Round 1, 2020 – Essendon v Fremantle: Casual Shifts, Full Time Scores




Essendon versus Fremantle
Saturday 21 March, 2o20
Docklands, Melbourne
by Tim Kemm


“All thoughts bolted down so safe,
Now spiral away into the end times.”

– Ball Park Music



“Next thanks!”

Only two and a half more hours.

“G’Day, how you going?”

What if this is the only game we get to play this season?

“Would you like a bag for 15 cents?”

And what if we lose?!

“What was the reason for the return?”

I mean, I guess I’m in Canberra now. So I was going to miss most of the season anyway.

“Can I get assistance to hi-fi please, that’s assistance to hi-fi.”

Forty-five more minutes. This feels different.

“Next thanks!”

Fyfe will probably tear us apart.

“Yeah not too bad, yourself?”

Walla, Stringer, Smith, Townsend, Fantasia, Laverde. Not a tall forward in sight.

“Would you like a bag for 15 cents?”

I mean seriously, have you ever seen a forward line that small?

“Storeroom: you’ve got a call on line 1. That’s storeroom: a call on line 1.”

Mosquito fleet indeed.

“We also have re-usable bags for a dollar.”

This person is paying with cash. Better sanitise.

“Yeah it’s a new bag policy. Came in a couple of weeks ago. All proceeds go to charity.”

Ten minutes. There’s that familiar feeling.

“Sorry, looks like that item has been discontinued.”

Time for lunch, I reckon.

“I’m just going on lunch, are you good to cover me?”

Better wash my hands.




“So Season 2020 about to get underway for Essendon and Fremantle…”

I’m sitting alone on a bench next to a carpark in Canberra, squinting through the sunlight at my phone to catch a live stream of the game. This is about as far removed from the Spirit of Footy as you can get.


“Townsend hands it off, gives it to Smith… and it’s all the way home!”

There’s that rush. It’s different, but it’s there.


“Townsend on the end of it as well, and he’s got it again!”

Better get back to work soon. Time for one more?


“He’s got it! Beautiful mark taken again by the big man Townsend!”

Of course there is. Who needs tall forwards anyway?




“Next thanks!”

That quarter wasn’t nearly as convincing as the first.

“Would you like a bag for 15 cents?”

It’s ok, we’re still 26 points up. Are Essendon really the kind of team to give up a handy lead to lesser opposition?

“Next thanks!”

Alright, fine. But this is a new season. This incarnation of Bombers won’t let me down.

“No worries, I’ll just grab a salesperson for you.”


“Next thanks!”

Ok, one quarter to go and it’s still 26 points. Relax, we can do this.

“How are you today?”

If there weren’t so many customers I’d be able to check the score more often. Better sanitise.

“Telco, you’ve got a call on line 2, that’s telco, line 2.”

Goal to Fremantle. Ok, still 20 points. Not catastrophic just yet.

“Next thanks!”

Goal to Fremantle. Don’t do this to me.

“I’ll just check our stock for you.”

Goal to Fremantle. You’ve got to me kidding me…

“Next thanks!”

A steadier. Plenty of time to lose it still…

“Next thanks!”

Goal to Fremantle. Right on cue.


Full time. Six points to the good. Looks as though our gallant attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory has been squandered. Amongst the ensuing confusion we have somehow won the game instead. 




It’s a win. Unconvincing, yes, but a win. I’m not totally sure how I feel. Relief?

Yes, the relief is there. Sweet relief.

And the joy? Yes, possibly. But different. This is all different. Yes, the stadiums are empty. But there’s something else. Something less tangible. Maybe it’s the very real possibility that this could all come to nothing. Wins are all the sweeter because they are part of something greater. A finals campaign. A Grand Final appearance. A premiership.

We’ve lost something, and it’s not just football. It’s a sense of community. It’s being a part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s going to games with your dad. It’s braving the cold and wet. It’s squeezing yourself onto a packed train. It’s investing your time, money and emotional well-being into something you have no control over. It’s revelling in the glory that you did not in any way contribute to (but dammit, it’s the glory that you deserve). It’s the heartbreak, which make no mistake, is very real.

Oh yes, the heartbreak is real.

Because you know that football means everything. But you also know that football means nothing. And that was always comforting. That comfort is gone now, and no one is quite sure when it will come back.

I better wash my hands.


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Tim Kemm

25 years old. Red, black and nothing else. Masters Student at Australian National University, Canberra (where every week is an away game)


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    In charge all match but nearly let it slip away. Signs are good, and at least we are undefeated!

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