Round 6 – Essendon v Collingwood: A Massed Gathering



2020’s ANZAC Day edition was marked by a lone bugler delivering a haunting rendition of the Last Post, each note echoing sombrely through a vast empty sporting colosseum. Unbeknownst to all, there was much more pain to come for Melburnians.


2021’s saw a ‘gathering’ of 78,113 people at the MCG. A staggeringly, almost unfathomable amount of people considering what has passed in the ensuring twelve months. And yet here, and there, and everywhere they were. An almost endless sea of black, white, and red. (And rather amusing, a smattering of purple and green and teal from some very out place Fremantle and Port Adelaide fans).


Naturally, on the joyous post-match walk towards Flinders Street, I couldn’t help but snap a few quick videos of the bustling, bubbling mob to send to – hopefully – jealous friends aboard.


The guttural roar that followed the pre-match ceremonies was something to behold. A surreal explosion of sound that emerged from nowhere and came to just as abrupt an end, as if those in attendance weren’t entirely sure of the legality of their ‘gathering’. Nonetheless, it didn’t take long for the crowd to find – and keep – their voice once the game began. After all, one of the great joys in footballing life is mindlessly screaming ‘BALL’ alongside fellow supporters the instant a player is tackled.


The Magpies fast start had the Collingwood faithful daring to dream, with three goals in as many minutes. After this faltering start however, the Bombers quickly began to gain the ascendancy. It wasn’t a pretty game though. Essendon’s endeavours were halted by their complete inability to take grabs inside-50, whereas Collingwood frequently found themselves undone by truly dismal disposal.


Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti was proving to be the difference in class that ensured Essendon remained in touch, with his sensational snaps atoning for some disappointing inaccuracy from others. He even left Magpies fans suffering flashbacks to ’79 when he gathered the ball near (or over, if you’re black-and-white leaning) the boundary line to snap truly for this third goal.


Darcy Cameron did his level best to hand the Magpies a tight lead throughout much of the first half, covering impressive ground and snagging pack marks. His 22 touches, 10 marks, and 3.1 kept the Pies well and truly in the running – despite his side being out-pressured for large swathes of the game. If anyone was hard done by in the ANZAC Day voting it was Cameron. Mind you, his miss from almost directly in-front late in the third quarter was truly heart-breaking for the Magpies and cost him dearly in that regard.


Of course, the circuit breaker proved to be among the least likely – at least in my mind: Two-Metre Peter. It’s a running punchline with my brother – who was also in attendance – that he’s consistently mediocre, and every good deed is undone soon after by a brain fade of monumental proportions. So, when he kicked his first– and celebrated heartily – it seemed like the passion was aimed directly at me. (I may or may not have rated his chances as infinitesimally tiny prior to his kick, so you might argue it was warranted).


Later, when he grabbed a mark deep in the pocket in the fourth quarter my tune had changed. There was simply no chance he was ever going to miss. Lo and behold his goal saw the margin blow out to 18 points, and the Pies’ charge was done. 16 touches, 10 marks, 11 hit-outs, and 2 goals was his eventual return.


Side-Note: In an alternate universe where Darcy Parish doesn’t exist, and Wright’s efforts earned him the best-on nod, Nathan Buckley delivered a post-match spray for the ages. “I’ve got three words for you. Peter. F***ing. Wright. I can handle ‘Tippa’ kicking 5. I can handle Zerrett getting 34 touches. But Peter Wright?!”


Speaking of Darcy Parish, as has been pointed out by every media pundit worth their salt (and a few who aren’t), he was exceptional. 42 touches, 9 clearances, 9 score involvements, 7 inside-50’s, 2 goals (and 619 metres gained, for those fans of the current ‘in vogue statistic’). His move into the midfield covered the obvious gaps that have been caused by Shiel’s absence and made up for a middling game from Andrew McGrath. His ability to crash packs, grab the contested ball, and set-up countless forward forays was undeniably one of the key differences between the sides.


Somewhat amusingly, the first trickle of supporters to leave in the rows and bays surrounding my vantage point occurred at the 14 minute mark of the last quarter – with the Bombers leading by 14 points. Once the margin ‘ballooned out’ to a sufficient size, thousands of fans – both Magpies and Essendon – beat a hasty retreat.  It seems that COVID-19 habits die hard.


Pre-COVID-19 habits die harder though. Let’s aim for 100 000 in 2022, shall we?



ESSENDON            4.4      8.7    11.10     16.13 (109) 
COLLINGWOOD    4.1     8.1      11.5        13.7 (85)


McDonald-Tipungwuti 5, Wright 2, Parish 2, Snelling 2, Phillips, Smith, Laverde, Redman, Stringer
Cameron 3, McCreery 3, C.Brown, Moore, Grundy, Hoskin-Elliott, Crisp, Ruscoe, Mihocek


Parish, McDonald-Tipungwuti, Merrett, Heppell, Wright, Laverde, McGrath
Crisp, Cameron, Pendlebury, Grundy, Quaynor, Daicos


Francis (ankle)
Collingwood: Nil


Zaharakis (replaced Francis)
Collingwood: T.Brown (unused)


Crowd: 78,113 at the MCG




The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in the coming weeks. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order right now HERE



To return to the  home page click HERE


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.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.


Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE




About Sam Laffy

Thirty-something 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.....


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Great result for the Bombers! Peter Wright was brilliant after half-time with his telling marks and goals.

  2. Was he ever! As mentioned above I certainly didn’t expect that output from him. (Mind you, he’s got big Shaun McKernan vibes about him in terms of not being able to string together a lot of good games – let’s hope he breaks that mould!)

Leave a Comment