AFL Round 12 – Essendon v Gold Coast: Hey Joe

By Jake Norton

Footy doesn’t lend itself to sledging quite like, for instance, cricket, a game seemingly tailor-made for blokes with appetites as healthy for heckling as much as the fare on offer at the afternoon tea interval.

With commotion constant and players dynamic, footy’s lore just isn’t as rich with chronicles of the sledge as its summertime cousin.

It is perhaps due to this relative scarcity of fabled on-field one-liners that our inner larrikin is so delighted when such a new gem is learned.

From Michael Voss’s uncharacteristically clever “My dad… your mum” gibe levelled at his brother Brett, to Andrew Mackie’s now-famous “We should only get two points for beating this mob,” quality football wisecrackery is to be celebrated with a gratitude that its rarity deserves.

It’s also the reason that I already love Joe Daniher.

I’ve heard plenty about Joe.  That we are relations in-law (albeit strangers) notwithstanding, his name has been common in Essendon supporters’ conversations since his big brother Darcy was selected by the Dons as a loss leader in 2007.  (For further information on this concept, see Cloke, J and C.)

While on the subject of Darcy, it would be remiss at this point not to mention his own special place in footy’s frivolous hall of fame.  Or infamy, as it were.  That dubious honour was earned when Brendan Fevola bet the then-rookie $100 that he would not last the full game on the Blue spearhead.

As it happened, Fevola kicked 4.7 on Darcy, who went on to win the bet while his Bombers won the game.

Fast-forward more than five years to May 2013, and it was the turn of the junior Daniher to experience gamesmanship from a far more seasoned opponent for the first time.

Mail has it that young Joe was lining up for goal in an early-season VFL match at Windy Hill when the man standing the mark completed a withering tirade on his scarcely pubescent rival with a remark regarding the clarity (or otherwise) of the adolescent’s skin.  It’s not exactly witty or novel to jeer a teenager for having acne, but hey, I don’t think we’re talking about a particularly replete cupboard here.

The baby Bomber, impervious to the dermatological diatribe, went backed and kicked the goal.

Then, upon returning to their positions, the hitherto silent Daniher asked calmly of his opponent, “What are you up to tomorrow?”

Knowing well that the non-professional VFL player would undoubtedly be faced with having to turn up to his day job sore and sorry the following day, Daniher allowed enough time for the question to be absorbed, but not long enough to allow a reply, before adding, “Because I’ll probably sleep in, then come in here for a massage, maybe have a sauna or a swim.  Not sure really.”

So as I said, I already loved Joe Daniher before tonight.  But I love him even more tonight.

His debut last weekend was as promising as once could expect from a six-foot-six child: possession count in the mid-teens, handful of marks, generally worthy contribution to a victory over Carlton.

If that freshman performance was what marketeers might call a soft launch, his sophomore game against GC17 (what happened to that neat little alphanumeric appellation?) signals an arrival of 1964 Beatles proportions.  Three first-half goals and mark after robust contested mark belie his mantis-esque appearance and provide a fearsome forecast of what’s to come.  He ensures that the game is all but dead and buried by half time.

Most pleasingly, Daniher’s presence in the Essendon forward line appears to provide welcome remedy to what has in recent times frustratingly dysfunctional attack; tonight is the first time since Anzac Day that the Bombers have kicked more goals than it has behinds.

Ably supported by Stewart Crameri in the front half, the uber-reliable triumvirate of Watson, Ryder and Goddard across the middle, and a resurgent Tayte Pears in defence, Daniher’s is the leading story in what is otherwise a predictable affair.  Only marginally behind is the performance of Jaeger O’Meara, who may already have out-Cotchined Trent Cotchin in but a dozen games.  GC17 is going to be a formidable team in the very near future.

But tonight is Joe’s night.  One gets the feeling it might be the first of many.

Essendon            4.3          9.3          13.7        17.13 (115)

Gold Coast          1.2          5.5          7.5          11.6 (72)



Essendon: Daniher, Crameri 3; Hurley, Ryder 2; Davey, Myers, Howlett, Kommer, Goddard, Stanton, Hibberd.

Gold Coast: Rischitelli, Brown, Nicholls 2; Harbrow, Ablett, Prestia, Hutchins, Day.



Essendon: Goddard, Ryder, Watson, Hibberd, Crameri, Pears, Daniher.

Gold Coast: Ablett, O’Meara, Harbrow, Thompson, Brown, Sumner.


UMPIRES: Farmer, Schmitt, Mollison.


CROWD: 31,452.


OUR VOTES: Daniher (Ess) 3, Goddard (Ess) 2, Ryder (Ess) 1.

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