NAB Cup: Essendon v Brisbane v St Kilda

Spraying the colour into my hair, I studied it in the mirror. It looked pretty good. My hair was now a lush green colour.

It was the 2011 Numurkah Secondary College Swimming Sports Carnival at the local pool. My house, Gray, which is actually green house, was vying to against the three other houses, Christie (yellow), Hunkin (red) and Tweddle (blue). I had stocked up on two cans of green hair spray for fellow schoolmates in Gray, and was applying a bit to myself before I left for the bus.

I thought the spray may have been my undoing though. When I got to the pool, I was handed two headbands to wear by a teacher in Gray. I put them around my head, they were small, or my head was just big, I thought. They stretched quite a lot though, and stuck around my head nicely. The sun was starting to come out though, it felt like 30 degrees with the reflection off the water, and I had a drilling headache. I’m not one to get migraines or anything like that, but this was killing me. My eyes felt like they were bulging out of my face, and I couldn’t see straight. I spread out on my towel and tried to bury my head in my arms, thinking it was the combination of the sun and the excessive hair spray. That didn’t work though, it was just getting worse. I decided to go into the toilets and have a quick shower to wash the spray out of my face and eyes. Even after that, I felt like I was ready to pass out. Brushing my hand through my hair to keep it out of my stinging eyes, I felt the two headbands. They were deeply pressing into my skull. I ripped them off, trying not to pull any of my curls out at the same time. The pain went flooding away, my vision was corrected and the sun didn’t feel too bad anymore. I had been cutting the circulation off to my head for at least an hour. No wonder I felt like passing out. I went on celebrating the day, only for Gray house to come third, but we did win the House Spirit Award, which was basically a ‘thanks for trying’ award.

Back home, I felt tired. I sure could’ve used a nap, but we were going out for tea to celebrate my Dad’s birthday, which is on Sunday. I washed the rest of the green hair spray out of my hair, and dressed up in some of the best clothes I could find.

Mum and I met up with my brother and sister outside the Shamrock Hotel in Numurkah. We had a $140 voucher, and I was hungry. I wondered if the others would’ve brought money to buy their own food. I decided to go with the seafood basket in the end though. Dad turned up after finishing work, and it was about 7:30. An hour until the footy starts on channel 7. Not another race against time! Luckily, the food was quite quick to come out, about a 20 minute wait between garlic bread and the main meals. Everyone was complaining about their food, it was either too burnt, not cooked enough or it was completely different to what they ordered. Mine was fantastic though, so no complaints from me. Dad and I left at 8:20, with just enough time to make it back for the start of the triple header at Etihad Stadium between Essendon, St Kilda and the Brisbane Lions.

The former and latter were up first, with James Hird and Michael Voss going head to head for the first time from the coaches box. Brisbane’s jumper looked good with the Queensland logo on the front, while Essendon’s sash was straight, and not curved. It didn’t look too great. But on the field, they were magnificent. Stewart Crameri took a strong gutsy mark running into James Hawksley. He converted, then Mark McVeigh kicked the second from a free kick. Crameri bobbed up again, snapping an unconventional looking goal from the forward pocket, before David Zaharakis had put Essendon 24 points up just seconds later with a quick clearance going the Bombers’ way. Brent Stanton put another nail in the Lions’ coffin, kicking a Supergoal from a terrible Brisbane turnover in the midfield. Michael Hurley then found himself at the back of a pack to boot Essendon’s sixth goal, and give them a 38 point lead going into the first break. That was a phenomenal lead in the shortened quarters. Hirdy must’ve been thinking “How easy is this!”

From the restart, Crameri kicked number three after Nathan Lovett-Murray and McVeigh linked up beautifully through the midfield, then Hurley found himself with two bites at the cherry when his handball to an unopposed Essendon player in the goalsquare was smothered. It felt straight back into his lap though, and he put it through. Essendon were zipping all over the ground, they looked far from the wooden spoon contenders that was expected to show up. The Lions were hardly touching the ball, although one exception was Jared Polec, who was terrific. Stanton extended the huge lead to 56 points, before Polec showed why he was pick five in the National Draft, receiving a handball from a teammate, then ducking and weaving out of heavy traffic to kick a sensational goal. It was back up Essendon’s end though, with Zaharakis kicking his second on the run after the two Aboriginal speedsters Alwyn Davey and Leroy Jetta combined well in the midfield. Hurley then kicked his third, before Tom Rockliff, another rising Lion star curled through a classy goal from 40m out. The Etihad Stadium siren put Brisbane out of their misery, for now anyway, with Essendon winning convincingly by 62 points, to

Brisbane v St Kilda

The 2010 Grand Final runner up were out on the field to recommence the embarrassment of the Brisbane Lions. It started fairly quickly, with Brett Peake kicking from long range for nine points, then Alastair Smith was rewarded with a 50m penalty after a late hit from a very angry-looking Joel Patfull. He kicked the goal, then Tom Lynch grubbered through the Saints third. Michael Voss was pulling the hair out of his head, much like I was today, as St Kilda led by 21 at the first break.

Todd Banfield showed some fight for the Lions with two classy goals to start the second half, and the margin was back to nine points. The Lions didn’t look like they had anyone capable of kicking a Supergoal though. Then the surprise recruit from Geelong stood up for the Saints. Ryan Gamble, a talented forward who couldn’t find a spot in a star-studded Cat forward line, bobbed up to kick three goals in just a tick under two minutes, killing the contest immediately. The Lions trudged off the field, looking battle weary and beaten. Get used to it Brisbane fans.

Essendon v St Kilda

The main course of the night began, and much like last week, I was praying for a quick match so I could go to bed. I was so tired. St Kilda looked to have all the running, despite Crameri booting his fourth of the night after some great end-to-end footy. Gamble did the same for the Saints after outmarking Jay Neagle. One feels for him. Ledger snapped a good goal out of a congestion, before Brendon Goddard took a big mark in defence, which led to a Stephen Milne goal. It was feeling like the Grand Final again. Some Johnson guy for the Saints won a two-on-one contest in the goalsquare to soccer it off the ground, then Milne found himself front and centre and giving St Kilda a 22 point lead at half time.

To Essendon’s credit though, they didn’t give up. Angus Monfries wrong-footed a St Kilda defender and drilled the goal, before Jake Carlisle calmly slotted his first from the boundary line after another shocking free kick from the ‘last touched’ rule. Then it was the new Essendon hero’s, who broke through a huge pack of players to thump through goal number five. Crameri was looking very bustling indeed. St Kilda won the ball back, and extended the lead back to seven points through Leigh Montagna though, and the game looked gone. Stanton was given a free kick just outside 50, and went for nine points. To give Essendon the win, he just missed. Six points the margin. St Kilda had the ball in the forward line with 20 seconds remaining. Essendon gathered possession, and quickly got the ball forward. Stanton again was involved; he almost spilled the ball with only five seconds to go, 70 metres out from goal. He centered the ball, Mark Williams was on his own, but he Saints players coming from each direction. Crunch! But he took the mark. The siren sounded, the crowd was up in arms. Williams was just outside 50, shooting for six points. He wasted no time, and kicked long, and straight. Magnificent kick, and it was a draw. Perhaps the best game you’ll see in the NAB Cup this year.

Maybe Essendon and James Hird won’t be too bad after all…

About Josh Barnstable

21 year old North Melbourne supporter from country Victoria. Currently living in Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Sports Media. Dreams of becoming a sports journalist and broadcaster.


  1. Great article, Josh.

    Gee I feared for your life as I read that first bit! I think Polec is a good chance to be the rising star. The funny thing was, I watched the end already knowing it was a draw, and when I saw Mark Williams had the ball in the centre with under 10 seconds to go I thought how the hell does he mark it inside 50 and kick the winning goal!

    See you in Geelong

  2. Yeah i had the result spoilt in the end by Facebook haha, I was surprised to know that they would draw level with 5 seconds to go when Stanton had the ball fumbling at half forward not even facing the goals.

    See you tomorrow.

  3. lol funny stuff Josh. Future note- the first instance your head feels sore get the head band off!
    I see the house spirit award doesn’t mean as much to your school as it did to mine.
    To win that award you had to have your cheer squad (which mostly consisted of year 7-8, lead by seniors such as myself) up and making some noise for majority of the carnival. At many points it would get very competitive as megaphones/loudspeakers were stolen from one house team by another.
    I myself can be found in many year books leading my house cheer squad and we won that award a few times in a row :)

    -Hope you and the crew have a great time :)

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