Round 18 – Essendon v Brisbane: Lions Treat Bombers as Mealworms as the Bride Twirls to Victory

It would be going too far to say that my wife and I had become disheartened by our AFL teams, but after 17 rounds our combined record sat at two wins, two byes and 30 losses.

We met prior to a Brisbane v Carlton match at the Gabba in 2010. Instantly, we found common ground – we both wanted Carlton to lose.

For her, it was an annual pilgrimage for the side of the family split between the navy Blues and old Fitzroy. For me, well, I’d travel to Reykjavik if Heimir Hallgrimsson could pull together a best 22 and isolate Zach Tuhoy.

A glorious evening ensued with the Jonathan Brown/Brendan Fevola combo leading the Lions to victory. We’ve always said that Fev brought us together. No one cheered more voraciously than us for his mealworm-led Renaissance.

Six years later and we have a one-year-old son who would rather lick the bottom of a bar stool than watch either of our footy teams. Whilst the Lions’ problems are of your typical footy variety – injuries, a coach under pressure, rumours of discontent – our issues started in the boardroom, moved onto the clinic across the road, popped into Sth Yarra and will soon be settled in Geneva after being straddled by jaunts to France and Mexico. Whatever the reasons though, our Foxtel remote has a worn down fast forward button.

The conditions this past Sunday were everything that night in Brisbane was not – there was a roofed stadium with not one tied test to its name, a temperature that condoned risk-taking and an outside wind that would blow away the most intimate secret. With the match minutes away, we wished each other good luck with a ‘we should catch up with them more often’ kind of sincerity and went our separate ways. For me, it was the Essendon members area with mum and dad on level one.  For her, it was level three with her mum and aunty. We’re not the Montagues and Capulets. We’re just a Melbourne family in July.

The separate seating was a wise move. It would have been shame for my tortured contortions to distract from her celebrating the Lions’ victory. Morgan Freeman’s character ‘Red’ was spot on – hope can drive a man insane.  A few valiant defeats and the blossoming of several youngsters had led to the Bombers being installed as favourites but that was as misplaced as the Fisher-Price building block I tripped over at 3am last week.

As Brisbane piled on the goals, I looked towards level three. I swear I was able to see her smiling. Her grin seemed to be as wide and as glowing as that of our wedding, though I don’t recall interpreting it as smug back then. Who knows though…from the five minute mark I was pulling my beanie over my eyes with a grip I normally reserve for a nappy change.

With the final bell ringing and the Bombers 37 points adrift, I bid mum and dad farewell and trudged to the exit. This was the tenth game I’d attended for the year so my trudging game is strong.

Once my leading foot hits the concourse, the wind – having travelled through the Docklands tunnels like a Pokemon hunter on a hoverboard – cut through me with the precision of Pearce Hanley’s boot. As I waited for my bride, I caught a glimpse of myself in the ticket sales window. I swear I saw a haggard version of the ghost of Essendon’s past, complete with a Sheeds-like crimson nose and ears looking very Hirdy-chic as they stuck out under my pulled-down beanie.

Then as I turned away from the window, there she was.

With the ashen concrete slabs morphing into the overcoats of the black and red support, her nitid blonde hair and maroon and blue scarf appeared as a technicolour island in the sea of the vanquished. She was just as I had met her years earlier – draped in a Lions scarf and celebrating victory. Despite my delicate feelings, I obviously still presented as being sound in body as my bride treated my 6ft3 frame as Gene Kelly would a lamppost and twirled away with a mighty cackle. After some dissection of the game with her fellow supporters, we walked away arm in arm. If only Daniel Rich had been held so closely.

With the combined household win total having increased by 50%, I made good on our pre-game bet to ‘organise’ dinner.  Given mealworms were not in ready supply, I prepared to get my trudge back on and made my way out for take-away. As I passed our son’s room before I exited, I thought of how we’ll tell him about Brisbane and Fev one day. He might like the story too. He might also ask why we love Fev when he played for Carlton and we hate Carlton.

Great question. We look forward to answering it. I just hope we’ll have a few more wins between us when we do.


About Andrew Else

Andrew has self-reported to this site as a lifetime Essendon supporter. He also played local footy for Lara and Melbourne Uni Blacks.


  1. Andrew- A ripper.

    No, you’re not the Montagues and Capulets. AFL is far more serious than a trifling Shakespeare melodrama! Some fantastic lines in this- “my bride treated my 6ft3 frame as Gene Kelly would a lamppost and twirled away with a mighty cackle.” among the picks.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Does anyone ever trudge in summer (apart from opening batsmen)?

    Is there anything sharper than a kid’s building block (why are they sharper in the dark?)

    I had to look up nitid.

    Bewdy Andrew.

  3. Terrific stuff Andrew. Good to see you haven’t lost your sense of humour and way with words over the Bombers travails of recent years. Turning up for 10 games this year is worth a Distinguished Flying Cross. I can barely manage to watch the dross my Eagles are serving up this season and they are at least winning more than they are losing (dunno how).

  4. Andrew Else says

    Thanks gents

    PB, humour is mandatory this year. Your Eagles will be fine. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Swish…. So sharp.

    Mickey…Serious indeed. Talk about a pound of flesh

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