Round 8 – Essendon v Geelong: Bombers steam ahead of the Cats

I bet this is the first time that a match report starts off with a trip to the country behind a restored steam train.


Yes I know that this was the Country Festival game at the “G” and I planned on being there, but it was also the A2 986 launch to Warrigal. The A2 steam engine had spent many years as a static display in Warrigal until 30 years ago, when it was sold to Steamrail. Thirty years of restoration, and today marks the first trip of this steam loco, and it’s back to Warrigal a farming community in Gippsland.


The loco performed magnificently, reaching around 90km an hour with a full load of passengers, and didn’t thousands of locals along the way wave their joy at seeing this engine roar past.


And the good thing is it got back to Melbourne in time for me to get to the “G”. What a day, two of my great passions, steam engines and the Essendon Football Club. Has anyone said that in The Footy Almanac before?


It was just after 7.25 when I arrived and as I walked past one of the “G” bars I heard a huge cheer. Collingwood had just been beaten in the last thirty seconds of their game. Not a lot of love in there for Collingwood I thought.


By the time I got to my seat the Dons had scored, not once but twice and Joey Daniher,  Andrew McDonald-Tipungwuti and Orazio Fantasia had the Geelong backline in panic. They fumbled, they spilt marks and their teamwork was a shambles. They could do nothing right, on the other hand the Dons were on fire so that by quarter time it was 6.2 to 1.5.


More of the same in the second quarter, any time Geelong looked like threatening, the Dons through tackling pressure and superior teamwork made them look like a country seconds outfit. I couldn’t find a winner for them whilst I couldn’t find a weak link for The Dons. At half time we had increased our lead to 32 points.


I expected Geelong to come out firing after the big break, but I was very happy to observe, not a lot had happened, they were bloody hopeless. They looked completely lacking in confidence, no one wanted to tackle or put pressure on Essendon. Not that I was unhappy, far from it, I have no objection to one sided games providing the Dons are in front.


So at orange break Essendon are 40 points up. Now I’m not getting carried away, I still suffer from a form of anxiety at these games. If the Dons were 12 goals up playing against 10 fit men I would still worry.


And what a worry the last quarter turned out to be. One of the dozen or so coaches Geelong have, must have said something that turned Geelong on. They started to play as a team and kicked four goals in a row. They were dominating, The Dons looked lost and tired, we needed a goal and one fast. We got one through Fantasia but Geelong got two more, so with heaps of time left Geelong were within ten points.


Essendon looked done, Geelong were running riot, winning all over the ground. If I had have been home I would have turned the radio off, but I’m on a seat at the “G”, I have to witness this tension and struggle, not good for the aged and fragile. Suddenly out of the pack Joey Daniher bangs through a goal from outsde 50 metres. Geelong still could have won the game they kicked the next four behinds from gettable positions and it wasn’t until Fantasia kicked his third that we had breathing space and I could sort of relax.


We hung on for the last few minutes and almost got another goal as the siren went. A great win, but what a nerve wrecking last quarter experience.


Essendon  6.2  9.4  14.7  17.8   110  defeated Geelong  1.5  3.8  7.9  13.15  93


Goals  Essendon  Daniher 5  McDonald –Tipungwuti 3  Stewart 3 Fantasia 3 Green 2 Hooker 1

Geelong Hawkins 4 Menzel2 Dangerfield 2 Horlin-Smith 1 Parsons ! Motlop 1 Stewart 1 Smith 1


Best  Essendon  Daniher, Merrett, Zaharakis, Hurley, Fantasia, McDonald-Tipungwuti, Kelly, Stewart. Heppell, Parish.

Geelong  Dangerfield, Hawkins, Taylor. Selwood, Guthrie.


Umpires    Schmitt   McInerney  Fisher


Votes  Daniher Essendon 3  Zaharakis 2  McDonals-Tipungwuti 1


Crowd  57,173  at the MCG



  1. “…. they (Geelong) were bloody hopeless”

    Pretty well sums them up Rod.

  2. Danny Russell says

    I’m troubled by what I’m seeing out of the mediocattery. From my vantage point (300km away, across a substantial body of water) they look like players who either don’t understand the game plan, or are unwilling to implement it.

    There is a worrying touch of the Blues-under-Malthouse about the rounds 6-8 Cats, and that didn’t have a fairytale ending.

  3. Stone Cold Steve Baker says

    Well done Rod.

    I was at the game as well, and I have to say that Geelong played like they believed that they could ‘flip the switch’ at any given moment and were happy with some pretty ordinary efforts.

    The last quarter showed Tom Hawkins and Patrick Dangerfield at their dangerous best, but from the Bombers’ perspective, the way that they persisted with the game plan that had them 40-points to the good at 3/4 time, when the pressure was on in the last quarter was an extremely pleasing sign. Still a long, long way to go but a big step in the development of this group of players.

  4. Glad you got to enjoy a Cats-Dons clash for once Rod.
    From my vantage point in Ireland, it was patently clear that the Cats had not come to play. Their hearts were torn. The poor lads were growing despondent, as this was their eighth game on the trot away from the beloved Kardinia Park turf. Irish ballads are full of such longings for the green green grass of home, and I admit I was experiencing similar emotions myself, far removed from the real world of the AFL and my big screen telly. Pathetically, my AFL Live subscription did not work overseas – travellers be warned – and I was suffering withdrawal symptoms, which required self-medicating in quaint and cosy bars. Amusing as they may be, Gaelic games just cannot measure up to the real thing, no matter how much Guinness one consumes. The Catters were understandably anxious to finally have a game at home this year, in front of friends and family. That’s what footy is all about – their form in rounds 9, 10 and 11 clearly demonstrates my point.

  5. Bert, I can think of worse places to be footy-less.

    I agree with you on the feeling of absence.

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