Round 18 – Essendon v Western Bulldogs: 23 minutes, 23 seconds

The quarter-time siren blew at 3.44pm.

From a statistical standpoint it was straightforward: 23 minutes and 23 seconds had elapsed.

The shortest quarter in an AFL match since Champion Data started recording that information in 1999.

It was all that was required for me to know that Essendon wasn’t winning this game of football.

The performance was at once comical and mesmerizing.

Normally cool heads would gather the ball, look up and see a wall of opposition, panic, and the ball would be kicked sideways. The mark would be spoiled, the loose ball fumbled, a hasty handball turn the ball over, and the process would repeat itself.

The sheer ineffectiveness of each team, both unwilling to move the ball quickly and take the game on, was staggering. Only Stewart Crameri was able to break free and snap truly, his goal the only one for the quarter.

The whole shemozzle may as well have not occurred, such little impact did it have on the scoreboard.

The last match I attended was Essendon’s truly abysmal showing against the Saints in Round 14. Enough time had passed for me to muster the courage to venture back to the ‘Dome’, once again remarking that if we started strongly we’d have a good chance.

The quarter-time report?

Our forward line was as inept as ever, our midfield unable to win a clear clearance out of the congestion, and our backline grimly holding on.

Early in the second quarter – seemingly having decided that the first quarter was indeed simply an extended pre-game warm-up – the Dogs clicked. They kicked clear with four goals in a 10-minute period that quickly had them skip out to a handy lead.

They’ve been the surprise packets of 2015, yet I haven’t been able to make a judgment call on their progress due to simply not seeing enough of them. Having watched them tear the Bombers to shreds in the final three-quarters – booting 18 goals to 5 – I can happily announce that they are every bit as worthy of 5th place on the ladder as their record suggests.

Unlike Essendon, their brigade of youngsters has found their groove, and work together exceptionally.

Macrae, Wallis, and Dalhaus continually cleared the ball out of the middle. Lachie Hunter did pretty much as he pleased. Jason Johannisen’s speed provided excitement and dash from the backline. Their forward line – Crameri, Stringer, Dickson – doesn’t contain any ‘big names’, but is flexible enough to cause headaches for defenders.

Or in Essendon’s case, chronic migraines.

Crameri outscored us on his way to a career-best effort of 7.2. Dickson continued his deadeye streak and put through four straight to increase his streak to 21. Stringer’s athleticism was simply too much as he racked up 16 touches and four goals.

Gwilt, Carlisle, and Hooker did their best to hold off the constant stream of Inside-50’s, as the Bulldogs repeatedly cleared the ball with ease, their spread and run unchallenged by the Bombers. However, the incessant pressure proved too much.

Stanton worked hard all day on his way to 32 touches. Zach Merrett again worked hard in the packs. Heppell began slowly but was just about our only meaningful contributor in the last quarter.

33,466 turned up, but from the looks of it, there were barely 25,000 by the time the final siren blew. It was dire stuff.

ESSENDON                         0.4    2.5     4.7       5.10  (40)
WESTERN BULLDOGS      1.2    8.8   15.11   19.13 (127)  

Essendon: Stanton, Langford, Hooker, Z Merrett, Daniher
Western Bulldogs: Crameri 7, Stringer 4, Dickson 4, Daniel 2, Wallis, Johannisen

 Stanton, Merrett, Hibberd, Hooker, Heppell
Western Bulldogs: Crameri, Wallis, Stringer, Hunter, Dahlhaus, Johannisen, Picken

Votes: Crameri (3), Stringer (2), Johannisen (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.....


  1. Pretty much exactly how I saw the game as well Sam.

    I take nothing away from the quality of footy the Dogs brought to the game after quarter time, but there was no creativity or preparedness to work hard from a number of players on too many occasions from Essendon players.

    I’m struggling for positives from this. Ill-disciplined, lethargic and outclassed. We’re in a lot of bother for a long while to come yet.

  2. It’s so frustrating to watch!

    As I said in my write-up, the Dogs are a quality side this year there’s no doubt, but the lack of effort that is put out by 2/3s of the Bombers sqaud is staggering at times.

    As much as I like Hirdy, I’m starting to lose faith.

  3. I didn’t see the game, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a quarter that short.
    Amazing they didn’t want to attack.
    Tactics and defence gone mad, or is it timidity?

  4. For the Bombers, a defensive mindset, combined with poor foot skills which meant our entries were woeful.
    For the Dogs, some timidity (which they quickly shook off after quarter-time), and again, a defensive mindset.

    It was genuinely strange to watch.

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