ANZAC XVIII: A great great day

By Mark O’Connell

ANZAC day 2012 marked the 10th anniversary of one of the best days of all time. ANZAC day 2002 was the first year my cousin Noel and I ventured to the Dawn Service as part of the occasion which would also involve much eating, drinking, laughing and a game of Australian Rules Football. Each year since has been a great day, win or lose, but this year proved to be similar to the original for two main reasons; the weather and the inspiring nature of our victory.


The day began with a 3.10 wake up alarm and a rendezvous with Noel at a Docklands car park before journeying in together to the shrine. We stood in the persistent rain at a very poignant service before enjoying our first coffee across the street at the Observatory café at the Botanical Gardens. A woman at our table remarked to Noel and I that as a schoolgirl she had been taught History by a former Collingwood ruckman. She was initially struggling to recall the name but after we had thrown up a few suggestions she suddenly exclaimed “STEER!”


My only recollection of Trevor Steer is old replays of the 1966 Grand Final and I was pretty sure he wasn’t a ruckman but on retelling the story later in the morning at Medici restaurant to fellow Floreat Pican Len Hannah, Len recalled that he did very occasionally have a short stint in the ruck. I went to Wikipedia to check up on Steer and found the following


Trevor Steer (born 11 October 1938) is a former Australian rules footballer who played with Collingwood in the VFL during the 1960s.

Steer joined Collingwood from University Blacks in 1961 as a tall and reliable defender and played in two Grand Finals for Collingwood (1964 & 1966). He was made vice captain in 1966 and helped lead the team to a Grand Final which ended in a heartbreaking loss, it was his last game for the Magpies. His best season came in 1965 when he won the Copeland Trophy for Collingwood’s Best and Fairest player.


Medici saw the three of us enjoy a very hearty big breakfast, more coffees and a further opportunity to chew the fat. On farewelling Len, we made our way to the Baden Powell hotel and a rendezvous with other Picans TAFKATBM and Michael White together with various offspring. A couple of primers and then off to the G!


We started off ok with the first goal before having the ball locked in the Essendon forward line for several minutes. I remarked to the Artist that there was only one way the ball would come out and inevitably a goal did result after 3 behinds. The second half of the quarter was all Collingwood and it was universally agreed that we should have been at least 3 goals up at quarter time. It was to be a constant theme for the day. A fantastic never say die approach would see us break out to 2 and 3 goal leads at various stages but our lack of polish particularly by foot in the front half meaning that we were never able to break out to a winning lead. Looking ahead this remains a real concern that we have so few players forward who are naturally good kicks of the Sherrin. When we did get a set shot I never felt confident particularly when Goldsack shanked one from only 25 metres. Whilst digressing into negatives a little bit the kick out structures are currently non-existant. We are crying out for a new designated kicker to take the role Leon played so successfully last year. Perhaps Keeffe should be given the chance.

The match ups employed by both coaches seemed to be working well for us, particularly with Clarke keeping Stanton right out of the game and Pendlebury getting right on top of Hocking after a slightly subdued opening. Essendon seemed to lack a bit of zip after the win over Carlton which was a more difficult gig to come up from than our win over Port Adelaide.

The last goal of the half went the Bombers way and despite all our good work we had only a 12 point lead to show for it.


Essendon made a strong move in the third quarter and when they fortuitously gained a free kick for kicking in danger they drew level. Moments later they streamed into an opening goal and I slumped back in my seat believing we were 6 points down. Remarkably when I glanced up I saw that the ball had been brought back to the half back position and we were streaming forward ourselves. Having not seen any replay I’m still not sure what transpired. The highlight of the term was the powerful mark and goal in front from Swan who was determined to stem the tide and to help us regain the initiative.


When the last quarter began with a goal to Beams to put us 18 points up, things were looking promising. Essendon were not to be denied though and kicked the next 4 goals in the game, the last of which gave them the lead at the 27 minute mark. The much maligned Sinclair was prominent in the term including a fantastic smother on the wing but unfortunately his poor finishing stopped him from giving us the full advantage of his good work. In the end we were a bit lucky to win but clearances were critical and we had the edge with these over the day. The goal to Blair and the subsequent review meant dual celebrations but even then there was plenty of drama before the very welcome siren.


Our victory this year takes us to a record of 10 wins, 7 losses and 1 draw from 18 clashes. Whilst possibly nothing will ever quite match the original 1995 game, this year’s was about as good as you could hope for. A contest where both sides gave their all and which could have gone either way in that crazy last few minutes.


A few other observations


The rules regarding the review system need to be clarified as a matter of urgency.


Criticism of Dawes’ game is unwarranted. His game was more than serviceable despite that shocking kick at goal from about 20 metres.


The reluctance to use the sub earlier was a great source of frustration to me particularly when Essendon had been a man down since the first quarter and both sides were out on their feet. Ugle needed to be activated during the third quarter in my opinion.


It would have a been a horrible thing if the run down of Ugle from behind when the umpire called play on had resulted in the winning goal.


Votes for the Horsburgh Medal


3 votes


Dane Swan


No doubt whatsoever on this one. A superb performance where only a little more effectiveness with his kicking could have added improvement. His goals were all of high quality and his break away speed from packs was reminiscent of his peak form of the last 2 years. We couldn’t have done it without him.


2 votes


Steele Sidebottom


Always a big game performer because he has such poise on the big stage. Never rushes with his decision making and covers an enormous amount of territory. Kicking is sometimes awkward looking but still generally effective. Enjoying a much more consistent 2012  after his home and away form was criticised last year.


1 vote


Nathan Brown


I was a bit worried about him coming back for this fixture after more than 18 months out of the game but he slipped in beautifully. Pitted against the form forward in Crameri who had kicked 5.6 the week before, he held him to 0.0 and looked very much at home immediately. One of the real highlights of the day.


Honourable mentions to Scott Pendlebury who showed Heath Hocking what a real footballer looks like, Martin Clarke who is very quickly silencing the doubters re his return, Darren Jolly for a good four quarter ruck effort, Nick Maxwell and Lachlan Keeffe for their efforts down back, Ben Johnson despite his kicking woes and Dayne Beams who was a high possession gatherer. We had only a couple of strugglers in a pretty even performance.


For those who haven’t seen it the ANZAC medal voting was


Medal voting

9 – Dane Swan (Collingwood)

2 – Ben Johnson (Collingwood), Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood), Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood)

1 – Dayne Beams (Collingwood), David Zaharakis (Essendon), Dyson Heppell (Essendon)


How they voted

Tony Shaw (3AW, chairman) – Swan, Pendlebury, Beams

Luke Darcy (MMM) – Swan, Sidebottom, Heppell

Martin Blake (The Age) – Swan, Johnson, Zaharakis



A very memorable occasion. Even Essendon supporters seemed to take the loss reasonably well, consoling themselves that a 4-1 start is still very promising.


Let’s hope we can overcome the Dogs and Lions before having a crack at Geelong in Round 8.


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