Essendon v Buddy Franklin

I was a bit confused with Essendon playing Hawthorn again. It only seemed a few weeks ago that we fronted up to them, and in fact it was, it was only about 6 weeks ago.  And six weeks ago we gave them a bit of a hiding and that gave me hope after the thrashing Collingwood gave us the week before.

I’m not a great lover of  football after dark especially in Winter, but as I was meeting the partner in the city earlier on, I thought I might give night footy another go. Catching the tram to the “G” is always an interesting study on human behaviour, the passengers were a good mix of Don supporters and Hawk followers. Lots of good hearted comments, lots of optimism on both sides and lots of mobile conversation arranging where to meet at the ground and apologising for being late.  I made it into the ground and to my seat as the umpires got the game going.  I was rapt to see Leroy Jetta playing in long sleeves, the only player to do so.  Once upon a time it was very unusual to see players wearing jumpers without sleeves. Back in the golden days of the Dons in the 50s I have photographs of the Essendon team and the only blokes showing off their arm muscles were Chooka May and Doug Bigelow. Of course in recent times the great James Hird carried on this great tradition with courage and brilliant skill.

The first quarter showed how dominant the Hawks were, it was only Essendon’s  straight kicking that kept them in the game so when the siren went for quarter time Hawthorn were up by 18 but I reckon it should have been more. Physically they appeared bigger and stronger and seemed to be able to brush Essendon’s forward thrusts aside.  The second quarter started and the dominance of Hawthorn in the centre continued, Cyril  Rioli was unstoppable, Buddy Franklin was all over the ground picking up kicks  as were most of his team mates and it was left to Paddy Ryder and Alwyn Davey to produce a couple of badly needed goals for the Dons. Half time Hawthorn by 21 points and looking the goods.

The Hawks got the first goal of the 3rd quarter but the the Essendon machine started to get going and running the ball much more efficiently scored the next few goals. Davey was magnificent, tackling , harassing and kicking much needed goals and I felt that the Dons had a chance. At three quarter time there was only a goal in it.  I’m always fascinated to watch the team huddle at three quarter time. Out come about a dozen specialist coaches all given instructions, waving their arms, pointing and getting properly wound up, then the coach  takes over  and addresses the team complete with white board. He also points, implores, pleads and suggest tactics, fair dinkum, if I was a player I reckon I would be so confused by all the info, I’d probably kick the ball the wrong way.

So the last quarter starts, Paddy Ryder kicks an amazing goals from a ruck contest and then the Buddy Franklin show commences. He gathers the slippery ball on the half forward line with ease , runs away from a desperately hard chasing Essendon  defender bounces the ball three time and kicks a fifty metre goal. Essendon reply with a couple of goals but then Buddy does it again. Once again picking up the bouncing ball, sprinting away from another desperately chasing Essendon defender, bouncing it three times and driving through another unbelievable goal. Even I clapped and gave bit of a cheer. It was probably one of the most amazing goals I have ever, or will  ever see again. It put Hawthorn in front again and two late goals by them sealed the game.

Hawthorn by 16 points , and looking back on the game , as much as I hate to say it, I think it was a fair result.  Without doubt the star of the game was Buddy Franklin. Essendon was well served by Paddy Ryder, Alwyn Davey, Jason Winderlick, Jobe Watson, Brent Prismall and I reckon if Leroy Jetta had not changed his jumper to short sleeves at quarter time, he would have held that mark in the last quarter and goaled,  and I would have included him too.

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