AFL Round 7 – Essendon v Port Adelaide: Bad day at Lorne as Dons mown down

by Rod Oaten

Round seven, and The Dons are up against Port Adelaide at the Fish bowl behind Spencer Street Railway Station. A neighbour of ours referred to it as” Empty Head Stadium”, I liked it, so thanks for that Andrea, I shall with your permission, use that name from now on. Now at least Port Adelaide is a real football club with a great history unlike the other interstate clubs foisted on the suffering Victorian football public. This year they have fixed up their jumper, well sort of. They still have teal as a colour. I ask you, what’s teal got to do with football? As far as I’m concerned the only living thing that should be allowed to wear teal is a duck.

Now the Partner and I decided a few weeks ago to go to Lorne for the weekend, no problems with that I thought on covering this game, I’ll take the transistor over to the local footy match. But Lorne was playing Simpson at Simpson. So plan B, listen to the ABC call of the match. Wrong again, it’s only covered by commercial stations and while the reception was OK, it’s a tough ask to listen, well for me anyway. Everything on the broadcast is sponsored by some business or another, whether its miss kick of the day, fumble, mistake, turn over or dropped mark, it’s all thanks to some business, and Essendon surely provided lots of opportunities for the sponsors.  I seem to remember when Jack Dyer was broadcasting the only advertising during the game was the scores.

Anyway enough of this, the game is on and Port Jump the Dons early in a really physical contest and kick the first two, then Essendon answered with two of their own. Port again with two more and then Jake Melksham scores a great banana goal so by 1/4 time it was Port by 5 points. I felt that the Dons were the better side but maybe that was just my bias showing. Second quarter the Dons stepped up and played great footy and had a handy 3 goal lead early on, but for some reason they allowed Port back into the game and they said thanks, and kicked three unanswered goals. At the big break , the Dons were only one point up.

The third quarter rained goals; Port kicked 6 straight and Essendon 7 goals 5 behinds. Alarm bells were sounding for me. I remembered last years game against Adelaide when the Interstate team kicked so accurately to stay in the game , eventually beating the Dons comfortably.  Essendon surged ahead early in the quarter and then for some reason allowed Port to kick goals. Essendon should have had the game wrapped up at this stage; they had 22 scoring shots to Ports 15, but were still only12 points up. I know bad kicking is bad football and while some of the Essendon shots at goal made good advertising material for the commercial radio station, it left me decidedly unimpressed.

OK last quarter, and we increased our lead by another point but then Port turned it on again, and kicked four unanswered goals. Now I know that the Essendon Football Club is renowned for integrity and social justice and fair play but to allow your opponents to catch up for a good game of footy is taking it too far. We were clearly the better team and here we were in the last couple of minutes of the game staring defeat in the face.  A late goal by Monfries got us to within a goal, but then we ran out of time and the skill to kick to a team-mate in the remaining seconds of the contest.

So The Dons lost by three points, Lorne got a thumping at Simpson and MHSOB put up an improved show but were beaten by Old Haileybury. Not a great sporting day as far as I was concerned. The positives for Essendon are the improving form of Gumbleton, Hooker (complete with head bandages), Davey and the evergreen, reliable Dustin Fletcher who celebrated his 35th birthday during the week. We’ll probably need him to play for another 35 years.

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