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Round 8 – Sydney v Essendon: Who ya gonna call?


The call came on Thursday morning.


“John Longmire here…”


I was caught off-guard. Had we’d sunk so low that the club had been reduced to randomly calling members to see if they’re up for a game? I took stock of my body. A few weeks ago, I fractured my toe making the bed so working on that trajectory I’d probably do an ACL running through the banner. One tackle and I’d be stretchered off.


I was about to decline the offer but John was still going and to be polite I kept listening. In some ways what he was saying was even more baffling. Extolling us fans to turn up on Friday to cheer the team on. It hadn’t occurred to me not to go. The sad, grim reality of the Sydney fair weather footy market. A few losses and people drift off. Sure, it’s not been great so far but you just have to stick with it. There’s been tantalising glimpses of what we’re capable of. What’s required was the self-belief we could string it together for a whole match. But climbing the steps into the chilly sanctum of the O’Reilly Stand last Friday I wasn’t seriously expecting it to happen that night. The Bombers are erratic but with that stinging loss last week coupled with a pretty good turn of pace my sense was our ability to run with them would be sorely tested. None of those historical frantic nail biters. No ‘mark, mark, mark Rohan’ jubilance for us tonight.


If it was sane and safe to eat my member’s cap I would.


Mind you it wasn’t a great start.


I was rummaging around searching for a pen when The Enemy goaled.


None of us wanted to so much as glance sideways. The disappointment hung heavy.


The game resumed. Hayward and McCartin took great grabs but were unable to capitalise. The Enemy were testing our defences but we were holding up. The problem was that everyone was stuck in the back fifty so any exiting ball was easily picked off and returned. The umpires weren’t helping, at one point the ball was clearly carried out of bounds and it was play on. One for the ‘Should’ve gone to Spec Savers’ highlight reel. We got a run on towards the end of the quarter with goals to Fox and Dawson. I’m liking both, Dawson’s marking ability in particular. We just had our noses in front on the siren.


It was a more attacking Swans at the start of the second, playing on rather than sideways. Blakey squeezed his set shot in; the kid is starting to live up to the hype. Melican’s evasion came to nothing with a too shallow kick that was intercepted. The Enemy pushed us back. Hideous umpiring decisions went against us. Rampe took a saving mark, barely moved, was tackled and pinged, resulting in an Enemy goal. Hospital handballs were back in vogue. Say what you like we’re a very friendly and equitable team in that respect, sharing the trouble around. Heeney got us out to our biggest lead before The Enemy reeled us in. Only one point in it at half time but it was the most consistent I’d seen us play for a while. I tried to stay cool.


By the end of the third though I’d had enough of that. We could win this. The Enemy got an early goal but we lifted again thanks to Reid and O’Riordan, the latter his first ever AFL goal courtesy of a 100m penalty. Blakey stopped The Enemy’s skipper in his tracks with a great tackle. The Enemy were faltering, unable to make much happen and inaccurate when they did. Sinclair took a mark about 60m out on the siren but didn’t have a Bradshaw barrel in him. The game was close and we hadn’t faltered.


It started to feel like a case of over confidence in the final term. The Enemy clawed their way back, one point at a time. McCartin got us ahead. The Enemy overtook us. Reid’s mark wasn’t paid but Hayward had the smarts to keep going and goal. But we seemed to be on our last legs, The Enemy slipping through to find targets, desperately looking for the opening.


The last few minutes were heart attack territory. Blakey’s fantastic tackle was undone by kicking long and straight to The Enemy. They surged forward, a spearing kick leading to a mark outside the fifty.


The siren went. We started cheering. Then stopped, dimly realising they a last shot.


The Enemy launched the ball towards goal.


Surely not.


A collective drawing in of breath.


Released into a triumphant roar as the kick fell well short.


We’d won.


At home.


I lost my voice singing the club song.


Back home the controversy was raging about Rampe jumping up on the post. I’d been watching the kicker not the goal line so I didn’t see any of it. Clearly dodged a bullet there.


And now post win the questions return. Are we off the canvas? Can we sustain that sort of effort?


One thing for is for sure though. You don’t need to call me; I will be there.


SYDNEY      2.6   6.8   9.9   11.11 (77)
ESSENDON  2.3   7.3   8.6   10.12 (72)


Sydney: Dawson 2, Fox, Blakey, Florent, Papley, Heeney, Reid, O’Riordan, McCartin, Hayward
Essendon: Fantasia 4, Parish 2, Bellchambers, Merrett, Stringer, McKenna


Sydney: Parker, Hewett, Kennedy, Sinclair, Rampe, Blakey
Essendon: Hurley, Heppell, Merrett, McGrath, Hooker


Sydney: Nil
Essendon: Michael Hurley (ankle)


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Meredith, Gianfagna, Mollison


Official crowd: 26,502 at the SCG


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  1. Nice one, Tom! See you at our next game in Sydney.
    Cheer cheer

  2. Keiran Croker says

    Hi Tom,
    Another nail biter this week … great to get the result. And a promising performance from many of the youngsters.
    I’m coming up for the Pies game on next Friday, so will see if we can catch up. Though I’ve got tickets for over in the Ladies Stand.

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