Round 6 – Essendon v Collingwood: Joy in the Ponsford Stand



The post game happenings during the presentation has taken the attention away from what was a fantastic game of football. The early Collingwood dominance, the Essendon comeback and some brilliant individual performances in front of a massive crowd on a glorious Melbourne day was a wonderful advertisement for Australian football. The 120 minutes of quality sport deserves it’s dues.


Parking at my brother in laws’s house in Yarraville, we take the unfamiliar Sunbury Line to the city. As expected, it’s an Essendon train coming from that part of suburbia. We strike up a conversation with a father and a son who turn out to be really nice people despite their black and red attire. Passionate about their local footy and cricket club. The father mentions a 3 hour chat he had with Scott Pendlebury on a plane trip, and how nice a bloke the Magpie skipper was. Always nice to hear those stories.


The ANZAC Day pre-game is always a wonderfully moving event. The eeriness of a silent MCG, the haunting Last Post. I think it’s wonderful we now get the New Zealand national anthem as well as our own. Birds of Tokyo were very good, I don’t mind a band playing early in the day, it’s the constant recorded music blaring out over the speakers during any gap in the pre-game that I find more out of place on an occasion like ANZAC Day.


Pendles is in the thick of it early, 4 possessions in the first minute or so. Collingwood have all the early play, the pace is frentic, scoring is tough. Mihocek kicks our first. Stringer replies for Essendon. Despite totally dominating the play in the first term, and having 9 scoring shots to 1, the lead is just 23 points at the first change.


Some 19 minutes into the second quarter, the Magpie lead is out to 33 points. A huge goal from well outside 50 after the siren from Joe Daniher sees the margin down to 15 points at half-time. Would all of Mason Cox’s 211 centimetres have been more beneficial on the goal line than on the mark at that stage?


The game tightens. Essendon’s pace worries us. It’s their home game, they outnumber us in the stands and are raising the roof. Goals become increasingly harder to find. Essendon kick the first of the last quarter from a contentious free to Baguley. De Goey snaps a reply. With 6 minutes left the impressive Daniher puts one through and it’s back to 3 points. Last season’s Grand Final disturbingly rears it’s ugly head in my mind as we struggle to hold the lead late in a big game. There’s turnovers and tackles and tension. We hold on. There’s still plenty of joy mixed in with copious amounts of relief in the Ponsford Stand.


What a game. Essendon are very much on the up and will be a tough team to beat. Our conversion needs improving, but this is nothing new. The Joe Daniher v Darcy Moore battle was a eminently engaging contest between two magnificent athletes. Daniher always looked dangerous and damaging with his four goals but Moore also won several contests between the pair and gave great drive out of the backline. A one on one contest worth the price of admission.


Howe and Crisp played great roles in defence, Grundy kept to his usual ultra high standards in the ruck, while Beams, Sidebottom and Treloar offered plenty of class when needed. Would like to see more from Varcoe and Thomas, Levi Greenwood doesn’t offer much offensively and Tom Langdon, a star in the finals last year, seems to be out of form and regularly making bad decisions this season. Plenty of room for improvement.


But it was the great man Pendles who put his stamp on the game. Dominant from the start. An epic final term where he controlled play. Barely a wasted disposal amongst his 38 possessions. An elite captain’s game. In the top 4 Collingwood players I’ve seen, who knows, he may top that list when the curtain falls on his great career.


As for the booing, it doesn’t bother me during a game, though don’t understand that players get booed just for being star players eg. Ablett on Monday. It used to be about the villans or someone who had decked another player during a game. Go your hardest with them. But booing at the presentation on ANZAC Day looked and sounded really poor by the Bomber fans. Driving home I heard Essendon fans on the radio trying to justify it by saying they were booing the umpires. Who they had already booed and had left the field. Yeah right. It reminded me of when Shane Watson was booed when going up to collect his winners medal at the 2015 cricket World Cup final at the MCG. There’s a time and a place, and respect needs to be given at certain times. In the Bomber fans defence, I’m not sure all Collingwood fans would have been better in the same situation. Hopefully after this and Bucks’ statement, we will be.


Both teams benefited from ordinary decisions at times. Baguley’s free and goal should have been a free to Langdon. In no way was Grundy’s tackle on Guelfi that gifted Essendon a goal a push in the back. The holding the ball rule was wildly inconsistent all day, Darcy Moore especially cruelly penalised in the 3rd quarter for holding the ball when he got boot to ball. If only we’d kicked straight early and made it all a non issue.


We sat in a magnificent stadium, saw a wonderful game, 92,000 people enjoying our indigenous game without segregation in our country where we are largely free to do whatever we want. Lest We Forget.


Go Pies.


ESSENDON 1.0 5.3 8.6 10.9 (69)
COLLINGWOOD 4.5 7.6 9.9 10.13 (73)


Essendon: Daniher 4, Baguley 3, Stringer 2, Guelfi
Collingwood: Cox 2, De Goey 2, Mihocek, Thomas, Stephenson, Hoskin-Elliott, Adams, Sidebottom


Essendon: Shiel, Merrett, Hurley, Saad, Stringer, Daniher
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Grundy, Howe, Crisp, Beams, De Goey, Moore


UMPIRES: Stephens, Hosking, Ryan


OFFICIAL CROWD: 92,241 at the MCG


3.Scott Pendelbury
2.Brodie Grundy
1.Jeremy Howe

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134


  1. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Terrific report, Luke. My nerves are still jangling !
    I would rate that as our best win so far this season. When you consider the crowd, the occasion and Essendon, with Daniher back, are realistically, a top 6 side.
    The fact that we didn’t play well for 3 quarters and got up to win a close one is important to that group, especially after the way we lost the GF, as you point out.
    Ambivalent about the booing. Thought Bucks got sucked in a bit and drew unnecessary heat on himself, the club and Pendles.
    Good to see Hoskin-Elliott back. Will be better for the run. Elliot in for Thomas next week. Not sure if we can afford to carry Varcoe, Greenwood and Brown every week. Go Pies !!

  2. Dave Brown says

    Sounds like a gripping game Luke, well done. Would love the see the AFL do a few things to help out the umpires. First off, have some games where the umpires are wearing some sort of body cam so fans can see what it’s like in a congested field where they don’t have the benefit of sitting above/outside the play to see what’s going on. It might turn the conversation more towards positioning as well which would be a good thing. Secondly, re-have that conversation about professionalisation of the top tier of umpires. Thirdly, make the rules and interpretation guidance available for people. Granted few would avail themselves of the opportunity to actually learn the rules but they’re not even being given that opportunity at the moment.

    And as for the booing, I do worry about the proportionality of it all. You don’t need many booers to be clearly heard even in a stadium as large as the MCG. Say 500 people booed Pendlebury yesterday (I have no idea how many did), that’s 1% of the Essendon supporters that attended. I don’t believe they are worthy of such attention.

  3. Most certainly a great game of Aussie rules footy. Pity there was only 1 winner – a draw would have been a fitting result for 2 brilliant teams. Even though the ‘Pies won the first quarter, I thought the Dons were unlucky with many plays and, with an equal share of good fortune, the scores could been closer.

    That being said, I always felt Collingwood would prevail as they seemed correspond well when the Bombers challenged.

    Finally, there seemed to be a high number of not friendly ghosts in the crowd with all the booing going on – disgraceful..

  4. DBalassone says

    Super report Luke. I had no issue with the booing. It’s an emotional game and I reckon all supporters are as bad as eachother. You have to remember the Dons haven’t won a final for 15 years so this game is like their Grand Final, so that loss would have bloody hurt. The only thing that surprised me was they hung around for the presentation – I couldn’t get out of their quick enough if that was my team.

    A couple of things: 1) you’re right Bombers earlier got two charities in front of goal 2) The Crisp tackle where everyone stopped, he clearly got a handball away – umpire actually made correct decision 3 The final play where Stephenson wasn’t pinned for holding the ball was a 50/50 for mine. The ball was rebounding like a pinball in that passage of play and as soon as he got it he tried to get rid of it – it was incorrect disposal but it’s highly debatable whether he had prior opportunity because he was pinned almost before he got it.

    Relieved to get the four points, our poor set shot kicking for goal let them back in. Whereas Jake and Joe kicked beautifully.

  5. G’day Luke. Watched this game the whole way through. It wasn’t the greatest spectacle on the TV though that can sometimes be misleading. The tension was high and there were quite a few flashes of brilliance, but it was all mixed up in a lot of fumbling and bad disposals. Maybe that’s just pressure? Having said that I was engaged the whole way through.

    the umpiring was incomprehensible. As Ross Stevenson said on 3AW this morning, the umpires are umpiring like lawyers. They have no feel for the game. But perhaps we shouldn’t blame them, perhaps we should blame the rule makers who instigate new rules like lawyers instead of like guardians of a free spirited sport.

    Pies were very impressive early. Still can’t quite work out how the Bombers got so close?

  6. ELIZABETH fryers says

    Another great report Luke you have a great talent

  7. Bang on with every point Luke.

    The game seemed as intense and pressured, if not more so than last year’s GF. That said, there were frantic passages where the umpires were on a hiding to nothing. Mistakes went both ways – I too was as surprised by the post game reaction as much as the fact so many red & blacks hung around seemingly to vent their spleen. I would have been gnashing my teeth on Jolimont station by then but each to their own. I guess there’s a recent history which goes to a collective’s acute sense of injustice.

  8. 1 As a maggot umpiring is at its lowest ebb ever imo how,Hayden Kennedy still has a job is immensely disappointing why oh why,ALL the umpires don’t bind together and threaten to go on strike while this STUPIDITY is in place re positioning get umpires back in the corridor and SIDE ON to the contest it just makes me so angry trying to watch the current incompetence including the ridiculous instructions given to umpires the sliding rule etc etc grrrrr ( I emphasise I mean in general as didn’t see the pies v dons game )
    The pies in with a massive chance in 2019 injuries will be vital thanks,Luke

  9. Best game to watch as a neutral for the year. Watching in Perth I was envious of everyone at the ‘G for such a big occasion and thrilling contest.
    I’m with Dips 100% about the umpiring. Thought Essendon got cruelled late in the game, though booing Pendlebury was ridiculous. I’d have been screaming as the maggots left the arena. I reckon they umpire like High Court black letter lawyers. No feel for the intent of the rules. In an era where there is no holding/dropping the ball or throw/incorrect disposal – it is all “move it on” like rugger. When someone breaks 3 tackles and takes an hour to dispose of it when finally caught – it shouldn’t matter if they get a toe as it hits the ground – it’s HOLDING THE BALL. Fairness says he had plenty of time. Fair do’s. When you don’t pay it and then pay that “in the back” in the dying minutes in front of goal – well I’d reckon the maggots had it in for us.
    Queries for Magpie fans. Treloar in big games/moments??? The legs go faster than the brain. Maynard needs to build a bridge and get over it. When he is still complaining six months later about the “block/shepherd” from Rioli in the GF, no wonder he is playing crap.

  10. Some interesting observations made there PB.

    The only player I saw trying to break 3 tackles yesterday (repeatedly) was Stringer. Generally speaking it’s sudden death. On the balance of decisions made I really don’t get the perception Essendon were dudded, and I’d like to think I am mindful enough to recognise when my own team has had a decent rub of the green.

    Treloar: yes he makes the odd blunder but I’d also table last qtr goal in the 2018 prelim final for the defence. Perhaps does his best work instinctively as opposed to when he has time to overthink.

    Maynard: interesting comment. Umpires seem to have been re-educated on blocking, that’s for sure. Coincidental, I doubt it. Bit harsh to say he’s playing like crap in any case.

  11. Luke Reynolds says

    Phil- no way can we carry Thomas, Varcoe, Greenwood & Brown every week. Hoskin-Elliott looked good for his first run back.

    Dave- surely there’s enough money in the game for more professionalisation of central umpiring ranks. The confusion over decisions makes for a hard game to watch, much like what Rugby Union has become.

    Fisho- we always seemed to do enough to stay in front, but those memories of the GF linger in a big game when it’s close….

    Damian- agreed, no way I would have been hanging around for the presentation had we lost!

    Dips- the Bombers got so close only because of our very poor conversion early in the game. Stevo may have a point.

    Lizzie-thanks again for reading!

    JD- there was many similarities between yesterday’s game and last years GF. Mistakes very much went both ways.

    Rulebook- the umpiring has been at a very low ebb for a few years now, not sure if anything has been done to improve it greatly.

    PB- The inconsistency in the holding the ball rule frustrates fans like nothing else. Essendon had a good run from the umps for most of the game, yet most only remember the decisions at the end of a close game. As for Treloar- yes much to prove in big games, though has done well in ANZAC games past and in the Prelim last season. Needs to back himself and not hesitate with the ball.

  12. I suspect the reason Rulebook missed the action of the ‘Pies v the Dons was that he was most likely at the Prospect Oval enjoying the MIGHTY REDLEGS extract revenge over the Roosters in the GF rematch. Once more I was so absorbed in the AFL I neglected to tune into the Redlegs.

    When I finally came to my senses I raced to my computer to discover the Legs were in control, finally winning


  13. Brilliant Luke. Pendlebury is among my all time favourites. He is so calm and unhurried in traffic you could use footage of him in meditation and yoga classes.

  14. Luke: I tried a few days ago to make a comment, but it just wouldn’t come up, so having another go. This was a great game to watch – especially from a neutral’s perspective. Very impressed by de Goey’s game this year – he just knows what to do and when to do it, without much fuss! And Pendelbury – well, can’t say much more than and others have said.
    Keep enjoying your wins, while they last!

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