Round 21 – Essendon v Footscray: Toast or not, that was a disaster!



Essendon v Western Bulldogs
7:25pm, Saturday August 10
Marvel Stadium


I will always support my beloved Bombers no matter what. There was no chance I was going to leave this game before the final siren. Even if the Dogs kicked five straight to end the first quarter, I wasn’t going to leave. I still had hope. After all, my other team, the Swans, had conceded a similar start against the Dogs in round one, and nearly stole it. And Sydney are in 15th! Surely the 7th placed team would respond.


They didn’t. The Dogs got hungrier. Still, I didn’t leave. I didn’t leave when the Dogs fan two rows behind me started to talk about a much needed “percentage booster” and how Essendon were better when we “were on drugs” (low blow), I didn’t even leave when the Bombers fans sitting in the row between the savage Dogs fan and I started to watch a streamed EPL match on their phone instead of the footy (the question was who would score more goals: Essendon, or West Ham).


No, I didn’t leave. I stayed, despite the horrific passage of play, one of many, that gifted the Dogs a goal. You know the one: The one when a kick to Hooker didn’t even make the 15 metres of space to him without bouncing on the ground before he picked it up, had HIS kick smothered, before it just stopped in the goal square. That was their 11th in a row. Or maybe their 12th, I’m not so sure exactly. I’m trying to block this game out of my memory. But it’s pretty hard to forget how awesome the Bulldogs were. And how awful we were.


The Bulldogs took it back to their 2016 vintage. In a year where they’ve lost to the Suns, Saints, Brad Scott’s Roos, and conceded 100+ points against Bolton’s Blues, they played like they did against the Eagles in Perth in the Elimination final of that year. Simply awesome. Unfortunately, we also played like we did in 2016. When we had half our team suspended, won only three games, and were routinely hammered.


The last time I saw the Dons play the Dogs live was the year before hand. Nearly the straw the broke the camel’s back for James Hird. An 87 point loss. AT LEAST that loss made sense. The Dogs were in the hunt for finals, we were trying to avoid the wooden spoon. Explain to me, this defeat, in round 21 of a season where, even after the game, the Bombers are still in the eight, and the Dogs, who, tonight at least, proved they are a 104-point better team than the aforementioned Bombers, are not.


All these thoughts were in my head as the final quarter started. The onslaught continued. At one point, the scoreline read 1.7.13 to 21. 11. 137 in favour of the red, white, and blue. We were sitting on the equal lowest score this century, tied with a young Dockers outfit from ten years ago. I would later learn that the Roos would only “better” this slightly, by kicking 1.8.14 in their loss against Geelong. As bad as that must feel for North fans, at least they have the excuse of a young, rebuilding team, sitting outside the eight, playing the ladder leaders at their home ground, in the pouring rain. What excuse did we have? Injuries? I bet if Collingwood had loss by that much earlier on Saturday to Melbourne, no one would be making that excuse for them. So I’m not making it for us.


Still, I stuck with my team until the final siren. I will admit, it was rather exciting to see whether or not we could make it under the 100+ margin before the final siren. The Bomber fans behind me quickly switched to the telecast of the game when we lessened the margin to 105, to see how much longer we had left to get it under triple digits. 1 minute. We clear it from the centre, and get it inside 50 with such skill and precision, I wonder where on earth this has been all night. A flying shot from forty meters out looks likely to get us under 100, before it just sails wide. Behind. Dogs clear it, and we don’t get another shot at it. Not that we deserved to.


I’ve never been angry before about my footy teams’ performances, but this game… WHAT WAS THIS GAME? And to think after all that we still have a chance to play finals if we just win one out of our two remaining games while the Dogs need to win both to have a shot or hope either we loose both games or the Crows collapse.


Some may say our season is toast already. To them, I am nearly inclined to agree. I mean, I’ll still support my team. I’m already coming to the Collingwood game in round 23, and will absolutely be following on the radio the Freo game. And, as the saying goes, it ain’t over until it’s over.


But, toast or not, that was a disaster.


ESSENDON                 1.1       1.3       1.7       4.9 (33)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 6.3       10.3     16.6     21.11 (137)


Essendon: Baguley 2, Shiel, McDonald-Tipungwuti,
Western Bulldogs: Dickson 3, McLean 3, Dale 3, Schache 3, Hayes 2, Naughton 2, B.Smith, Dunkley, Johannisen, Lloyd, Macrae


Essendon: Merrett, Redman, Heppell
Western Bulldogs: Dunkley, Hunter, McLean, Macrae, Dale, Smith, Bontempelli, Hayes


Crowd: 41,816


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Caspar McLeod

Third Culture Kid at Heart. Grew up in Asia, discovered footy at age 9. AFL has since been my burning passion. Ask me who were the winners all the grand finals between 1938 and last year's decider, and I'll be happy to tell you. I'm a footy nut with a passion for writing and acting. All though I love writing and acting, during the footy season, AFL is my true passion. Waiting ever so patiently for the day when Essendon Next win the flag.


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    It was certainly painful to sit through this game as I can sadly attest to. In watching the Bombers play for nearly 60 years I can’t remember such a pitiful performance, it was embarrassing! Admittedly injuries are playing havoc with the makeup of the side, some players sorely missed and others appearing to be carrying injuries. Heppell probably should not have played and Hooker looks completely out of sorts. Fantasia also must be still carrying an injury, no where is he near the best we know he can play. Others just could not get into the game.
    Few players came out of the game who can hold the heads high. I thought both Redman and Ambrose set an example unfortunately few others could attain.
    But as they say, “….there’s always next week!”

  2. No matter how bad it must have been to be at the game, listening to it on the ABC was no better. I have been following The Dons for over 70 years, i couldn’t believe what I was listening to.
    I was in disbelief with every goal the Bulldogs kicked, I thought the flu virus which knocked me over five weeks ago, had come back to haunt me.
    Playing injured/unfit players never works and Saturday night surely proves that point.
    I take your point Col, there is always next week, although what next week brings could be excruciating.
    Rod Oaten

  3. I’m heartily sick of the disrespect shown to teams outside the Magic Melbourne Circle when they tear them another one. That game wasn’t about the Bombers, it was about the Magnificent Doggies, but you’d hardly believe they were even there if you listened to the football media over the weekend and today.

    Footscray would have nailed anyone the way they played on Saturday (and against my Dockers a fortnight ago) but, no, it’s all about the Bombers, the Blues, the Pies and the Tigers.

    It’s excruciating, embarrassing and nauseating. And very, very bad for footy.

  4. Len Rodwell says

    As a Doggies fan I agree with your sentiments. I was also disappointed that Channel Seven chose to show the Geelong North game rather than this one. However, I must also acknowledge the effort put in by Caspar to write this post. It must have been hard to do. Also Colin and Rod for taking the time to provide comments. Thgs is what the Almanac is all about and makes it a special part of the footy media.

  5. Caspar,
    I watched this match with Mrs Smokie (an avid Dogs fan)…
    Suffice to say that while she was ebullient, I was appalled at Essendon’s performance.
    No excuses for that display.

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