Round 11 – Essendon v Richmond: Reinvigorated

Turns out the hostel I was staying at in Budapest was a ‘party hostel’.  I mean, when 8 out of the 13 staff are Aussies, and they refer to each other by nicknames – Cyclops, Norway, Batman, Baz, C5, Sexy Rob – you’ve got an ideal situation for it. Naturally the choice of accommodation meant going out every night. As luck would have it, my last night in Hungary’s capital involved taking part in the Alcoholympics at one of the ‘sister’ hostels. Competitive drinking games, skolling contests and shots are key ingredients in creating a tasty hangover, and sure enough that’s what I received for breakfast. My team did come second though – so it was well-deserved!

Budapest is perhaps the best city in the world to be in a less-than-healthy state however, due to its reputation as the city of spas. Looking like a Baroque palace, the largest medicinal baths in the city are the Széchenyi fürdo (Széchenyi Baths). Opening as a temporary establishment in 1881, it became immensely popular and led to the medicinal baths being added in 1913. Altogether there are 18 pools, 15 of which are fed from thermal springs coming from the second St. Stephans Well.

The pools range in temperature from 20 to 40 degrees, with a selection of saunas, steam saunas, and mineral pools to help you lazily spend an afternoon. I tell you, there is nothing quite more satisfying than walking into a 50 degree steam sauna and literally feel the excesses of last night flow out of your pores! Two months spent on a variety of hostel beds had also taken its toll on my back, so it was with great joy that I relaxed in the 38 degree medicinal baths, as well as the large outside pools with the cascading water acting as back massager. I felt like a new man.

Watching the first half of the Essendon v Richmond Dreamtime Game from a surprisingly high quality live stream at my hostel, I couldn’t help but feel as if the Bombers had somehow shared in my experience. The bye last week seemed as if it had reinvigorated them. After all, when a 39-year old Dustin Fletcher is able to break from defence and slam home the first goal of the game from outside 50 after just 43 seconds, what other conclusion can you come to?

The hallmarks of our top form last season – the long kicking, quick, precise movement of the ball, the spread from defence – they were all there. Jake Carlisle was relishing his return down back, taking intercept marks and setting up attack after attack, and of all the people in our squad, Ben Howlett was turning out to be the solution to our Inside-50 woes. Richmond threatened to find their way back into the game, but they had no hope. Even Joe Daniher was in on the act, booting an outrageous 53 metre goal as the half-time siren sounded.

I had to leave to catch a 7-hour train to Zagreb later that afternoon, but with a 39-point half-time lead I had no doubt in my mind that when I eventually found Wi-Fi again, the result would be in our favour.
Arriving in the Croatian capital, my predictions proved spot on. A 50-point win, a return (almost) to the Top Eight, and signs that maybe our season won’t be a write-off after all.
Essendon:  4.4    9.8    11.11   15.14   (104)              
Richmond: 0.1    3.5      3.8      7.12    (54)
Essendon: Howlett 5, Daniher 3, Merrett 2, Fletcher, Chapman, Heppell, Hibberd, Bellchambers
Richmond: Riewoldt 3, Martin 2, Cotchin, Edwards,
Essendon: Howlett, Fletcher, Carlisle, Watson, Goddard
Richmond: Martin, Jackson, Ellis
Howlett (3), Carlisle (2), Fletcher (1) 

About Sam Laffy

Thirty-something year-old Essendon supporter. Winning the flag in 2000 when I was 12 was supposed to kick off a dynasty I could boast about for years. Still waiting for that 17th flag.....

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