Imagine: a world without Essendon

There is too much hate in this world. Too much of the violence and discrimination that it fosters. Too much that is passed on from generation to generation, in hate’s seemingly endless cycle.

Without wishing to sound evangelical, it is contingent on all humanity to reduce this hate. I’m sufficiently realistic to know that we will never eradicate it, but we should aspire to at least reduce it. This is a central tenet to how we can build a better society for us all.

In Australia, much of this hate is (rightly) directed at the Essendon Football Club. In the 2012 Footy Almanac, I recalled a (woefully incomplete) list I had received that year of “45 Reasons to Hate Essendon.” I was not alone in such references in that esteemed publication (well done, Tony Reed), nor on the Almanac website (kudos to Josh Barnstable). Plus a quick Google search this week on the term “hate Essendon” yielded some other fine sentiments contributed by various footy fans over the years. “I hate Essendon and everything they stand for,” wrote one. “I hate Essendon more than I hate paying taxes” declared another. All perfectly reasonable sentiments, founded in solid fact.

Which brings me to the events of this week. The Essendon steroids scandal presents a rare opportunity. An opportunity to make massive in-roads into the hate that resides in our community, by getting rid of Essendon.

Putting aside the whole ‘presumption of innocence until proven guilty’ stuff that lawyers rabbit on about, let’s make the assumption that everyone associated with Essendon is guilty as sin (it’s not that bit a stretch after all). What can we then do about that?

Some bloggers have proposed destroying the suburb of Essendon and/or the colours black and red. One idea was that “everyone who has ever worn the red sash of evil should be banned for life” (I’m not sure if that related to the events of this week, or was just a general sentiment that could’ve been authored any time in the last century). These are all fine ideas.

Unfortunately, I suspect the AFL will let this rare opportunity go begging. Based on their track record of putting revenue ahead of quaint concepts like fairness, you’d have to imagine that the AFL (having not been able to cover up this one) currently has an army of people hard at work trying to find an excuse or loophole that will allow them to slap Essendon with nothing more than a wet lettuce leaf.

The AFL would be thinking that they need to keep an 18-team, 22-week competition in place to get their money under the broadcasting agreement. Not only that, but they’ve already scheduled Essendon in a stack of block-busters. If they kept the club but suspended the players (leaving Essendon to play with 6 men or to backfill their side with VFL players for the year), they’d be worried about having a Suns or Giants-strength team running around in prime-time. And Goddard is no Ablett.

This is where we, the football fans, must speak up, and come to the fore. Appealing to their commercial nature, we need to reassure the AFL, broadcasters and sponsors that we will indeed turn up (at the turnstile or at the tv remote control) week-in, week-out… to watch Essendon get flogged.

And we would. It’d be great entertainment. Educational too. I would take my son, so that he got the “cheats never prosper” message. At the end of the year, we would buy official merchandise commemorating their winless season. It could actually be quite lucrative.

For 2013, this is perhaps the best that can be done. But our sport should still think bigger, and really take the boot to hate.

Let’s kick Essendon back to the VFL. Maybe they could be North Melbourne’s seconds, just to make amends for pinching North’s spot in the big league in 1897.

Meanwhile Tassie or Darwin could take their place in the AFL. Or Foxtel Cup champions Claremont, if it’s quicker to do it with an established club. The AFL still suffers from a geographical imbalance anyway, and what better way to solve that than by kicking out a club that is both a cheat and an object of hate.

Families would flock to the AFL, revelling in its new healthy spirit. Soon enough no-one would miss them.

A world without Essendon. Hate could dissipate, and society could commence its healing, if the AFL can just do the right thing.



  1. Colin Ritchie says

    This is too much for me, I didn’t realise people felt this way about the mighty Bombers! I thought these type of sentiments were reserved for Collingwood!

  2. Matt Zurbo says

    Brad, a corker piece!!!!! Ripper start to my day.

  3. Red – the blood of angry men!
    Black – the dark of ages past!
    Red – a world about to dawn!
    Black – the Bombers gone at last!

  4. Jeff Dowsing says

    I’d rather a world without Carlton, and I really had my hopes up about 8 years ago.

  5. Andrew Else says

    I did appreciate this yarn Brad but I’m sorry, it wouldn’t be that easy. Even if we weren’t around, we’d still be around.

    I wore the scarf to work yesterday and got some good feedback on the tram. I’ve got a weird feeling that we actually needed this.

  6. Essendon FC physically blockaded Windy Hill carpark a few weeks back in order to prevent young cricketers and their parents parking there during a Dowling Shield game. They wanted to make sure that their players didn’t have to walk too far when they came to practice (and whatever else it took) at 11am. This during the cricket season when ECC has tenure and ECC had informed EFC that the game would be happening. The Footy club lost a lot of sympathy that day. Look at it as a massive karmic kick in the arse for their arrogance and hubris.

  7. In Stendhal’s classic The Red and the Black a young man tries to rise up the (social) ladder with “a combination of talent and hard work, deception and hypocrisy” (Wikipedia). Then it’s tears before bedtime I’m afraid.

    Wonder if anyone at Windy Hill has read the book?

  8. Hmmm, imagine a world without Essendon?????? Sunny, pies tasting as good as Lobster thermador and long faces all around Windy Hill. Heck, I like it.

  9. My son, who’s footballing affections were insidiously poached by my Bomber-loving sister, would come back to the fold. I would then hope for his sake that the Weapon was completely above board when at the Cats.

  10. Jeff Dowsing says

    I’m also imagining a crazy world where a drug offence lands the 2012 Brownlow in Swannie’s lap. It would certainly rock Caro’s world!

    It ain’t gonna happen (I don’t think), but it would be ironic.

  11. ……………meanwhile, the Tiger grows stronger.

  12. As a Hawthorn fan, to hate is to love. I hate Essendon with such a passion that it took 25 years – and 5 more hawks flags – to finally watch the last quarter of the 1984 Grand Final (bloody Baker). But there is no better game to go to than a Hawks v Bombers clash. There is emotion, history, feeling and passion in these games.

    How far back the hatred goes I’m not sure (possibly May 17 1879 when Essendon became the first senior club to kick 10 goals in a game against a hapless Hawthorn – my hatred precedes my existence by quite some time). Some say it was a poor piece of play that ended Garry Young’s career. Don Scott v Crackers Keenan, Ron Andrews whacking Lethal, Kevin Ablett collecting Tim Watson, Dipper meeting Stoneham (or Walsh), Merrett the Hitman, Robertson and Watson, Sheedy v Jeans, sniffing Eucalyptus, Brereton strutting around, Lloyd whacking Thurgood and Sewell, Campbell Brown, a line in the sand, a point post hit by Croad, a rushed behind paid as a goal costing a game, Buddy kicking goal of the year twice in 5 minutes. It ruined Goldspink’s standing as an umpire by the Brown and Gold faith.

    There is no such thing as a Hawthorn v Essendon game that doesn’t matter. It is the first fixture circled each year. It is a reason to live.

    To have bad things happen to Essendon proves that good will triumph over evil. Carlton and Collingwood are despised but Essendon are the type of evil that belong in a Hannibal Lecter restraint.

    But evil cannot be allowed to die. What is ‘good’ to triumph over if there is not evil at hand to be vanquished? A win against Fremantle is hollow, a victory over Port Adelaide has no meaning, a game against GWS is a wasted weekend, beating Brisbane produces no sense of satisfaction. Would Dermott ever burn a North Melbourne flag? To beat Essendon creates an aura of well-being, that all is at peace in the universe, thoughts of kittens and rainbows, of tranquility and contentment. The cure to the common cold will emanate out of a Hawthorn win some day.

    Essendon must be hated to be understood, but it must also exist to create the realisation of what good is. I hate Essendon but love that they exist. Simon Madden is the greatest ruckman I have ever seen. I wished Terry Daniher would have played for Hawthorn, I wondered whatever became of Anton Grbac after he kicked 3 goals in a Stirling Cup game.

    To hate is to love and I hate Essendon.

  13. I have been an Essendon member for 20 years. WE deserve everything we get. I am shattered. I want to cancel my membership. This is harder than the ’99 prelim.

  14. Ripped Off

    I hope the Bombers got their money back – very little evidence of performance-enhancement. Maybe they were in the placebo group?
    As much as I hate Essendon, no pantomime would be the same without the villain to hiss at.


  15. Hi , come on Essendon supports , let us behind them , they need our support . We have a good coach , assitant too and a great club . Like l ask you all let stick behind the great Essendon . they need our help .

  16. We DID have a great club,George. I look back on those days fondly. But as of last Monday, our club can no longer be considered great., and i cannot support such a corrupt and dysfunctional regime.

    I am imagining a world without Essendon, and it is very very bleak, but I can’t force myself to feign support for something i no longer believe in.

  17. Madeleine says

    That is complete bullocks. I’ve never heard so much rubbish in my life. There is no truth in that report whatsoever. Essendon is a fantastic club and we’ve done nothing wrong. This whole drug scandal has just given every other non-essendon supporter a stupid little reason for hating them. There is so little evidence to support this scandal, so really you have no idea what you’re talking about. Maybe you should just take a good hard look at yourself and think about what’s the truth and what’s not. You’re just showing utter ignorance. This isn’t real reporting at all.

  18. Gee Madelaine, I hope you’re OK. I should just explain that you’re unlikely to get balanced reporting on this site.* But you will get entertaining reading. And your comment adds to the tradition beautifully.

    *Although, on second thoughts, it may be more balanced than other reporting.

  19. Peter_B says

    Have you been cleaning out the overdate stock in the Sports Science Department at Bomberland? How did your boys get so big so quick? Cornflakes and chicken soup?

  20. Surely the weapon had alot of effects’ during Geelongs success of recent years too. Im sure all the clubs find there ways to cheat and lie along with the plays. It happens in business everyday and the Afl is big business. You clowns should be more worried about AFL being rigged. Footy teams don’t come and go off the form radar! With all the millions of game changing umpire decisions week in week out! And betting odds constantly on screen it’s not real footy at all. A forward can’t even bag a tonne.

  21. The greatest team ever! Jobe should lose Brownlow. I hope the AFL doesn’t go soft ,but they will because of money. Other players in earlier times would have been on something. Since a salary cap they have’nt won too many flags. RULES. Dont think your better than anyone else.I barrack for anyone that plays against Scumdon.Two flags were round robin , no grand final……….

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