AFL Round 9 – Essendon v Sydney: Tangier Time

There’s a strange phenomenon you encounter when travelling in some parts of the world. Occasions where things don’t seem to run as you would expect. Morocco, and more specifically, Tangier fits that category almost perfectly. Mailing a letter back in an empty post office should presumably take minimal time, but an hour later you aren’t much closer to sending the items on their way. You have written down your address back home 25 times though, so with any luck the package will arrive. You arrive at the ferry port at 12pm expecting to depart at 2pm. At 4pm you haven’t moved an inch and are wondering exactly what is happening.

When you finally arrive in Tangier-Med Port at 6.15pm, you still haven’t actually arrived. There’s a shuttle bus to the main station which leads to a bus ride through heavy traffic to, well, a main roundabout on what is apparently the outskirts of the city. Incessant taxi drivers hassle you and invite you into dodgy looking vehicles, but turn out to be friendly and offer personalized taxi tours of the Medina, whilst giving you a five-minute rundown of Tangier.

When buying food from a street vendor, you pay and not twenty seconds later a grilled chicken sandwich is in your hands. I was unaware food could be made that fast. Down a tiny, windy alley, bartering for a (hopefully) leather bag or knick-knacks, you start off speaking English, throw in a little bit of French or Spanish if things go awry, only for the vendor to start speaking Arabic without warning.

It’s the Tangier way.

It’s confusing, exciting, slightly chaotic, enticing, and a bit disorienting.

Obviously, AFL doesn’t exist in Morocco so options for watching Essendon take on Sydney were completely none. Not to worry, there is free WiFi at the hostel! The invention that has revolutionised travelling. You can be (basically) anywhere in the world and still able to follow events back home as if you were there.

Unfortunately for me, the Bombers were well and truly adhering to Tangier time in the first quarter against Sydney. Not really keen on the idea of starting things on time or playing properly, we were six goals down at quarter-time. Not only that, but Buddy Franklin was doing what he does best against us – kicking goals. He continued on his merry way in the second quarter and by that time Essendon had no hope. So I switched off the WiFi and went for a stroll around Tangier.

Our forward line was once again completely dysfunctional – aside from a brief burst of goals in the second stanza – and despite Cale Hooker holding Kurt Tippett effectively, and Paddy Ryder and Brendon Goddard fighting hard against the superior Swans midfield (Hannebery, Kennedy, Jack and Bird) , we were never in the game. It’s times like these I’m glad I only get sporadic coverage. Sitting and watching us struggle? I can do without that.

I would much rather wander aimlessly through a labyrinth of side streets, back-alleys, find myself in a bustling market complete with goats’ heads lying around and headless chicken corpses everywhere, avoid touts claiming to be ‘tourist office guides’, kindly ignore the men trying to sell me hash at the main roundabout, and sample as much street food as I can find. Discover a taste of the exotic!

Perhaps that’s what Essendon needs?

Essendon – 1.1    5.3    6.6    9.10 (64)
Sydney – 7.1    12.4  15.4  18.6 (114)
Essendon: Ryder 2, Carlisle 2, Goddard, Zaharakis, Hocking, Daniher, Bellchambers
Sydney Swans: Franklin 5, McVeigh 3, Tippett 3, Parker 2, Kennedy, Derickx, Goodes, Rampe, Bird
Essendon: Goddard, Hooker, Zaharakis, Ryder, Heppell, Watson
Sydney Swans: Kennedy, Bird, Franklin, K.Jack, Parker
Kennedy (3), Franklin (2), Jack (1)

About Sam Laffy

Thirty-something year-old Essendon supporter. Winning the flag in 2000 when I was 12 was supposed to kick off a dynasty I could boast about for years. Still waiting for that 17th flag.....


  1. Enjoyed your tale Sam. Morocco’s a memorable place. The boiled camel heads in Marrakesh’s Jemaa el-Fnaa square will always stay with me! I look forward to reports from futture destinations.

  2. Glad you enjoyed the read! Tangier was certainly memorable – I have heard interesting and amazing things about Marrakesh from people I met there!

    I’m not completely sure where I will be for Essendon’s next game, but I will be sure to report in.

  3. Simon Bogli says

    A lot of the Beat writers such as Jack Kerouac, William S Burroughs et al were very fond of Tangiers during the apogee of their success.

    Unfortunately, for Essendon supporters, I think the Burroughs novels (even the cut up ones) have more coherence than the Essendon forward line at the moment.

    I cannot wait for the Melbourne v Essendon game on 15 June where the aim will be to kick the lowest possible score known to man and even to Ross Lyon.

Leave a Comment