ANZAC Day2011

ANZAC XVII

by Mark O’Connell

I sent a brief email to the Herald sun about 2 weeks ago suggesting they promote this year’s game as ANZAC XVII. I received no reply but this year there have been repeated references to this being the 17th clash of the 2 sides on this day. In no previous year do I recall anything similar so maybe my suggestion had some effect.

The build up to this year’s game included the awarding of retrospective ANZAC day medals for the years 1995 to 1999. I support  this despite the misgivings I have that the votes were cast purely from video observation. With Collingwood receiving 4 of the 5 medals on offer it has to be a good thing!

The players receiving the medals all seemed genuinely thrilled to receive the recognition.

It was particularly interesting that for both Sav’s medals in 1995 and 1998 that Bucks received the 3 Brownlow votes each time. I don’t think there is too much argument that his 9 goal haul in the draw in 1995 deserved the medal but in 1998 the first of his seven goals did not come until after the half time siren. Whilst the retrospective judges were unfazed by this and awarded the maximum votes, the umpires left him out altogether suggesting they look for an even performance over the entire game rather than a match-winning half.

This whole voting thing got me thinking that in fact too much emphasis is probably placed now on video analysis to award votes which takes away from the emotion and passion experienced from the game itself. You hear coaches say they have to go back and look at the tape – I think votes should be able to be given after the viewing of the game on the day.

I remember Rocca’s performances very well but don’t really recall whether Russell and Monkhorst were the best on the day. I was pleased for Monkey as he has had to endure the stigma of the racism row with Michael Long every ANZAC day since 1995. Obviously he was in the wrong but was something of a scapegoat given the frequency of such occurrences back then. Michael Long himself was not exactly lily-white on the field and remains the only player in history to be suspended in 3 consecutive AFL games. He should have just about been rubbed out for life for what he did to Troy Simmonds in the 2000 GF.

The 1999 game I recall being decided by 2 dubious free kicks to the Bombers in front of goal in the dying minutes. I was devastated at the time, similar to the feeling after the 2009 loss. If not for this we may have claimed a clean sweep of the 5 medals on offer. We do have through Chris Tarrant the only medal awarded to a player on the losing side though.

It seems to have been forgotten over time that the ANZAC day medal was not necessarily intended for the best on ground but for the player who best typified the ANZAC spirit. Seeing Andrew Lovett’s name on the honour roll further highlights how this original intention is now only a distant memory.

The day itself began at 3.10 am when I sprung out of bed to prepare for the Dawn Service. I met my cousin Noel at 4.30 at a Docklands carpark and journeyed in from there. Unfortunately it wasn’t one of the better services as it was marred by audio difficulties. The opening oratory by Tony Charlton was barely audible and even when the sound was later cranked up somewhat it was still not ideal. The crowd was well down on recent years also, Noel putting it down to the clash with Easter.

The game itself saw us continue our recent trend of flying starts as the first quarter was played at a frenetic pace. I wondered how the players would ever get through 4 quarters with the amound of running they had to do. When Beams lined up for the first of the day I said to Paul down his glasses and he didn’t let me down. Two poor efforts by the overrated Stanton firstly with a badly weighted kick out of defence and then a weak tacking effort on Pendlebury helped us draw further away. Whilst the Bombers went inside 50 a similar number of times they didn’t look threatening and overall our ball handling was much surer and if not for a dropped mark in the goal square by Dawes we could have led by even more. The second term could be summed up by a span of about 10 minutes from the 3 till the 13 minutes mark.  After Pendlebury slotted his second goal Brown went into the ruck and the Bombers completely dominated general play and had the next half dozen scores  though only 1 goal. After Bellchambers finally kicked their first Jolly came on. We immediately won the centre clearance resulting in a goal to Didak. Jolly then took a great  relieving mark on the half back line and we started winning most of the clearances again. The half time lead of 19 points was handy but clearly it was game on.

The third term saw the lead whittled away within 8 minutes. The bombers looked right on top and seemed to want it more. Ball then bobbed up to kick just about the most important goal of the day for us and we further steadied through Brown who was improving on his dismal first half. Continuing the trend of goals kicked from the goal square Beams’ second meant that for all Essendon’s efforts  they had only made up 5 points. I didn’t feel that confident at the last change and when Hille and the impressive Crameri kicked the first 2 goals of the quarter we really had to dig deep. The next 10 minutes or so was all Collingwood with 3 goals to Cloke who had impressed all day even without troubling the scoreboard attendant and 1 to the very quiet Dawes . Because of the finish in 2009 I remained nervous right up to the killer blow by Sidebottom and then fittingly Pendlebury took the margin to 5 goals after the bell after an uncharacteristic error by Fletcher.

Votes for the Michael Horsburgh medal

3 votes

Scott Pendlebury

Sensational player. A far inferior performance was good enough to earn him the Norm Smith so who am I to argue with Garry Lyon and Hugo Vaughan (?) on the ANZAC medal panel. I will argue with BT though! (more on that in a moment).

2 votes

Travis Cloke

His marking and work in the first half was fantastic I thought and then stood up in a big way when the game was on the line. In career best form

1 vote

Darren Jolly

Took on 3 rucks and beat them all. Used his guile at the centre bounces to outmanoeuvre the opponents and was crucial at important times. Similar to his game in GF2

Honourable mentions to Heath Shaw (never gets the credit he deserves), Ben Reid (as good a display of field kicking out of the backline as you’d ever see), Alan Toovey (beat his direct opponents pointless and provided dash), Luke Ball (always the unsung hero), Sharrod Wellingham (his best game to date) and I thought Tarrant was ok too.

I didn’t mind Leon’s game overall but he still had several clangers . The awarding of 3 votes for the medal by Brian Taylor I feel is an embarrassment particularly as BT is such a long standing Leon supporter.  Surprisingly though I see Malthouse has said he felt Leon wasn’t far off it. I don’t know…..

Overall we remain on top with 5 out of 5. Good old Collingwood forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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