Round 5 – Collingwood v Essendon: ANZAC XXIV

by Mark O’Connell


ANZAC XXIV I’ll call it. I’ve been to all 24 which is remarkable given how rarely I attend games these days.


For 15 consecutive years from 2002 to 2016, ANZAC day began with the Dawn Service at the Shrine with my cousin Noel. A change in tradition occurred last year when ill-health precluded Noel’s attendance and whilst we again were absentees this year, Noel is plotting a 2019 comeback.


He didn’t attend the game either, failing a fitness test on the eve of the big clash but we agree to meet for lunch near where he resides in Prahran. So I plot a train route from Williams Landing to a station, Hawksburn, that I never knew existed which worked a treat as lunch extended beyond 2.30 and I still made it into the ground in plenty of time. Coming off the emergency bench to replace Noel in the selected line-up was work colleague Paul McGuire, an Essendon supporter, who remarkably tells me he went to the first ANZAC clash in 1995 and had never been since. As well as teaching VCE Biology and Chemistry, Paul is also a champion ball-room dancer specialising in the Salsa (just to add to his player profile).




Anyway on to the game!


An anticlimactic start with no centre bounce and then a fairly even first quarter.


Reid takes a good grab but misses from point blank range. Later in the quarter a second howler from him as he spills the easy mark on the lead from Pendlebury under no pressure whatsoever. Daniher gets the first goal of the game for the Bombers before a gift from the destabilising Goddard gives us our first to Hoskin-Elliott. Stringer kicks 2 for the Dons and we rely on opportunistic goals to De Goey and Sidebotton with 2 in quick succession.


The second quarter is a bit frustrating as we are all over them without making much impression on the scoreboard. We are completely dominant around the packs but overdo the handball frequently and come unstuck. Cox finally takes a clean grab but frustratingly passes off to Aish who fails to convert.


On a brighter note, Aish is having one of his best games and by halftime is a chance for a Horsburgh vote. An opportunistic goal from Stephenson is very welcome and then shortly after the highlight of the day where Treloar and Crisp run in parallel for a hundred metres before Treloar kicks long and true for a brilliant goal. Half time sees us 17 points to the good though it should have been more.


Scoring is at an all time low in the AFL and the third quarter typifies this with 2 goals only kicked through Stephenson and big Cox. Last year I thought Essendon were the best side in the comp to watch but this year they are the worst as they continuously chip around the back half making no progress at all. One supporter behind us has seen enough and screams “the switch is not working” which Paul and I concur on. The only one who attempts to take the game on is the poor man’s Sam Murray, Adam Saad.


The floodgates finally open in the last quarter. 6 of the first 7 goals sees the lead beyond 10 goals before Essendon get 2 consolations to finish 49 points in arrears.


The votes


  1. Adam Treloar – deserved ANZAC medal


  1. Scott Pendlebury – first half was the best he’s looked in ages


  1. Brodie Grundy – another powerhouse performance



Honourable mentions to Sidebottom, De Goey, Aish, Langdon and Varcoe.





Grundy and Sidebottom are just about the best two players in the entire league for the season so far


I’ve been saying for 2 years that the Grundy/Cox combination can be a massive weapon for us. He’s had a slow start to the year Cox but might be on the verge of breaking through as I had forecast.


Tickled pink with Stephenson’s game backing up from his breakout game in Adelaide.


Not particularly missing scrubber Taylor Adams but I suppose he will back shortly.


Sam Murray is a fantastic recruit. Can scarcely believe our luck on this one.


The backline deserves a bit of credit. I thought Langdon was excellent and Scharenberg is quietly making progress.


Continuity is really important and selecting blokes for an extended period even when they’re not setting the world on fire is a better policy than rushing back underdone players. Moral of this is to stick with Callum Brown for a while and maybe even Crocker who at times looks a bit limited.



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