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Round 19 – Essendon v Sydney: No Magic Wand

Essendon v Sydney

7:50PM, Friday July 27

Docklands Stadium

 

 

 

 

Wizards are known for making magical things happen. This provides some good and some bad news for me tonight – I’m off to the footy with a mate who’s known as the ‘West Calder Wizard’. What’s the problem with that? Well, tonight he’s the opposition.

 

 

About a decade ago, the West Calder Wizard emerged from the solitude of the Scottish Highlands to embark on a journey; a journey to an unknown land. This odyssey took an unexpected turn. For not long after landing on our shores, the Wizard found love. Those close to him were fond of his cordial manner and were not surprised when news of this romantic liaison filtered through to the homeland. He remained and that meant he needed a footy team.

 

 

Yes, the Wizard became a Bombers’ man and, although I had plans to convert the Wizard into a Swan, I failed. We attended a match at Etihad Stadium in 2011. It was his second live match and he had just recently selected them as his team of choice. After sufficient pre-match lubrication, we entered the arena. The match was toing and froing all night, until finally, the final siren sounded. Goodesy had just taken a mark and had the ball in hand. The Wizard leapt up out of his seat and began the celebrations. After my careful explanation of the rules, he sheepishly sat as Goodesy lined up the set shot that could win the match. The tension was palpable as the great man struck the Sherrin. He missed. The Wizard rejoiced and I couldn’t help but smile. He will now forever don the sash.

 

 

This is sure to be a tense encounter as both teams are entrenched in the race for finals positions. News from the ticket booths trickles through the throngs that there is standing room only, with half an hour to go before the ball is bounced. The atmosphere is building. Much like it was on the evening of the Wizard’s buck’s night at this very same venue. That occasion saw us taking in the talents of the world’s premier darts players. That occasion also saw us, (along with thousands of others), vacating the premises under the guise of Victoria’s riot police.

 

 

The match begins at a frenetic pace and both teams trade goals on a quick deck. The intensity is up on the ground and in the stands. The Enemy has turned out in droves and they’re baying for blood(s). Buddy seems to be the major target of their tirades. I presume that’s because he’s destroyed them for the best part of a decade.

 

 

In the second quarter, we start to take some control and scoot out to a double-figured lead – a rare occurrence for either team up to this point. The end of the term however saw The Enemy surge, and the main break arrived with the teams separated by a couple of points.

 

 

The Bombers soared in the second half and we struggled to keep pace. Our boys were flat. Longmire’s expression reminded me of the Wizard’s reaction when I ordered a couple of Strawberry & Lime Ciders at closing time in an inner city Melbourne bar. This ended the evening, apart from a fleeting moment when we considered taking a lovely portrait of ‘Lil Wayne’ off the wall of the bar upon exiting. A memento? Wisely, we decided against it.

 

 

Just as wisely, our Bloods brethren must decide against overreaction to current form. Leave that to the Victorian-based media hordes that’ve been waiting 23 years for their opportunity to pounce. Claims of an outdated game plan, slow ball movement and a combative style finally taking its toll are the product of lazy observation. We need to delve a little deeper to see what’s really going on.

 

 

Unlike the Wizard, we don’t possess some type of magic wand to wave. There are reasons for these post-bye blues but it’s not all doom and gloom. While the past two weeks have been especially disappointing, some perspective is needed. We have over 1100 games of senior football experience currently unavailable to play. Many of these missing players provide crucial on-field leadership. We are incredibly fortunate to call a classy clutch of cygnets our own and they continue to impress. However, their responsibilities are growing disproportionately to their own level of experience as the older brigade are on the sidelines. They may just be tiring.

 

 

The game style that is now being so aggressively questioned is, believe it or not, the very same game style that had us playing off for top-spot only five games ago. The difference? It’s two-fold: personnel and confidence. Amazingly, sometimes these two elements actually go hand in hand. There’s no need to panic here. If there’s to be a slide, it’ll only be temporary.

 

 

We now have Heeney, Hayward, Jones, Papley, Florent, Ronke, Mills, Hewett, McCartin, Aliir, O’Riordan and Melican forming the core of our New Bloods. Our first choice from last year’s draft is yet to debut and there looks to be another beaut wanting to join in at season’s end. If that’s not reason enough to keep the faith, then I’ll eat the Wizard’s hat.

 

 

After some post-match analysis at a nearby watering hole, perspective is found and to the victor goes the spoils. In this case, a pilfered kebab (a story for another time). I’m happy for the Wizard. He’s fallen on his feet and is now probably the most Aussie Scotsman since Spike Milligan. If only he could cast a spell for us.

 

 

To read more stories from Round 19 CLICK HERE

 

 

ESSENDON  2.3   6.7  11.11  15.19 (109)
SYDNEY       3.3   6.4  10.5    10.6 (66)

GOALS
Essendon: Brown 2, McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, Baguley 2, Smith 2, Zaharakis, Parish, McKenna, Merrett, Stringer, Fantasia, Myers
Sydney: Franklin 2, Parker, Papley, Sinclair, Heeney, Newman, Dawson, Grundy, Ronke 

BEST
Essendon: Hurley, Heppell, Myers, Merrett, Parish, Zaharakis
Sydney: Aliir, Lloyd, Kennedy, Heeney, Smith, Parker

Crowd: 42,251

 

 

About Joe Moore

Learned the art of the drop-punt from Derek Kickett as Jamie Lawson watched on. And thus, a Swan for life. @joedmoore1979

Comments

  1. Keiran Croker says:

    Hey Joe, yep, I think we have run out of gas. While some other teams have a longer list of injuries ours are quite strategic … lots of talls and experienced mids missing …which has put a big load on younger players. I also agree that analysis is shallow. As soon as we falter we are supposedly old, slow, defensive and too reliant on Buddy. None of that stands up to scrutiny. The fact that Buddy is playing injured and his only tall support is an 18 year old is overlooked.
    I’m positive that we have recruited well to add skill and pace to our list. I think the reality is that we also have a handful of players in their early 20s who are not quite up to it (you probably know who I mean) and we will need to bolster our midfield depth preferably with some experienced trades or from the lower tier comps. Hopefully young Blakey will be as good as everyone says.
    Lets keep the faith.

  2. “Young Blakey”, Keiran?
    I think John is 52 years of age and his best footy would surely be behind him. (-:}

  3. Daniel Flesch says:

    Joe ! Mate ! ” most Aussie Scotsman since Spike Milligan ” No no no ! I was going to write “He’s Irish !” But looked it up first …Irish father , English mother , and born in India . Maybe you were thinking of his classic quip , delivered in Scots brogue …” Is anything worn under the kilt ?” …” No , it’s all in perfect working order!” But back to the football …seems to me there has been more than the normal quota of injuries right around the AwFL this year . Collingwood the hardest hit , and my mob currently have their first ruck ( McEvoy ) and star CHB and occasional forward ( Sicily ) out long-term as well as superstar (Cyril) jumping ship mid season. Burgoyne and Puopolo missing many matches too. Giants had a lot out , look how they’re going with a couple now back playing. Other clubs too , probably , just don’t follow them all closely enough. Finally ( whew) is L. Franklin playing injured as some are speculating ? Not smart if he is.

  4. Keiran Croker says:

    Pete,
    I reckon J.Blakey could add some bite around the packs, which we are currently lacking, though was referring to his son Nick, who is supposedly a top ten pick this year and has nominated the Swans via the Academy as his preferred destination.

    Daniel,
    Agree, other teams have had more injuries. Ours have exposed our younger players to a heavier load and have also exposed a cohort that are not quite up to it. And yes, Buddy has had a heel injury since Rd1 .. can’t train but can play and needs a long break to get it right.

  5. That’s great that Nick has nominated the Swans as his preferred destination, Keiran.
    If he has even half the football longevity of his Dad (18 years, 359 games) he’ll be a wonderful acquisition for the red-and-whites.

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