AFL Round 18 – Essendon v Hawthorn: Buddy and his Bunnies

It is 1 v 2 but that statistical reality really doesn’t matter. It adds to the intrigue for a neutral observer but, like a Carlton v Collingwood game, it never matters where they are on the ladder. This is Hawthorn v Essendon – good v evil. This is hatred that is handed down through generations, even if it is tinged with respect and decorum. This is history, this is rivalry and this is passion. This is Melbourne and this is football. This is the meaning of life…well not quite, it’s a bit more important than that.

Some games are hyped but this one creates it’s own media maelstrom. So many anecdotes, so many stories, so many memorable clashes. The Herald-Sun listed 14 reason why these sides hate each other – could Watson’s Brownlow going to Mitchell instead be No.15? It was just lazy journalism in picking the most obvious as there were plenty that could be added to the list. Someone once listed 44 reasons to hate Essendon, in clashes between these two sides there are at least that many incidents – Ron Andrews v Barry Rowlings 1977, Kevin Ablett v Tim Watson 1980, Andrews v Matthews 1982, Dipper v Walsh 1984….when these sides meet something happens. Just to add spice to the situation the Windy Pills are having another off field week from hell with ASADA, Demetriou and the saga that just keeps giving.

Political correctness limits the actual sentiments emanating from the opposing camps but it is never far from the surface. Brereton and Hird are more than happy to share opinions of feelings for their adversaries. There is a line in the sand and there is white line fever. This is another chapter in the continuing story that is Hawks v Bombers.

History affects the present in many ways. For me the closure of VFL Park led to a life ban of supporting the AFL’s replacement Docklands ground. Therefore the clash of the year, as far as personal opinions go, will be played out on the TV at home in a comfortable chair.

Consensus says the Hawks should prevail but with these games it is best to wait until the fat lady clears her throat. Buddy is back against his bunnies. He has twice notched 9 goals against them and on another occasion kicked goal of the year twice within 5 minutes. The possession accumulator in Mitchell is also back while Essendon will still miss Watson. The signs are good.

The game starts at a frenetic pace with great skill levels under pressure from two obviously good sides. Essendon push numbers back and use their pace on the rebound to open up the Hawthorn defence as the Bombers move to a 4 goals to 2 lead. This worrying trend was arrested with continuing pressure football eventually getting control of the game by mid way in the first quarter as the Hawks, led by Buddy, kicked 8 of the next 9 to half time and effectively ending the contest.

All of Hawthorn’s big names are performing but it is the less heralded players like Guerra, Stratton, Savage, Hill, Simpkin, Bailey and Puopolo who are making this a complete performance. How are Burgoyne, Shiels and Birchall going to get back into this side? As Channel 7 flash the various stats up on the screen it is looking ominous for the Bombers. Possession wins matches and Hawthorn are controlling the ball.

At half time Mark Thompson is interviewed walking around the boundary and I think he sucks his gut in more than Mick Malthouse when he notices the cameras. If Bomber is worried about his middle age spread it would be better to hit the gym than to suck it in, it looks worse than Bartlett’s “I’m not bald, I just have a side parting above my ear” comb-over used to.

There are a couple of scares as Rioli and Gibson appear to injure themselves but they recover to play out the game. Everyone’s favourite goal umpire, Chelsea Roffey, appears to be wearing a bullet proof vest underneath her usual attire. Goal umps are wired up with various devices now but she appeared to be lumbered with an entire OB unit.

The second half is just a chance to enjoy and savor a victory over the old enemy with Buddy in party mode.

Best: The ones in brown and gold



  1. Nostalgia for the old days, eh? Hear, Hear! I say – and for the old battles also. Like you an armchair viewer of this game, and I don’t think the Hawks play well at Docklands, which makes the win all that much better. Great to see Buddy in form, but cheers for Roughead. Good report!

  2. Grant Fraser says

    Always the first game with a circle around it when the fixture is released (second being against the Silvertails). Two from two at Jihad this year. Very happy and relieved. Now for September.

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