Dons improving, but Cats too good.


There wouldn’t be too many people who could imagine what the name of George Goninon could mean to our family. Up until he came to Essendon in 1948, Geelong was the only club that we thought was “different ” in the VFL. We had absolutely no love for any of the other Melbourne clubs but somehow Geelong seemed a little different until the” George Goninon affair”.  George arrived at Essendon in 1948 as a young forward from Tasmania and at that stage The Dons were looking for someone to kick a bag of goals each game. However his promising career was abruptly cut short by the arrival of a kid from  Hastings(Vic) called John Coleman in1949. John hadn’t really set the world on fire in practice matches with the Dons in 1947 and 1948, but 1949 would be very different.

In 1949 John Coleman set the football world on fire kicking 12 goals in his first match and continuing to completely demoralise opposition backlines throughout the year.  George could see his chances at Essendon looked bleak indeed and asked for a clearance to Geelong after being the leading goal kicker for the Don’s seconds in1949. Now we didn’t mind  Essendon players

being cleared to the VFA, Interstate or some suburban or country club but not to another VFL club.  When I suggested to mum that he wasn’t going to get many games in the firsts with Coleman in the side, she said “and whats wrong with playing for Essendon Seconds”  From then on Essendon v Geelong had more feeling, especially with George up the other end kicking goals for Geelong.

But back to the opening round of the AFL, has Geelong slipped ? Has Essendon improved? It’s a great night for footy at the “G” although the crowd a little down on what I thought it would be. Both sides started at a frantic pace, both sides missed hand passes  both sides lacked  precision.  David Hille cleaned up Corey Enright with a fair bump and I suspect for a short time Enright may have considered a career in a less demanding sport like Croquet  may be an option. Pressure from tackling and chasing caused turn overs, even Gary Ablett  was so worried by  Alwyn Davey that he kicked it out of bounds on the full. Is that a first?  Essendon had a little bit of Indigenous magic when Paddy Ryder and Alwyn Davey combined for a goal in the second quarter but the forward set up of Neagle and Gumbleton for the Dons needs a lot of fine tuning.  Essendon were right in the game and  goals  from interceptions  and attach on the ball meant at the long break scores were pretty even, after goals to Jimmy Bartel and Joel Selwood  just before the siren

Essendon started the third term on fire and kicked four quick goals but on the verge of the fifth Jay Neagle had a brain surge , played on after a mark, got caught and before you could blink, James Kelly had kicked a goal. Two more followed for the the Cats and at three quarter time there was only a goal in it. I had the dreaded feeling things could go pear shaped in the last quarter. The Geelong forward line has a bloke called Johnson who kicks goals over his shoulder through his legs whilst running backwards and is always frightening for us Don’s supporters.  Geelong were threatening to demolish the Dons in the last quarter and Geelong players like Mooney and Hawkins who had done very little jumped on the Geelong train for the free ride for the last 30 minutes.     Thankfully late hard earned goals from Zaharakis and Monfries put respectability back on the Don’s scoreboard, but in the end , Geelong were just a bit too good on the night.  I couldn’t question the commitment of all the Don players, they played their hearts out.  Well done to everyone.

Essendon has improved, this time last year Geelong thrashed us by about 90 points so I feel positive about the season.  GO DONS


  1. How did George fare at the Cats Rod?

  2. Pamela Sherpa says

    Rod, as you know, my dad played for Essendon seconds in 1950. Hometown friends used to love joking ‘He wasn’t good enough to nudge out a bloke called Coleman for a spot in the side’

    As for Friday night – what stood out to me were the number of short passes and the speed of the game in the first half. Hope a few long kicks get thrown into the game plan. We badly need Hurley back in the team to help fill the hole Lloyd has left. Our young side will improve and I have no problem with Jay Neagle backing himself and playing on. I’d rather that than a dithering player afraid of having a go.

  3. George did very well for Geelong and played well against the Dons. I think he played about 6 seasons with Geelong and was their leading goal kicker for those years. Rod

  4. Stab Punt Jim says

    If you want to see more about Gearge Goninon see “Almanac History: George Goninon and the “punt drop” kick compiled by myself. I have spoken to George by phone and I am very impressed by him.
    Stab Punt Jim

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