Round 6 – Essendon v Collingwood: A day for remembering and to remember.

 

By Caspar McLeod.
Essendon v Collingwood.
Melbourne Cricket Ground, 25/4/2019.

 

I’ve always watched the Anzac Day clash between my beloved Bombers and the dreaded Magpies overseas in Dubai. Woken up early for the dawn service, gotten to school, avoided checking the AFL website or any news sources that may reveal the score all day, get home and wait for Dad to arrive back home from either the Dubai or Abu Dhabi office, and watch the match after a delicious meal from Mum or Lynn. Two years in a row we had dear Collingwood friends of ours over. Those two years we lost closely fought, low-scoring matches. Other years, we have been smashed. Last year was a disappointment. Rarely since I’ve started following footy in mid-2009 have we won on this day. And although we didn’t win today, it was a day for remembering and a day to remember.

 

It was the first time I had ever been to the dawn service in Australia having moved back to Melbourne for university a few months ago. The service at the Shrine of Remembrance was touching. No, it was more than touching. It was emotional, it was poignant, and it was atmospheric. Me and, I would have guessed, tens of thousands, maybe even hundred of thousands, of others sitting with our thoughts. I recalled being at Gallipoli back a few years ago with Mum and Dad, walking those same fields where so many died. I was in tears back then, and I was on the verge of tears again.

 

It was the first time I had ever been to the Collingwood v Essendon clash. Walking to the MCG with my parents in a sea of black with white and black with red, wearing red and black head to toe, I was excited. Dad was nervous. Mum was happy after having seen her Tigers live the night before smash the Demons.

 

The pre-game ceremony was perfect; a motorcade of former footy players who have served for both clubs around the ground.

 

I always thought of how beautiful listening to the “Last Post” was on TV in Dubai. Listening to it live followed by the minute of silence? Shivers down the spine.

 

Game started.

 

We were terrible for the first quarter and a bit. Collingwood were good. I figured out the formula for the Bombers this year: Lead at quarter time, and we win. Trail, and we loose. Halfway through the second term, it was looking like we would loose by ten goals. And then, we turned the tide.

 

A black and red tsunami was starting to wash over the MCG, on the ground and in the crowd. Joey Daniher announced his come back on the MCG with a beautiful goal on the half-time siren.

 

We were back.

 

The game was in the balance throughout the entire second half. It turned out to be a classic. And, yes, as a biased Essendon fan, I will say the umpiring was terrible. However, as a fan of football in general, I will admit that the umpiring was terrible against both teams.

 

In the end, what cost us the game wasn’t terrible decisions against us. It was that first quarter, just like against St. Kilda, plus turnovers in the last quarter from players who you would not expect them from. My head fell into my hands when the siren sounded. The Magpie song blasted onto the sound system. I turned to Collingwood supporters next to me and shook their hands, congratulating them. I had to rush off to rehearsals. I didn’t stay for the presentation, I couldn’t. Therefore, I didn’t hear the booing of Scott Pendlebury. But when I found out, I thought it was disgusting. And writing it now, I still do. He’s a champion. And even if he did duck his head, on a day where footy takes a back seat, booing should take a back seat too. It should not raise its ugly head.

 

Today was a day for remembering. Remembering the ones who sacrificed their lives far away from home. And thanking not only them, but the ones who continue to put their lives at risk every day far away from home. It was also a day to remember. The mixture of the atmosphere at the Shrine of Remembrance and the footy pre-game and during the game is something I will never forget.

 

Magpies by four.

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 1979 and 2014 and I'll be happy to tell you. I'm a footy nut with a passion for writing and acting. My biggest role yet was Lord Farquaad in our school's production of Shrek. All though I love writing and acting, during the footy season, AFL is my true passion. Waiting for the day when Essendon Next win the flag.

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