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Finals Week 1: Sydney v Essendon: Of rainbows and fairytales


There couldn’t be many better ways to spend a Saturday than walking to the ground on the first weekend of finals with your team about to play. A game between two teams that were both written off early in the season. The Bombers had woken from their drug nightmare and had squeaked into the finals still holding the wooden spoon. The Swans had been on life support at nil and six but had been on a roll for months.


Crossing Anzac Parade, there were two women holding hands; one bedecked in Bombers gear and one in the Swans rainbow guernsey. I hoped the vote got up for them. And on the kerb, the word ‘Plugga’. It must have been scratched into the wet cement in the decades ago when Lockett was playing. The man who took us to a grand final after scoring a point after the siren against Essendon.


Sport can sometimes make you think that you live in a better world. It can make you believe in fairytales and heroes.


Sport still had its own brutality too. One team was going to win and stay in the hunt. The other would be left to think about next year.


The SCG was on display today. The sun was out and there were fans streaming in from all directions. The game was sold out and was to be the biggest AFL crowd ever played there. It made you forget the things that drove you crazy about the place; the planning that put the ground just that bit too far from the city; the transport and the ground officials. The swans flag was floating in the slight wind. Next to it a rainbow flag. And below the stillness, the nervousness and excitement of a really big game.


The first few minutes were inconsequential but a fine mark and goal by Daniher made you wonder. When Buddy went off half way through the first quarter, the crowd quietened. But soon it all came good and the swans rained goals upon an increasingly demoralised Essendon. The Bombers’ best were quiet and Sydney’s best were awesome. Buddy was unstoppable, Kennedy meticulous and the midfield played with skill and courage. Even Sinclair and Towers looked right at home. There wasn’t really a weak link and the game was over before the end of the first half.


As the shadows lengthened, the sky became a spinning colour wheel, the yellow, red, orange purple and blue backdrop to this wonderful stage. And then the siren.

I got brought back to earth a bit in a cab on the way home. The cabbie asked whether same sex couples had some psychiatric problem. But that was only the real world. In the footy world, Sydney were off to play Geelong. The fairytale continued.


SYDNEY           3.2    13.5   17.5    19.7 (121)
ESSENDON      1.3    3.4      5.8      8.8 (56)

Sydney: Franklin 4, Towers 3, Sinclair 3, Kennedy 2, Rohan 2, Heeney 2, Papley, Jack, Lloyd?Essendon: Daniher 3, Begley 2, Myers, Fantasia, Heppell
Sydney: Kennedy, Franklin, Sinclair,?Essendon: Daniher,
Sydney: Lance Franklin (corked thigh), Isaac Heeney (nose)?Essendon: Nil
Reports: Nil
Umpires: Hosking, Chamberlain, Meredith
Official crowd: 46,323 at the SCG


Read more of our Sydney v Essendon coverage here.

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