AFL Round 5 – Essendon v Collingwood: Opportunities Lost On and Off The Field

Essendon versus Collingwood

2.40 pm, Thursday 25 April, 2013.

Melbourne Cricket Ground


Kevin Witham

For years now, PJ Branagan and I have taken a prominent position at the window of the Frank Grey-Smith bar in the MCC Members to enjoy the Collingwood Essendon game on Anzac Day. And every year we bump into the same people who cherish the clash as we do.


One of these regulars is a Collingwood supporter who made his fortune selling drugs, legally through retail chemists, and who is now a property developer and publican. For professional purposes I will refer to him here as “The Chemist”.


Like most football devotees, I’m a little over the discussion on performance enhancing drugs, high performance coaches and mysterious agencies like ASADA. But being a XXL fit when I visit my clothing retailer, I have become intrigued by a range of drugs known as AODs. If we’re talking about an option to rabbit diets and pavement pounding, I’m all ears. And I’m hoping The Chemist is going to be my advisor in this matter.


After another spine tingling pre-game ceremony to honour those who gave everything in order to allow us to enjoy the freedoms that make Australia the best country in the world, Scotty Pendlebury wins the toss and the game is underway. Immediately I’m critical of the Collingwood coaching panel for putting the substitute vest on Tyson Goldsack, a player whom I believe Collingwood should always have in the opening eighteen.


The first quarter is frenetic with Essendon making the most of their opportunities to lead by four points at quarter time. That old adage of “bad kicking is bad football” comes to mind and I am worrying that the simple shots Collingwood were squandering would cost them dearly at the end of the day.


Nearly sixteen minutes in, Collingwood’s Anzac Day nemesis, David Zaharakis, kicks the game’s first goal against the dominance the Pies had shown to this point everywhere but on the scoreboard. The quarter remains an arm wrestle with the Bombers going to the break with a four point lead. The Chemist is nowhere to be seen.


Another seven points in the second quarter sees the Pies trailing by four points at half time but I’m starting to get really concerned. Collingwood have been allowed to showboat a little but I can’t see Hird letting it go on much longer when the second half gets underway. The crowd in the Grey Smith bar is getting rowdy and there doesn’t appear anyway the bar staff can transact at a pace that will keep the punters happy. I feel The Chemist may have seen the writing on the wall and has retreated to a quiet corner with a red wine somewhere in the members.


The third quarter gets underway and the Bombers have come out firing. Four goals and as many points in the first fifteen minutes see Buckley lose patience with Sinclair and Goldsack gets to shed the dreaded vest. Twenty seconds later he goals and I’m polishing up my resume for the Pies coaching job. Goals to Swan and Cloke amid a barrage of inside fifties and the Pies faithful are feeling good about life. This feeling soon abates as late goals to Gumbleton and Bellchambers makes the Collingwood task harder. Cloke misses everything right at the end of the quarter to underline our plight. Whilst I haven’t given up hope of a Pies victory yet, I’m convinced “the chemist” has had a better offer.


The final stanza starts and goals to Billy Elliot and Goldsack get my blood pumping. Collingwood are struggling up forward where Carlisle has done a number on Cloke whereas Essendon are efficient if not ruthless when they go forward. Winderlich and Zaharakis cut us up in their forward line and kick three in this quarter between them while assisting in another couple.


The siren comes as a relief as the Bombers clearly can smell blood near the end of the game.


As I part company with my companion who has to travel back to Kyneton immediately after the game, I ponder the early morning walks and lettuce sandwiches that await me. My hope of looking as slim as an Essendon player has faded with The Chemist’s no show. I’m left to wonder if that whole profession has gone to ground.




Essendon         2.3 6.4 12.8 18.13 (121)
Collingwood    1.5 4.12 7.14 10.15 (75)

Essendon: Zaharakis 4, Winderlich 3, Davey 2, Merrett 2, Watson 2, Gumbleton 2, Bellchambers 2, Crameri 1

Collingwood: Blair 2, Pendlebury 2, Cloke 2, Goldsack 2, Elliot 1, Sidebottom 1



Essendon: Zaharakis, Watson, Winderlich, Stanton, Goddard, Carlisle, Hibberd

Collingwood: Swan, Pendlebury, Reid, Sidebottom, Shaw

Umpires: Rosebury, Meredith, Mollison


Official crowd: 93,373

Our Votes: Zaharakis 3, Winderlich 2, Swan 1

About Kevin Witham

Kevin Witham played over two hundred games of very enjoyable suburban football and is a Collingwood supporter who constantly finds himself sticking up for Nathan Buckley. He lives in Richmond and gets to the MCG almost weekly.

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