Round 1 – Essendon v Geelong: Preview






They make the long trip down Geelong road to the MCG and find their seats at the other end of your row, banging into your knees as they pass, all civilized, saying excuse me, but in the end, after the third bang, you stand and turn sideways legs together leaning back to make extra room for them to waddle and twist their way past in their battered hats, holding car blankets, tartan thermoses, and buckets of Auntie Maggie’s scones filled with dates.


Better keep your wits about you. Try not to fall for the charming, good old country folk shakedown. Sure, our lovely country supporters start of all Good football. Clap, Clap, Clap but in the last quarter, when things fall apart, and there’s nothing left but a gloomy trip back to the farm, watch out for their dark side. The skies will fill with dissent. No scones for you umpire!


My favourite Ess v Geel game isn’t the one where Ablett kicked 14 and Salmon 10. I couldn’t get to that because there was a new born baby in the house and I had to finish hooking up the central heating before the winter set in. I listened to the game on the radio while sliding around on my belly tying up the duct bags. The acoustics were good but it wasn’t the same as being there.


I went to one at Kardinia Park that sticks in my brain. Geelong was hot favourite but we started better than expected and had our nose in front at half time. Better still, I’d put money on a red hot tip: number 6 in the fifth at Caulfield and watched in suspense as the narrow door on the scoreboard opened, a hand reached out, and up went: Race 5: 6, 1, 3. What a day this was going to be. My luck had turned.


But just as I thought it, the little door opened again and the anonymous hand of fate swapped 6 and 1 around the other way. The crowd became quite animated (we all had the tip) pointing and yelling up at the scoreboard. A skinny kid popped out a different door and lent out on his belly and shouted down that the race caller had got the photo wrong. My world fell apart. Then Essendon fell behind. Half way through the last quarter Geelong was at peace. Plenty of scones for everyone.


The Centenary game in 1996 is my favourite game by far. Before the bounce they put on a fireworks footy game. Giant red crackers spinning through the air following the arc of a perfect drop punt, heading for the centre of the big sticks made from giant sparklers. Red and black explosions high up in the sky showering down on us.







But it wasn’t just the crackers, what really made it my favourite was the return of Darren Bewick after a knee operation. He kicked 9. Didn’t miss. 9-0-54. Nine Zero Fifty Four. From all angles. In the last quarter he stood alone in the square with hands on hips taking it all in. Things had turned out well for him. The crowd spotted him and chanted deep from their Essendon souls, “Bewick, Bewick, Bewick…”  It went on and on all the way around the ground, then time stopped and the world became one and the world was called Bewick – not the car, the small forward who put us into the GF in ‘93. Welcome home legend.


Imagine having a day like that. A day that starts good and keeps getting better. It happens. Some days start good and go downhill like with number 6. But overall, the usual pattern is for days to start good, go a bit down hill, and then finish on the up. That’s exactly how I think this next game against Geelong will go.


Essendon will get off to a flyer then be overtaken by the proven class of the Cat’s senior players. But it won’t last and late in the third Cox will shark the lifesaver on the wing and commence a cavalcade of six pointers that puts the game out of reach. The good old pivotonian-seagull-hand bagger-cats will be bent over, hands on knees, looking underdone. I can see them now, I’ve got ESP, they’re taking painful tiny swigs from their carefully labelled personal water bottles. They’re looking up from under their eyebrows at Essendon rejoicing in their second wind. The younger lads in red and black taking it in turns to run and jump and create sparkling explosions of four quarter football.


Prediction: Bombers by 29. The same as in the Centenary and in 1897 as well.




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  1. Colin Ritchie says

    I’m quietly confident the Bombers can win this match and provide the impetus for a season from them that we haven’t seen for some time. Go Bombers!

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