NAB Cup: Melbourne V Essendon

By Steve Healy

I was needed by the Melbourne Football Club. It easily surpassed the need for me to stay home ‘because it’s my sister’s birthday’. The Dees needed my support at Etihad. And footy was back. Four-quarter footy, two team footy. Strangely, it seemed to be a distant memory after the two weeks of that crap we all had to put up with.

I arrived at Docklands, wearing thongs, jeans, a striped shirt and my Dees’ scarf. The sun was shining, the weather was mild. The people outside looked cheerful in a Thursday-evening sort of way. But I was confused. No, a Mexican man named Harbhajan wasn’t force-feeding me 100-Yen worth of spaghetti; I just couldn’t find my friends who I had planned to meet up with outside Gate Five. And it was important for me to meet up with them, due to the fact that I can’t see them at school every day anymore. Soon enough, they appeared. I spotted James, aka Rate (Although by saying that I’m only mentioning his full name) pull out his phone to ring me. I don’t like to rate friends, but Rate is probably my closest. He supports Essendon. With him was Miles, a fellow Melbourne supporter, and Matt (Essendon), who also went to school with me. I’ve never been close to him and I hadn’t planned to see him there but he was a welcome addition.

We sat in the pocket next to the Essendon cheersquad. I was strangely confident that we would win this game. Jack Grimes came out and said that the Demons were looking to indulge themselves in NAB cup success. The ground was amazing. And this is Etihad Stadium I’m talking about. The turf looked lush, the roof was open and the air smelt fresh. The game got underway. I tried to avoid the vortex that people watching footy with friends sometimes get sucked into- You don’t pay enough attention to the game because you are too busy talking. But it helped that the conversation usually held the subject of: footy. The Bombers kicked the first two goals, to my angst. One from Dyson Heppell, a player who we were touting as a Dream Team must-have. I do love Dream Team, but I’m wise enough to treat it as just a small part in the football scheme of things.

Immediately, Jack Trengove took a screamer inside fifty and converted. The Dees added two more, one from the freakish, beautiful man that is Liam Jurrah. Things looked good, that is, until the Bombers kicked five unanswered, two of those literally on the goal line by Davey and Jetta, only brought upon by poor defending. If only Frawley could remarkably recover and replace Warnock, because Warnock’s general decision-making and use of disposal was explicit. Addam Maric, who played one game last year, charged through the middle of the ground, handpassed for a one-two and strode up to the arc to nail home a nine-pointer. It put a smile on my face and I began to sell Maric as “The most improved player of 2011”, which he may well be. It was a very exciting first quarter, but unfortunately we were 17 points down to the team Matthew Knights once called his own.

We turned on during the second quarter, but we just couldn’t outdo the Bombers. Watts kicked one, but he played a shocking game, as was highlighted by the tattooed Essendon supporter behind me: “You’re a hack, Watts”. “What a waste of a pick”. After he said that second one, I swore I saw a Jason Laycock-sized clump of ignorance behind me. I did feel like saying something to deter him away from saying such comments, but held back. He continued: “You should’ve chose Naitanui!” Oh really? Naitanui is such a star isn’t he?  We could sure use with his fumbling and one kick a game, as well as the hope that he may well do something amazing only to be sub-par 99% off the time.  Just as I was thinking such thoughts, Michael Hurley unloaded an ugly kick from inside the centre square that somehow escorted its way through the big sticks. The game slowed up a bit before the half time siren sounded. I avoided buying food.

As the sky darkened to a pitch black, Liam Jurrah weaved his way around and kept his cool before threading a goal from just inside fifty. “He took 24 steps!” Rate exclaimed. I told him that he just likes to take as many steps as his number before he kicks a goal. The Bombers added a couple to get the margin into dangerous territory but the Demons responded, again from Jurrah as he dribbled one through. The tattooed idiot was at work again beforehand when he sprayed an open shot on goal. The Essendon cheersquad stamping their feet and shouting when we kicked the ball into play was really getting under my skin. Especially when Green did it, and I responded “He’s only the best kick in the AFL!”  The three quarter time siren sounded and we were within 10 points.

I felt like we were a chance, but in reality, we were not. Spencer was subbed on and did the majority of the ruck work in the latter parts of the game, and as a result of this Ryder squeezed home an easy goal from a contest. I began to get foul with the umpires, although that isn’t really much use so late in the game when we aren’t a hope. To hide my disappointment, I reassured my friends that Tom Scully was worth however many points behind we were when I continuously said it. It had turned into a disaster, but a happier disaster. We lost by 39. James Hird got a standing ovation as he made his way down on to the bench. Oh well, there’s a whole season of hope ahead.

As the match finished, a rare phenomenon occurred- A guy, probably 19-20 years old, made his way on to the field in front of me, and teased the security guards. More fluro jackets appeared than Melbourne turnovers as the mid-strength beer fuelled violence commenced. I said goodbye to my friends and boarded the train.

I thought about life as I waited for the Alamein at Camberwell Station. I needed to piss. I was hungry. Hungry for the lasagna and birthday cake that would be left over in the fridge. Hungry for footy. Hungry for love.

Melbourne 1.3.1—1.6.3-1.10.5—1.11.7 (82)

Essendon 0.7.3—1.8.5—1.11.9—1.17.10 (121)

My Votes: 3. Alwyn Davey (ESS), 2. Jack Grimes (MELB), 1. B.Stanton (ESS) 

About Steve Healy

Steve Healy is an entity of a Melbourne supporter.


  1. Well done Steve.

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