On borrowed time

By Ged McMahon

Housesitting can be an odd experience. While it can be fun, there always seems to be a voice in your head telling you not to make yourself too comfortable––you don’t belong here. On Friday I started housesitting. The place is huge. The shower is about the size of my entire bathroom. On Sunday my Bombers played Sydney’s Swans. It had been an odd week as an Essendon supporter. We too were occupying a space not known to be ours in recent years. We sat on top of the AFL ladder.

But after years of mediocrity as a Bombers fan and years of housesharing I decided to embrace my new positions. The Bombers would win and I would make myself at home in this house that wasn’t mine.  I cracked a beer––but rested it on a coaster of course––and settled into the couch for my first proper look at the 2011 Bombers.

Channel 7’s Footy Flashbacks seem keen to remind me of when the Bombers were more used to the higher rungs of the ladder. They screen our 2001 Round 19 clash against the Swans. We are the reigning Premiers and are headed towards a Grand Final berth. Steve Alessio kicks a goal with only seconds remaining. We win by two points. But this is a long time ago. Coaches wear a suit and tie, goal umpires wear panama hats, player’s arms are tattoo free and the Docklands surface resembles the clay courts of Roland Garros.

The 2011 game telecast starts. Commentators are quick to point out that we’ve only won 4 of our last 31 interstate games. A lot has happened to Essendon in the 10 years since that flashback.

The Bombers start slow. Sydney dominates early play. After 6 minutes we still haven’t been inside 50. But eventually we make ourselves at home. We kick a few and we hit the lead. I crack another beer and dare my Essendon socked feet onto the coffee table. I could get used to this.

I’d heard all the hype about Heppell. And he delivers early. He’s silky and looks comfortable at this level. My old, woollen, Nubrik sponsored, number 21 Dean Wallis jumper gains currency––apologies to Courtney Johns and Hayden Skipworth.

Hurley also looks good as the game continues into the second quarter. He’s thriving up forward rather than competently plugging holes in defence like he had to last year. Despite his influence, Sydney work their way back into the game. And early in the third quarter they wrestle the lead back off us.

The Bombers rally. There’s a lot to like about our new look. Crameri snaps a ripping goal and Paddy Ryder is showing his class, seemingly playing in his own time zone. Speaking of time differences, I have an aberration at this point. The telecast is delayed so I’d decided to avoid my phone, Facebook and Twitter for the duration. Part way through the third quarter I sneak onto my laptop just for some Supercoach updates. I accidently see the live score. Sydney lead by 5 points at some unknown time in the fourth quarter. I quickly shut down the laptop. My feet come off the coffee table.

The Swans hit the lead again at the start of the final quarter. It’s a see-sawing contest by all definition. Hird sits calmly in the coach’s box. He looks like a guy waiting outside the Sportsgirl fitting rooms while his girlfriend tries on clothes. He’s keeping a cool exterior, but inside he’s not happy at all.

The Bombers take the lead again courtesy of Hurley. Lovett-Murray removes the embarrassing fluoro green substitute vest and injects fresh legs into the contest. The final minutes are frantic. Opportunities come and go. Neither team seems to fully grasp any of them. This is going down to the wire. The Swans hold on and the score I accidently spotted on the internet over half an hour ago is the score that remains when the final siren sounds.

Self consciously I start tidying the house. I knew I didn’t belong here. But I’ll enjoy this next month of housesitting while it lasts. And I’ll live in hope that this new crop of Bombers become capable of making us belong at the top before too long.

About Ged McMahon

Ged McMahon has been a Bombers fan for as long as he can remember. With a Grandpa who grew up just a spiralling torpedo punt from Windy Hill he didn't have much choice. When his junior football career resulted in almost as many possessions as games he eventually had to bite the bullet and give up his dream of captaining the Bombers to a Premiership. So his weekly footy fix became confined to the stands. He yearns for the next Premiership.


  1. Sal McMahon says

    Loved this one. Clever title. Good blend of footy and personal stuff.

  2. John Butler says

    I would second that Jed.

    Though I can’t share your Bomber enthusiasms. :)

  3. greg mcmahon says

    might have to adopt the hirdy sportsgirl anology, plenty of experience with both. Nice work ged. 2001, was that when zones were just places u couldnt get into post match?

  4. The only zones in 2001 were the ones on your train ticket.

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