Bomber Return


Essendon versus Geelong – 7.10pm, Saturday, 2 July – Docklands Stadium


by Phil Dimitriadis

Geelong fans were treated with contempt by Mark Thompson last year. The brooding surliness and lack of respect he showed extracted understandable displays of righteous anger from the Cat’s faithful. Yet he coached them to a drought-breaking premiership and reigned over the club’s best era since the early 1950s.Forgiveness will come, but it won’t be swift. Broken relationships take time to heal and tonight is not for building bridges.

The Cats should be in a murderous mood. The inclusion of Ottens, Bartel, Kelly, Stokes, Hunt and Vardy indicates that they want to humble Bomber and the Bombers. Logic points to a predictable result, but logic and predictability can be undone by footy’s Dionysian spirit. Bomber may have lost his hunger, but the Cats’ fangs have sharpened and their appetite for the contest is as fierce as it has ever been.

Geelong dominates the first few minutes.  Christensen gets Geelong away with a beautiful blind turn and crumbing goal. Then he and Stevie J miss fairly easy shots, and then Christensen sneaks another one through. Essendon are trying to compete, but seam ridiculously out of their depth. Another turn over, a snap from the fast improving Vardy and the game looks shot ten minutes in.

Heppell scores to give the Bombers heart, after some great ruckwork by Ryder and vision by Zaharakis. Uninhibited youth appears to be the Dons’ only hope.  Monfries kicks a beautiful banana after great play by Melksham, who shows dash. The Essendon young guns are backing themselves with run and risk through the corridor. Welsh snaps another  as a cacophony of excitement envelopes the Bomber crowd. Surely this won’t last. Bombers by six points at quarter-time.

Crameri kicks a raking left footer to open the second term. Essendon play on at every opportunity and tackling in numbers. The Cats look uncharacteristically flat-footed. Welsh gets another to give them an eighteen point lead. The irresistible force of youth is taking on the immovable object of guile and experience. P. J. O’Rourke should write a book about this. It makes for enthralling viewing, especially when unexpected. Yet the Cats also have seven players who’ve played under twenty games.  Perhaps too much has been made of the dominance of the Cats’ old guard. Kelly gets one back for Geelong, their first in thirty minutes of footy.

Zaharakis, who’s been everywhere, goals again to restore a seventeen point lead. Scarlett gets his first kick of the match. Bomber and the Bombers have done their homework, but the plans are also being well-executed and this is making all the difference. Another goal by Jetta and the lead is 23  points, but Ling drills a badly needed one to keep the Cats within range.

Geelong are kicking to contests and making unforced errors.  When the inspired Ryder pulls one out of the ruck and throws it on his left foot, it floats through and the Cats have lost all momentum. A frustrated Josh Hunt gives away fifty and Howlett scores to give Essendon a 33 point buffer. Incredible. This was not in the script.

A beautiful goal from Duncan keeps the Cats alive. They are not ready to capitulate yet. Wojcinski scores, the Cats veterans, Scarlett, Chappy and Ling get into the game. Motlop  goals, the margin is back to twelve and suddenly the Dons look vulnerable. Gillies’ introduction invites the inevitable Ned Kelly comparisons. I think he looks more like Austin McCrabb. Chappy gets another, but Monfries steadies after great vision by Zaharakis again. This kid is gaining in stature. Reimers slams through another and momentum shifts again as Essendon lead by eighteen at the last change. This is a wonderful match. Every possession counts, with passion and recklessness at the contest.

Colyer scores the vital first goal for the Bombers as Docklands erupts. A boilover is a distinct reality now. However, the redoubtable Scarlett is running well and the evergreen Chappy scores and then sets up the previously unsighted Ottens to bring the margin back to ten. Hille, who is beating Taylor, gets one for Essendon after some desperate efforts from Davey and Crameri in the middle. Colyer again with a great snap keeps the game in Essendon’s favour. They have answered everything the Cats have thrown at them.

Yet Geelong has one last gallant surge.

Stokes gets one back, but Crameri seemingly kicks the sealer. The Cats need three in five minutes to pinch it.  Johnno kicks a goal while lying on his back through three Essendon defenders. The man is a freak! This is turning into one of the best games of the season. Duncan’s goal makes it four points the difference, but the irrepressible Melksham scores after a chain of handpasses from Colyer, Davey and Monfries.

Johnno again at the 34 minute mark. Is there anything this bloke can’t do?  Chappy soccers forward from the bounce but the siren produces scenes of wild jubilation from Essendon players and fans. Bomber’s Bombers got one over Geelong. Perhaps they caught them napping. You get the feeling that the Cats would beat Essendon convincingly in a final, but that’s the beauty of footy.  You just never know for certain.

Essendon            4.3      8.4    13.5    18.7 (115)
Geelong              3.3    5.7    9.12    16.15 (111)

Monfries 3, Colyer, Crameri, Welsh 2, Davey, Heppell, Hille, Howlett, Ryder, Jetta, Reimers, Zaharakis, Melksham
Geelong: Johnson 3, Duncan, Chapman, Christensen 2, Kelly, King, Motlop, Ottens, Stokes, Vardy, Wojcinski

Hocking, Melksham, Heppell, Ryder, Howlett, Monfries, Hurley, Hardingham
Geelong: Chapman, Enright, Ling, Bartel, Johnson, Kelly, Ottens

Welsh (hamstring), Colyer (ankle)
Geelong: Brown (shoulder)

Welsh replaced by Colyer during the second quarter
Geelong: Lonergan replaced by Gillies during the third quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Kennedy, Margetts, Jennings

Official crowd: 43,806 at Etihad Stadium























About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. Something wrong here. Almanac posting article about Cats defeat? Harms must be on his way to Brissie hols already. JB is clearly choosing the material.
    And heading it “2012 Season Rewind”??? The auguries or wishful thinking? All will be revealed in the fullness of time.

  2. PB, well sussed. JTH is on the road (though not quite in the Keruoac style).

    When the Cat’s away…

    As for 2012, you know Gigs has a unique take on numbers.

  3. Damo Balassone says

    LOL. I would like to see reports of Cats losses to Eagles and Swans in 2011 also put up. Maybe we could sneak in the 2010 Prelim and the 1953 Grand Final while we’re at it.

    Great article by the way, will never forget that goal by Stevie J whilst lying on his back.

  4. Richard Naco says

    I was at that game as supposedly my one live Cat’s game per annum in Victoria (I subsequently squeezed in a one day round trip to The Pivot to see the Gary Ablett Jnr No-Show). My son came down with a bug during the course of the day, so my wife stayed at the hotel with him & I went to the game without them (for the very first time since we got married 14 years ago).

    Surprisingly, although I would have far preferred to have witnessed a win, I actually enjoyed the whole experience. I thought that the Essendon game day compere was unusually welcoming to the visiting fans (by comparison, the nitwit who does a similar job in Sydney lost me forever when all he could do at one game was bitch about our mascot’s name), and I couldn’t believe that they let a kid in Geelong colours compete in a 3/4 time computer game (against an Essendon bedecked kid) & let the Catter win. The Bomber fans around me were incredibly polite during the course of the game, and despite my constantly pointing out that we were still top with a 13-1 record after the game, they basically apologised for beating us.

    They also, accurately as it turned out, predicted a Geelong premiership after the fire and fury of our almost dream like comeback late in the game.

    Later, while walking up to Swanston Street to catch a tram back up St Kilda Road, I fell in with a bunch of about half a dozen lads of about half my age (meaning they were in their mid 20s) in Bomber colours, who also were singing the praises of my losing team & ended up offering to take me out drinking as “the Cats are our second favourite team & their supporters are just the best”.

    So carp on all you like about producing reports of losses by the Cats in 2012. Your range of options is somewhat limited, and regardless of what you write here, we are still the ones who laughed last.

    (But I am now very fond of the North Geelong Football Club … oh, silly me: I meant Essendon, but I have visions of their coaching panel … and its extraordinarily polite supporters.)

    (PS: has anyone ever pointed out to the Swans that another definition of a “ciggie” is a “fag”? Which was, of course, the boy in a C19 British private school that got whipped continually by his betters.)

  5. Richard Naco says

    Sorry: one last point.

    The better team on the day deservedly won the game.

  6. Interesting experience for me personally. This was my first neutral Almanac report. Compared to my mostly myopic Collingwood stuff, I found that I actually followed the game more, devoid of the emotions that can often cloud ones judgment. I was lucky enough to get one of the best games of the season. This shows how subjective we can be when we see only what we want to see. JTH and Daff, thanks for taking me out of my comfort zone.

  7. Skip of Skipton says

    Richard, those Bomber fans were only being nice to you because they understood that Geelong were the only team likely of stopping Collingwood taking the flag. It’s all about pleasing the Football Gods.

  8. Thanks for taking me back Phil. What a night it was.

    That will be the game that folk refer to as Melksham’s Arrival

    Goooooood win

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