Essendon fan gets the same old feeling

by Rod Oaten

I guess it started some 15 years ago as a Da/Father/Son day

but Da gave up about 5 years ago due to age, he is now over 92, and

stays in his aged care facility in Northcote and listens on the radio.

Family days at the footy have always been important to us, I

remember going as a young lad in the late 1940s all dressed up in my

hand made Essendon footy gear to The Don’s home ground, (wasn’t called

Windy Hill then) and all the other suburban grounds with the extended


The Dons have always been a great part of our family,

apparently great grandfather was always up at the cricket or football

clubs according to family history, Nana and Da never missed a match,

Mum used to play tennis for Essendon Tennis Club on the courts behind

the grandstand with Dick Reynolds fiancee and after their match would

watch games and when Dad met Mum he very soon threw his total support

for the Dons. Mum was so one-eyed that she never had a soft spot for

any other team, so if people asked if she had a second team she would

say “Essendon seconds”

OK what’s got with today’s match, I guess not a lot but

reminiscing sure bring back great memories. And now for the dark side

my son barracks for Collingwood. He says it has nothing to do with my

fathering when he was younger but rather his primary school friends who

barracked for the Magpies, and nothing that I tried worked, and some 30

years later nothing has changed. So we meet up outside the ground , get

our seats and adjourn to the Percy Beams bar for a pre-game discussion

and a calming ale. I’m hoping for a close match not a blow out like

last year and son is quietly confident of a good win for the Pies.

The Dons are underdogs and the way the game is going I

thought the experts were on the money, Collingwood 2 goals in as many

minutes and David Hille off with a busted knee. Into the ruck goes

loose-limbed, gangly Paddy Ryder and things start to happen but we

couldn’t buy a goal and it wasn’t until Winderlich got one that we were

in the contest, still at quarter time the score was Collingwood 4.2 to

the Dons 1.5. From quarter time the game tightened up and great play

from McPhee, Fletcher and Courtney Dempsey (there’s a player with a

future) kept us in the game so at the big break it was scores level and

time for another cleansing ale. Too tight to call we both decide.

Third quarter, and a new hero has emerged, Paddy Ryder. He

rucks tirelessly, winning tap outs, chasing, tackling and moving the

ball continually forward. Not a lot in it at three quarter time but Paddy

looks absolutely stuffed, how can he possibly get through the last 30


We’re off for the last quarter, but Paddy

gets the ball forward again and after a scramble picks the ball up at

centre half forward and bangs through a very handy goal for the Dons,

but Collingwood have a few ideas of their own and score a couple of

quick goals and at this late stage of proceedings things look bleak for

the Dons. The rain starts and Rocca has a brain surge and give Fletcher

fifty, off to Andrew Lovett who lifts the G with an inspiring run to

get it to Jetta who goals. A minute later a bad kick in from the

Collingwood back line lands it out on the full and Ricky Dyson kicks

magnificently. Less than a goal in it, less than a minute to play. Ball

up, Paddy gets another punch forward to David Zaharakis (try saying

that quickly) who backs himself from about 50 metres out and drills the

goal. Pandemonium, the Dons are in front, I think I hear “Oh no” from


Siren, the noise, the exploding thunder made by

tens of thousands of Don fans. The Essendon players jubilantly leap into

each other arms, I give my son a super-sized bonding hug, no guessing

who was pumped. I couldn’t hear a thing and the old eyes were a bit

misty too, but I guessed Paddy Ryder won the Anzac Medal as he left the

Essendon group and sort of jogged to the presentation stage to get the


Best for Essendon, every player on the senior and

supplementary list, the coaching staff, the medicos, the cleaners at

Windy Hill, the committee, the office staff, the doormen and the girl

that answers the phone when you ring the footy club up.

Leave a Comment