I have seen and heard, will stay with me forever. Remembering back to Yothu Yindi , My Friend the Chocolate Cake, Sara Storer, Archie Roach, a sunburnt folk singer from Scotland by name Dougie MacLean, Louden Wainwright the 3rd, the Waifs and my favourite for this year Tinpan Orange are great memories. And up there with great memories of a different sort was the day the four Danihers played for the mighty Dons against St Kilda at Morrabbin in 1990.

The thought of the four Danihers playing in the one team had exercised my enthusiasm for the whole 1990 season.  At times I didn’t think it was going to happen, Neale whose promising football career was cruelly shortened by having  three total knee reconstructions , was making yet another comeback for the 1990 season, and things weren’t going all that well for him early in the season. Chris who had joined the Dons in 1988 had played a handful of games and then badly injured his finger in the middle of the season  and was battling to get into the seniors . Anthony had his jaw re-arranged against Fitzroy mid season, and missed seven or eight weeks, so the only Daniher in the team for many weeks was Terry.

Early in the season there was a State of Origin game at the SCG, Victoria v NSW. The NSW side had a quite a few Vic’s in their side which included the four Danihers and they gave the Victoria a “thumping” by 10 points on a wet night in front of about 13,000 spectators. Was this to be the only time they played together?

Last home and away game and Kevin Sheedy was playing games with the press about the four boys. I was giving my fellow teachers at Yarraville PS a daily “lecture” on how good it would be for footy if the four played together.

And so on the Thursday night the Essendon team included the four lads. I was over the moon and couldn’t wait to tell all the vitally ” interested” staff on the Friday. I remember one South Melbourne/Sydney supporter trying to hide from me, but I chased her down and gave her the good news.

Saturday morning and I was on my way to Morrabbin, in those days it wasn’t the friendliest ground to watch footy at, but any fears were dismissed as I walked from the station to the ground. I can’t remember what sort of a day it was, but when I saw the four lads run out onto the ground I knew this was indeed history in the making. It had never happened before and I’m absolutely certain it will never happen again.

Sheeds was up to his old tricks, Terry played full back instead of centre half forward, Anthony was on the wing instead of full back, Chris was around the centre area and Neale full forward.  I remember  at one stage of the game Terry kicking it out towards the wing  Anthony picked it up and passed to Chris who kicked to a leading Neale. Unfortunately some bumbling Saint  got in the way and stopped a “Daniher team goal” All the lads played really well as did the whole Essendon team and they ran out easy winners by 35 points. The four Danihers walked from the ground together to huge applause from the Essendon supporters and the majority of St.Kida fans.

So thanks Anthony for stirring up my memory of that day, hope I see you again at Port Fairy Folk Festival next year.





  1. Mark Doyle says

    Nice bit of heroworship Rod! I obviously failed the celebrity spotting test at Port Fairy in not identifying Anthony Daniher. Is he a genuine celebrity? I agree that Tinpan Orange were good, but not as good as Judy Collins, Eric Bibb and Staffan Astner, Chris Hillman and Herb Pederson, Archie Roach, John Butler and his wife Danielle ( aka Mama Kin ), Abigail Washburn and Kai Welch. the Sharon Shannon Band, Beoga and Battlefield.
    I am looking forward to this evening’s Eddie Reader concert in Geelong with support from Sarah Carroll.

  2. pamela sherpa says

    Rod , you will be pleased to know that I put the four Danihers in my Essendon song that is on the Coodabeens latest CD. I was pleased to meet Anthony at the Almanac- Daniher book launch a couple of seasons back. Go Bombers!

  3. GA Thompson says

    Any fond memories I have of that match is now unfortunately tainted by the role I perceive it to have played in the shameful debacle of the ’90GF

    Sheedy was in wind-down mode towards the end of that season with Watson, Ezard and Vander given space to get back to full speed for the final.
    Comfortably on top of the ladder, some of the more senior players were also given a breather against the Saints in this ‘spectacle game’ (i.e Duckworth, Harvey, Salmon, Antrobus)

    All of which, may have been a great idea/moot point – if Sumich hadn’t kicked that now famous point a week later in the first week of the finals – causing a replay of the Eagles/Pies clash and pushing the finals back a week (not forgetting the top team got a week off in the old fnals system)

    So for Salmon, Harvey etc., after the Round 21 Footscray clash on August 25, their next competitive clash was September 23 !! (longer break still for Watson, Ezard, Vander etc.)

    The Pies scored 10 goals to 2 in the second half of the second semi before repeating the dose in the GF

    Now, I know it prolly would have happened anyway – team reaching it’s peak vs. a tired team slowing down (like 2001) and all that…. – but I can’t help but permanently wondering what the impact of ‘The Daniher^4 game’ and ‘The Sumich point’ was

  4. Andrew Else says

    Couldn’t agree more GA. I still think that The Pies were the form team and ripe to win it, but the Daniher game and the Sumich point are massive ‘what ifs’

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