Round 17 Essendon v Port Adelaide: The season’s not over yet.

Essendon vs Port Adelaide at Docklands Stadium.

 

Dan Hansen

 

After the Showdown loss last week I said to myself, “the season’s over”. Then I remembered another time when I said the very same thing. It was back in 1988 after the final minor round game of the A9 SA amateur league season.

We played Gepps Cross at home and win, lose or draw we were playing them again the following week in the elimination semi-final. I recall our coach’s pre-match speech when he said something like, “This match may have no bearing on the premiership table but it was important to send a message. We have to demolish this team and put the fear of God into the rest of the competition.”  I was fired up, my team mates seemed fired up, and we ran out onto the ground screaming and growling … and then got smashed, by about eight goals, in a canter. I went back to the pub that night and thought, “the season’s over”. During the week I accepted invitations to three twenty first birthday parties which were scheduled for the evening after the grand final.

The next week we fronted up to Gepps Cross again and despite them dominating the play for three quarters we were only a few goals down at three quarter time, mostly due to their poor goal kicking. The last quarter was a beauty, as we slogged our way to a slight lead before running away with a twenty point victory. The preliminary final was a carbon copy of the previous week. We played Rosewater after they were beaten the week before by eight goals and eleven behinds by a rampant Woodville South. In a tough goal for goal game we kicked the last four goals of the game to win with the identical score line as the week before.

The grand final was one of the weirdest and most memorable games I have ever played in. Woodville South not only soundly beat us twice during the season but had only lost one game in the last two years. On a muddy track they had a lot of the ball and it spent most of the time in their forward half. Somehow when the ball did go into our forward fifty we scored a goal. I was surprised when we kicked the opening two goals of the last quarter and were six goals up. Then their rally started. They kicked a goal, then another and then another. With five minutes remaining they kicked a goal to get within nine points. I knew the momentum had to be halted, so at the next centre bounce a packed formed around the trapped ball and I got up and grabbed an opposition player by the jumper and started to shake him whilst accusing him of biting me. A melee formed and a few of my team mates had cottoned on to what I was up to and joined in. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and finger pointing. The following ball up one of their players unloaded a swinging arm to my head and gave away a free kick. This allowed us to go deep into our forward line and bottle up the game. We must have had about twenty inside fifties to sixty but won 10-3 to 7-12. Even though our season was over four weeks earlier we had somehow pinched a premiership.

I sat down to watch the Essendon – Port game thinking it was little more than a dead rubber. It seemed as many of the Bomber supporters thought the same as the majority stayed home. Right from the start it was obvious it was going to be a free flowing, high scoring game. The game was played in three goal burst with neither team ever getting more than a twenty one point lead all day. The only real exception was from the nine minute mark of the second quarter to the six minute mark of the third, where Port kicked eight goals to one and turned a seventeen point deficit into a twenty point lead. This period of goal kicking dominance proved to be the difference between the two teams.

For Port it was the usual suspects who got them over the line. Boak, Gray, Wines, Wingard and Hartlett all played to their typical high standards, with Broadbent having a better than usual day out. However the drop in form from mid last year of Monfries, Westhoff, Lobbe and Schulz still remains a concern, as does Ebert’s footskills. A special mention must go to Patty Ryder, who had his best game for the club. The expected pantomime booing from the Essendon fans seemed to pump him up, especially in the last quarter where he scored three telling goals.

Essendon had a few surprise packages I knew little about. Zach Merrett, Langford, O’Brien and Leverde were as conspicuous as they were dangerous. This only augurs well for the Bombers’ future. Otherwise Hooker had the better of Hombsch, who has been rarely beaten this year, and Goddard seemed to get plenty of the ball.

Overall it was an entertaining game and by the end I thought Port’s season may not be over. We would have to win every game in order to scrape into eighth spot. With winnable games against St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, GWS and Gold Coast it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. We also have Fremantle at home in the final minor round game but, with a bit of luck, they could have a top two spot sewn up and send over Peel Thunder like they have in previous years.

The finals run doesn’t look too difficult either. Firstly we would probably have Richmond in a final, that’s an easy win. We could even rest Boak and Gray increasing our chances for subsequent finals. Next we would probably have a Swans team in severe decline followed by one of the Perth teams, who we have beaten in big games in recent years. All winnable.

The only real obstacle standing between Port and the premiership is we would have to beat Hawthorn in Melbourne twice. On second thoughts, “our season’s over,” along with sixteen other clubs.

 

 

ESSENDON                              6.1           8.9           12.12     17.14 (116)

PORT ADELAIDE                   4.3           10.5        13.6        20.9 (129)

 

GOALS:

Essendon: Hooker 3, Laverde 2, Langford 2, Daniher 2, Heppell, J Merrett, Goddard, Hurley, Z Merrett, Zaharakis, Browne, Edwards

Port Adelaide: Ryder 4, Schulz 3, Wingard 3, Neade 2, Boak 2, Ebert, Boak, Westhoff, Lobbe, Gray, Moore, White

 

BEST

Essendon: Zach Merrett, O’Brien, Stanton, Hooker, Goddard, Langford

Port Adelaide: Boak, Wines, Wingard, Ryder, Broadbent, Hartlett, Gray

 

Umpires: Brown, Nicholls, Ryan

 

Official crowd: 23,705 at Docklands Stadium

 

Our Votes: 3 Boak (PA), 2 Wines (PA), 1 Zach Merrett (E)

 

 

Comments

  1. Great article Dan

    But I must point out that I made an important contribution to both the 1988 and 89 flags by going overseas mid 88 and staying there for about 2 1/2 years

  2. Rulebook says:

    Good stuff Danny and I will get over the fact you opted to play,Doris Stokes and the Soothsayers instead of a a double 1s eventually.Richmond,Chaplin and finals might as well do it properly and just play your SANFL side to have every 1 fresh and yep the hawks look awesome

  3. Simon Bowden says:

    Being an Rssendon supporter, I believe next season has begun. I would also like to remind Danny that another reason we won the Rosewater game was that a few of their better players were unavailable due to being in lockup. I also can’t believe my one and only goal that year was not mentioned. Keep up the faith, Danny.

  4. Dan Hansen says:

    Turtle,

    I remember that you kicked one of our only two goals in the last quarter of the Grand Final. The other was kicked by Snail Stokes. We weren’t a quick team but we were elusive and always seemed to have plenty of time.

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