AFL Round 13 – Essendon v Melbourne: When in Melbourne!

Round 13: Essendon v Melbourne, MCG
Sunday 15 June 2014
Kevin Hawkins


“So which team am I supporting?” Marianne asked me, as I handed her a scarf and beanie. “The Melbourne Demons,” I informed my Singaporean cousin, who had arrived in the city only days earlier. Upon touching down in Melbourne, she asked me for tourism recommendations. Taking her to the football this Sunday afternoon was my natural response.


As we walked through Treasury Gardens towards the MCG—using the light towers protruding above the trees as our compass—I briefed Marianne on the Bombers-Demons recent rivalry, beginning with the 2000 Grand Final and concluding with last year’s 148-point loss. I joked that since then, Melbourne had become a 70-point better team and that Essendon was a 70-point worse team. As such, tonight’s contest promised to be a close game.


Fifteen minutes into the match, my prediction seemed a little generous. Essendon had launched the ball inside 50 fourteen times to Melbourne’s zero. I checked with Marianne to see whether she was following the game. She asked me why Melbourne sucked so much.


In the dying minutes of the opening quarter, Melbourne’s experimental forward James Frawley had a chance to kick the Demons’ first, from 25 metres out. As his kick drifted to the right, the crowd groaned. “My mother could have kicked that, and she’s 84!” a man behind me screamed. Marianne laughed. As frustrated as I was by Frawley’s defender-esque shot at goal, the pleasure she derived from this classic Aussie jibe gave me some comfort.


At the main break, the Bombers had three times as many scoring shots, and were up by 21 points. Marianne turned to me. “If they’re so bad, why do you still like them?” she enquired innocently, the way a schoolchild might casually ask their religious education instructor why they believe in God. I gave her a brief lecture about bandwagoning, the cardinal sin of Melbourne. But after the recent years of pain, I’d be lying if I said I’d never contemplated life on the other side.


The Demons of 2007-2013 would have crumbled in the second half. Completely outmatched in every statistical category except hitouts and hanging onto nothing except the Bombers’ poor luck, a blowout loomed. When David Zaharakis slotted his second early in the third term, the game looked dead and gone. Marianne applauded Zaharakis’ efforts. Dejectedly, I made no effort to stop her. This was her first, and probably only, AFL game. I may as well let her enjoy it, I conceded.


But then something strange happened. Something so unlike the Melbourne of yesteryear, yet so characteristic of Paul Roos. A fightback.


It was subtle at first, a goal from Dean Kent giving Demons fans a reason to delay their inevitable premature exit. Minutes later, Jack Grimes kicked the Demons’ third for the quarter, an unlikely captain’s goal from a similar place in which he had missed earlier. All of a sudden, the Demons’ players looked sharp. Their half chances were hurting the wasteful Dons, who found the ubiquitous Lynden Dunn and the red-heeled Tom McDonald at the end of all their forward thrusts.


The barrage continued into the final quarter. Cam Pedersen mimicked Lance Franklin’s efforts from a day earlier and bombed one from 60 metres. Frawley then snapped one across his body that no 84-year-old woman should ever attempt. Jack Watts joined the party with a Dunn-esque intercept, before Kent ran half the field for a three-bounce contender.


Sensing the script wasn’t fair, Zaharakis returned fire with two rapid-fire shots. The story could have ended there, with the supplement-free Bomber taking home three Brownlow votes and a front page photo. But this Melbourne—Roo’s Melbourne—wasn’t going to relent. Dunn, the hero all day, spoiled Brent Stanton’s potential sealer with two minutes to play. But it came down to a last-ditch team effort—a chain of ten Demons in the right place at the right time—that gave Melbourne a one point win to savour. The last man in that chain was substitute and seventh gamer Christian Salem, who elder statesman Daniel Cross entrusted via a clever kick.


With each Demon goal, I stood up and punched the air, giving the Bombers supporters directly behind me an intermittent view of my back and the low-flying seagulls a disincentive to swoop. Marianne caught onto the routine too, her momentarily flirtation with Essendon a distant memory.


I could be wrong, but her enthusiasm seemed genuine. She may have known few of the rules, and even less about the ASADA scandal which the media used to contextualise the shock result. But she could appreciate that she was watching something pretty special. She was well and truly witnessing Melbourne in an unfamiliar light.



ESSENDON                 2.4    5.12    8.12  10.17 (77)
MELBOURNE              0.3    3.3      7.6     12.6 (78)

Zaharakis 4, Ambrose, Ryder, Z. Merrett, Chapman, Goddard, Daniher
Melbourne: Pedersen 2, Frawley 2, Kent 2, Watts 2, Jones, Grimes, Vince, Salem


Essendon: Zaharakis, Goddard, Hibberd, Heppell, Carlisle, Chapman, Myers

Melbourne: Dunn, N Jones, Viney, McDonald, Howe, Jetta, Kent, McKenzie, Frawley


 Jake Melksham substituted out at three-quarter time for Elliott Kavanagh
Melbourne: Aidan Riley substituted out in the third quarter for Christian Salem
Reports: Nil
Umpires: Hosking, Schmitt, Pannell
Official crowd: 44,622 at the MCG

Our votes 3. Lynden Dunn, 2. David Zaharakis, 1. Nathan Jones


About Kevin Hawkins

Kevin is a 22-year-old Melbourne Demons supporter. He's not a very good kick, though, because his mother made him go to Chinese school instead of Auskick. When not at the football, Kevin edits Farrago Magazine and heads up the Live Below the Line charity campaign.


  1. Ian Peters says

    Excellent summary of the game and I agree with the best players.
    Long time Demon supporter Ian.

    I too, had a first time attendee at the game.
    An Irish lady in her late 70’s who has been a MFC member for two years and was watching her first live game of AFL, a non home game!.

    She enjoyed the game and some of my explanatory comments.

    Go Dees!

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