AFL Round 10 – Sydney v Essendon: So much to play for

Saturday afternoon was cold and raining. With the building work, the SCG looked like a donut with a bite taken out but the remaining seats were full for the Swans and Bombers game. The Bombers had looked good but beatable. Sydney had started the year slowly but were looking better as it went on. Neil, the most pessimistic tipper in the world, said: “This may surprise you a bit but I’m tipping Sydney. They’ve got so much to play for.”

Their players sure did. There were a lot of players who were looking over their shoulders. Mumford had been playing poorly. Some of the fringe-dwellers were hoping that they had enough time to prove themselves before some of the injured players came back. The team had to show where they were really at.

Beyond the stories of the two teams, there were some other big stories swirling around. There was the story of a fine athlete abused and the story of how football dealt with it. I wasn’t sure that the league or the country had got it right. There didn’t seem much parity of sentencing between the humiliation of a young girl and the excuses for a man who should know better. And there didn’t seem much insight from those who said that Goodes was too sensitive. He had every right to be angry.

The crowd showed where their heart lay. They cheered Adam Goodes when he ran onto the ground. They cheered him when his face came up on the big screen. And I was with them.

The other story was the story of two cities. The AFL ruled one city. It was just one of the warring princes in the other. Eddie never seemed to understand that. He thought that every cent sunk into Sydney was a dollar that should have been sunk into Collingwood. In his mind, the game should sell itself. He had lived in Sydney. He obviously hadn’t learnt from the experience.

Neil’s uncharacteristic optimism didn’t even last until the bounce. “Remember,” said Neil, “how the Bombers came back from eight goals down to almost beat us last year”. I had an unpleasant memory of the Dockers almost doing it again this year.

The Swans were up a couple of goals at the end of the first quarter but the rain made sure that there wasn’t anything too spectacular. Neil leaned over to point his finger and say: “We have an extraordinary second quarter record.” You never questioned those sort of comments. Neil was the sort of bloke who would remember the highest number of boundary throw-ins in a game.

The stats starting meaning less in the second. Tommy Walsh who had finally broken into the Swans for a couple of games was being carried off. The Bombers kept at it and amidst some crowd nervousness, Goodes chased, tackled and later kicked a point on the fly. It drew the crowd back into the game. That was nothing compared to when a mark up in the forward line that he took strongly and serenely. And then he slotted it and the crowd loved it.

It took the Bombers fourteen minutes to kick one in the third but they came back with two goals early in the fourth and for a brief moment it looked like they were storming home. But the Swans were too good out of the centre and the black and red looked a little bit lost away from the dry grass of Etihad. The Sydney small men were just too skilled and too fast and the talls were in good form. Then Goodes kicked a goal over his shoulder and we were home. So we sang the song and Neil finished with: “This is a good win because they’re a good side.” He was right. It was a good win.

The crowd wandered into the darkness and the rain to celebrate a good game and a great story. A story of two teams and two cities and a story of a player who deserved better. Long after the statistics have been forgotten, people will still look back and remember a story of spirit and a game that was so much about a single player and how a team stood by him.

Sydney 3.4 6.7 11.10 17.13 (115)
Essendon 1.4 3.7 7.9 10.11 (71)
GOALS Sydney: Goodes 4, Malceski 2, Everitt, McGlynn, Bird, Kennedy, Jack, Jetta, Parker, Pyke, O’Keefe, Mumford, Mitchell. Essendon: Goddard 2, Carlisle 2, Crameri 2, Melksham, Winderlich, Hibberd, Bellchambers.

Sydney: McVeigh, Goodes, Kennedy
Essendon: Stanton, Heppell, Zaharakis,

Umpires Donlon, Dalgleish, Rosebury.
Official crowd 29,792, at SCG.
Malarkey medal 3 McVeigh (Sydney) 2 Stanton (Essendon) 1 Goodes (Sydney)

Ian Latham


  1. Peter Schumacher says

    A great read!

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Ian great write up ( Jamie Darams put me on to you ) so correct about Eddie not getting it ( both ways ) he escaped v lightly for his racial stuff up and 200 per cent correct how dare any 1 tell Adam Goodes how he should feel !
    Great summary of the game as well Thanks Ian

Leave a Comment