Round 2 – Essendon v Melbourne: DMZ: Daniher, Merrett, Zaharakis

For the past 11 days, I’ve been in South Korea (aren’t school holidays a wonderful things?)

Last week, I was lucky(?) enough to venture to the DMZ – easily the most surreal place I’ve ever visited.

The following weekend (Round 2), the mighty Dons defeated a Melbourne side buoyant after a strong Round 1 comeback win – perhaps the most surreal result I’ve witnessed for quite some time.

For those of you who fill your brains with other, much more important information, here’s a quick history lesson: The DeMilitarized Zone sits along the 38th Parallel, was created at the armistice between North and South Korea during peace treaties on July 27 1953, and occupies a 4km wide, 250km long zone of fortified guard-posts. It’s perhaps the most heavily armed border in the world.

Essendon has our own DMZ in 2016: Daniher, Merrett, Zaharakis.

Inside the DMZ, at Panmunjom, is the Joint Security Area (JSA) where buildings lie directly on the Military Demarcation Line (DML) that designates the official boundary between the two nations. Here peace conferences take place (or at least, are meant to).

If Essendon had taken part in more effective ‘peace conferences’ with ASADA and WADA, perhaps they too (like the North Koreans) would be in a better place now.

Fun Fact: In this place sits the MAC Building where the armistice was signed. There’s a table in the middle of the building, with a ‘line’ down the middle. During the tour, you’re allowed to walk to the far side of the building and be technically standing on North Korean soil. On a good(?) day, the building will sometimes have North Korean soldiers poking their heads in for a closer look at the tourists.

Here, soldiers stare each other down, North Korean propaganda blares from huge speakers near the border, and a tense atmosphere reigns.

One of the most interesting facts presented on the day was that from the gung-ho American infantryman who doubled as our tour guide within the DMZ. There are regular night patrols by United Nations (read: mostly American) soldiers in the area. There are also illuminated phone boxes that lie along the border for any North Korean defectors attempting to escape with ‘state secrets’.

If they reach the phone, and ring the number, a patrol will be there within 20 minutes to pick them up.

On the weekend, Essendon found that metaphorical rescue phone.

Round 1 saw us horribly beaten to a pulp by a – seemingly emerging – Gold Coast outfit to the tune of 10 goals. It seemed that all the pre-season predictions would come true: That the Bombers would be in a for a long, long, year (much like many of the North Korean farmers visible from an observatory platform in the DMZ).

Yet, deep in the forests of despair, Joe Daniher turned into the savior, slipping into full-footballing-Rambo mode on his way to 15 marks (7 contested), 21 touches, and a couple of goals.

Side-Note: If he can learn to kick straight again he’ll be laughing his way to 80+ goals a year in the near future.

Zerrett (Zach Merrett) again showed he’ll be a genuine jet this year in the midfield, with Zaharakis, Goddard, and Kelly all chiming in with some excellent attacking footy.

Melbourne – led by Ben Kennedy and Bernie Vince – did their level best to avoid yet another embarrassing defeat for the club and turned a deficit into a lead in the last quarter, but the intensity from the Bombers was too much.

They weren’t going to be denied. They’ve had a long journey to this point.

On Saturday, they’d made it over the border. There was no looking back.

Essendon: 2.2, 7.7, 8.10, 11.14 (80)
Melbourne: 1.4, 6.4, 7.7, 10.7 (67)

Goals

Essendon: Z.Merrett 2, Brown 2, Daniher 2, Stokes, Hartley, Kommer, Langford, Parish
Melbourne: Kennedy 3, Garlett 2, Braysahw, Harmes, Oliver, Watts, Hogan

Best

Essendon: Daniher, Z.Merrett, Zaharakis, Parish
Melbourne: Kennedy, Vince, N.Jones

Votes: J.Daniher (3), Z.Merrett (2), B.Kennedy (1)

About Sam Laffy

26-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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