Round 1 – Gold Coast v Essendon: The Hope of a New Season – Beset With Worries

Gold Coast v Essendon
3:35pm, Saturday, 26th March
Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast


As a transplanted and disgruntled fan of one of the ‘traditional’ Victorian clubs, I had decided to cut my losses and get on board with the Suns a few years back. While we up north don’t get the smothering print media coverage that Melburnians have, the internet, Fox Footy and various podcasts mean we still know what’s going on, far more so than when I moved up here nearly 20 years ago.

I love the start of a new AFL season. I love the hype in the weeks leading up to it. I love the experts all tipping repeat premierships. I love the promise that new recruits, young and older, bring to each club. I love it that (almost) everybody has a renewed hope for their team.

But going to Metricon Stadium for this match I was also filled with dread. What if the unthinkable happened – and Essendon actually won? Being a footy fan, I understand how incredibly important a win to start the season can be. As a Suns fan, after an awful 2015 campaign, I want to believe that things have turned around. But why on earth did we get Essendon first up? Everyone knows the story; but we also know that they will win a game (or two or three) at some point. Who would want to be the first team to drop the 4 points against them?

The first score of the game is a goal to David Zaharakis, Essendon’s shining light of integrity, and my stress levels rose significantly. But that was pretty much it for the Dons in the first half, and at the long break I was able to relax a little, with Suns holding a 44 point lead.

Unfortunately, Gold Coast also relaxed, and while Essendon did not win a quarter, they were able to play more competitive footy in the second half – something Suns’ coach Rodney Eade alluded to in his post-match presser.

Aaron Hall continued on his excellent form from the end of 2015 with an outstanding performance in the middle. Gary Ablett, Dion Prestia and Rory Thompson, who all spent significant periods of last year out of the team due to injury, were able to use an undermanned Essendon to run into some form. New player Matt Rosa, fresh from a Grand Final appearance with the Eagles, showed that he will be important this year. Nick Malceski played his best game for the Suns since moving north last year. Mind you, he was coming off a pretty low baseline to achieve that. Jesse Lonergan, despite trying to kill himself in a head clash with teammate Trent McKenzie, showed that he is finally arriving as a player in his fourth year at Gold Coast.

Essendon fans look as if they have a long lean year ahead of them. Their top-up players showed what a lack of a solid pre-season looks like. With the exception of Matthew Stokes there wasn’t much to see among them. Ryan Crowley played on Ablett when he had the energy to do so, and would possibly have got a few more kicks if he’d played closer, as Gary would have led him to the ball on 34 occasions.
The natural arrogance of the Essendon fans seems to have been tempered somewhat. I wouldn’t go so far as to say there was any humility yet, but who knows what will happen after six months of hidings?
One bright spot they do have is Darcy Parish who had an excellent debut match, and was their second-best player. Callum Ah Chee debuted for the Suns, and had a few kicks, and scored a goal in his first match, so he would have gone home happy.

As did I. It’s always good to win by 10 goals (doesn’t happen too often for the GC), and it’s always nice to beat Essendon. How good are we this year? I have no idea. We beat a depleted Essendon as had to be done, and next week it’s Freo in Perth on the rebound. Dare I hope? Of course.


GOLD COAST 5.5 11.9 15.14 17.19 (121)
ESSENDON 1.0 5.1 7.5 9.6 (60)


Gold Coast: Lynch 4, Martin 2, Day 2, Hall 2, Ah Chee, Malceski, Lonergan, Miller, Sexton, Prestia, Ablett
Essendon: Stokes 3, Zaharakis 2, McKernan, Daniher, Crowley, Langford

Gold Coast: Hall, Ablett, Lonergan, Rischetelli, Rosa, May, Malceski
Essendon: Zaharakis, Parish, Stokes

UMPIRES: Hosking, Hay, McInerney?ATTENDANCE: 16,239
Our votes:?Hall (GC) 3; Zaharakis (Ess) 2; Ablett (GC) 1.


Retired teacher and sports fan originally from Victoria, now in southern inland Queensland. AFL, cricket, MLB (and anything else where I might have an opinion) Gold Coast Suns


  1. Great write up. Please feel free to visit the Suns community on Big Footy to post links to your write-ups in future – they’ll surely appreciate it!

    Go Suns!

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