AFL Round 22 – Carlton v Essendon: A tough month

It’s been such a tough month or so for Don tragics like me , that I really would have preferred to stay home on Saturday night and watch RocKwiz.  But no, I have been challenged by the Carlton Four for a pre-game drink at the Cricketers Bar at The Windsor.  I can’t believe it,  but I even felt slightly uneasy dressed in my vintage Essendon cap and scarf as I got on the 96 tram.  A couple of fellow passengers looked slightly bemused by my presence. Three of the Carlton four  turned up and were quietly confident.  I reckon, judging by our form of late, and all the things that were going on,  if Carlton only won by fifty points that would be a “win”  for the Dons.  Such was the state of my mind. Such was my optimism.

I cheered the Dons as they ran out to face their old enemy. What must be going on in their minds? What is a win worth? I guess when you are playing Carlton just to beat them justifies playing.  The crowd was way down on what I would have expected, the final tally was just over fifty thousand. Surely a clash like this would normally be up around eighty thousand on this mild Saturday night.  The old enemy were incredibly wasteful in front of goals in the first quarter. They sprayed them all over the place, not, luckily for the Dons, through the big ones. Essendon were hanging in there, and even though Carlton had six more scoring shots they were only a point up at quarter time.

It was the Dons’ turn to be inaccurate in the second quarter, they scored two goals five to Carlton’s  two goals one. The rabid Carlton mob continued to boo Jobe Watson whenever he had the ball. I can’t come to grips with what’s going on in their tiny minds, but then again every thing to do with Carlton FC has never engendered kind thoughts in our family. The Dons skill is improving, they are hitting more targets and combining better. Jobe Watson, Brendan Goddard, Cale Hooker were inspirational. At half time the Dons are up by three points. Up by three points!   Am I dreaming?

After the big break Carlton take charge. I have that sinking feeling. They are superior all over the ground.  I even briefly thought about going home, but no, I come from four generations of Dons, you stick it out!!!!!  Thankfully the “Wayward Blues”  have still not learnt to kick accurately, they kicked two goals eight to the Dons’ two straight goals. They should have stitched the game up at three quarter time, but only lead by seventeen points despite having twelve more scoring shots.

I couldn’t believe it, but when David Myers kicked a goal early in the last quarter, the Dons were still in the game. I sensed a bit of panic in Carlton.  The Dons seem to run faster, tackle stronger and rediscover spirit.   Carlton couldn’t buy a goal all night and the last quarter was no different, whereas the Dons were making the most of their opportunities. David Hurley and Paddy Ryder scored big ones ,and the unthinkable  was happening before my eyes. Not only are we in the game, but we are finishing all over the panic stricken blues. Scores are level with just a few minutes to go.  The tension is unbelievable. David Zaharakis ( remember Anzac Day 2009)  swoops on a botched mark from a Carlton defender and slams one through from an angle. The Don supporters erupt. Twenty seconds later the siren. The Dons by six points. The team ” were over the moon”.  Supporters  ecstatic. I sat there for a couple of minutes in stunned disbelief, we had done the unbelievable.

Whatever happens over the next few weeks, who cares, we beat the old enemy.

Essendon 12. 10. 82  defeated Carlton 9.22. 76


Essendon: Hurley 3 Watson 2 Crameri 2 Goddard, Myers, Zaharakis, Kommer, Ryder

Carlton: Yarran 2 Menzel 2 Gibbs, Armfield, Betts, Henderson, Tuohy


Essendon: Goddard, Zaharakis,Ryder, Watson, Hooker, Pears,  Baguley

Carlton: Murphy, Yarran, Robinson, Betts, Simpson, Henderson


  1. Congrats on sticking it out, Rod. I was hoping for a Nil All Draw, but in the aftermath I decided that I disliked Carlton and Mick more systemically than Essendon. If you get rid of Smarmy Jim for life I could tolerate the Bombers under Bomber more than I will ever accept the Born to Rule Blues.

  2. Peter Fuller says

    My congratulations also Rod. Much of your report rang true for me – on the other side of the partisan divide. I sensed a strange tension in the air on my train journey to the game, and in the stand prior to the bounce. I also saw the game much as you did, and the final score seemed entirely improbable. Naturally, my response to the outcome was the polar opposite of yours. Well done to your team, and full marks to you for fronting, and sticking it out when the prospects were bleak.

  3. Michael Viljoen says

    “Whatever happens next week, who cares, we beat the old enemy.”
    That’s what we said after the ’99 Prelim final.

    I think it’s ironic that Richmond makes the finals in the year ninth might be good enough to get in.
    They’ll probably be the ones having to front up against ninth.

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