AFL Round 9 – Essendon v Sydney: Two beers and no mate

I turn 36 tomorrow. As I get ready to head to the game I wonder is 36 too old to wear a football jumper? Probably. I have been stopping a lot of things lately. I need to snap out of it and realise I’m not ready for the pension yet. Good old uncle Tony Abbott tells me I’ll have to work until 103 to get it anyway. Bugger it. I put on the long sleeve and catch the Williamstown line train to Etihad.

The first thing I see when I enter the ground is Ray Shaw holding the hand of a little girl decked out in Red and White. I suspect this is the daughter of Rhyce. I bet Ray didn’t see this coming a few years back. New bonds have been formed.

I am here under protest today. A few weeks back I received an email from the club telling me that tonight’s match was a ‘fully ticketed affair’ and my Swans membership would not get me into the game. Well bugger me. I thought my membership was pretty clear when it said ‘entry to all Victorian matches’. $8 to upgrade my General Admin provided under my membership to a reserved seat and a $7.50 Ticketmaster booking charge. It is not the money. I feel misled. I decided not to go. A crap week at work and I needed a release so I relented. The relationship has taken a hit though.

I decide not to take my seat in row triple z in the sky and instead take up a standing room spot behind the goals.

The Swans are quick out of the gate. It is the usual suspects. Kennedy, Jack, Hannebery. The Bombers look slow and try to go from Melbourne to Sydney via Adelaide with their ball use. Franklin is on tonight. He seems to have added a new skill to his bow with his contested marking. A seven goal first quarter and the game is just about shot.

I hope ‘Old Mate’ standing next to me in the old South Melbourne Jumper has played the game before given the plethora of advice he has for every player. The game certainly seems easier to him with half a dozen Bourbon and Cokes under his belt.

The anger of the Bombers fans builds in the second quarter. Joe Daniher in particular comes in for some almighty sprays. Cut the kid some slack. Big blokes need time. The same dickheads will probably be lauding him in a few years when he comes good.

The Swans have found their groove. Luke Parker is hitting the scoreboard and is making the transition from talented youngster to one of the first picked. Goddard is finding a fair bit of the ball but the Bombers forward line is as thin as my hair line.

I text my mate DK to try and line up a half time beer. I set out the location and head off to the bar to grab a few. As I part with my $14 (thanks for coming) and wait for DK I am approached by a mid 40s something punter.

“f-ck me, 7.50 for a mid strength”, he says as a stray bit of his spittle hits my eye. “F-ck the AFL,” he says with such venom and anger. I nod politely as he walks away.

Five minutes pass. No DK. Must have decided to take a slash. I stand around like a spare dick. At about the 9 minute mark I start to think he is not coming. I am like the jilted groom whose Bride has run off with the Plumber. No explanation. Oh well two beers for me it is.

I see something in the third quarter that I have never seen in my life. The umpire is KOd. Gone down like Frank Bruno v Mike Tyson. The crowd seems to delight in it all. This doesn’t seem right. I feel uneasy as the feral mob bay for blood. Sure, have a laugh if he has pinged his hammy but not at this.

Much of the same in the second half. No real sense of a contest. The atmosphere is flat. Fletcher finds himself on Franklin. In a great sense of theatre Buddy tries to baulk him but the old man is having none of that and hangs on for dear life. Age wins out and Buddy breaks free but you have to admire what the 39 year old can do. Jack continues to find the pill.

The Swans run out 50 point winners and the drama of the first few weeks is far behind. The team is coming together. Time will tell but I suspect we will be in the thick of it come September.

I jump on the train and head for home with the four points in the bag wondering if DK is still trapped in the urinal?


Sydney: 7.1 12.14 15.4 18.6   114

Essendon 1.1 5.3 6.6 9.10       64

Best Sydney: Kennedy, Parker, Franklin, Jack

Best Essendon: Goddard, Ryder, Watson

My Votes. 3 Kennedy, 2 Parker, 1 Franklin

About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.


  1. Simon Willcox says

    Good read Craig thanks
    Swannies back in form
    Fletcher/Buddy battle was interesting
    They should bottle Dustin’s blood for the next Marvel super hero.
    Know your pain with the beers
    Hope the bastard apologised or at least had a broken leg

  2. Essendon are playing with the careless abandon of men facing the guillotine.
    Their supporters are Madam Defarge sitting at the executioner’s feet baying for blood. Any blood. Except their own.
    The 2 collisions were entirely accidental to my eye. Footy is a 360 degree game so keeping your eye on your opponent, the ball and the 3 umpy’s can be impossible. Hurley and Hanneberry were both hard at it.
    Move along please, nothing to see here.

  3. Chris Bracher says

    Good job Craig
    I never thought I would say it, but yesterday my relationship with my club/ big brother AFL/”Darklands ” stadium also took another hit …..maybe of the mortal variety…….with that all-ticketed fiasco that is the annual Essendon game. 18 consecutive years of loyal membership is potentially under threat. Everyone has their breaking point.

  4. craig dodson says

    Simon I can see fletch the action movie coming soon. Chris I am glad I am not the only one so annoyed at the ticketing. Not sure they are listening though

  5. Joe Moore says

    A great read, Craig. Terrific performance early on from the boys, cruised through the rest of the match.
    Totally agree that the reaction to the umpire being knocked out didn’t seem right. There are some absolute morons out there, that’s for sure.
    Hope you have located DK!

  6. Simon Bogli says

    I don’t think the booing of Daniher is an one-off occurrence.

    Stanton, who is a solid player on his day and certainly is not in the bottom 6 players picked in the seniors, attracts similar opprobrium from the same sort of supporters.

  7. Peter Fuller says

    My brother endorses your (and Chris’s) grievance about the extra charge. He is a fifty year Swan, played a single VFL game, as well as a few seasons at lower level at the Lake Oval.
    I noticed your continuing quest for an old style Swans guernsey in Rick Milne’s column in the Footy Record. I hope that you get a result.
    IMO, you’re definitely not too old to wear the club jumper to matches, although my (completely uninformed) fashion advice would question whether it’s appropriate street wear. I have about three decades more on the clock than you, and I wear mine to matches. I occasionally make the concession of just donning it when I arrive at the ground.

  8. craig dodson says

    Thanks Joe – yep we certainly have picked things up in recent weeks. Massive test vs Cats coming up.

    Peter – it certainly seems the extra charge has angered a lot of people. I don’t think my complaint to the Swans did much unfortunately. The quest still continues unfortunately. Ricks column did lead to one enquiry from Ganmain of all places. While I live in Melbourne I am originally from Wagga and Ganmain is about 45 minutes up the world. Small world. Unfortunately what he wanted was beyond my budget. I’ll keep plugging away.

    Thanks for the advice re the Jumper. My wife certainly would not be seen by me wearing one as street wear!

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