Round 9 – Essendon v West Coast: Unfamiliar Territory


Essendon versus West Coast

1:10pm, Sunday 21 May
Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

Tim Kemm


You know that feeling when you see a long lost loved one for the first time in years? For a moment you don’t even recognise them, but then it all comes rushing back and you wonder how you ever managed without them. As you embrace you are overwhelmed by all their peculiarities that for a time you had forgotten. Their scent, the tight grip of their embrace, their lopsided grin. You don’t ever want to part with them again.


That was what it felt like as an Essendon supporter on Sunday afternoon. In this case the long lost loved one is the Comfortable Win, an old flame that has frustratingly eluded the Bombers for quite a number of years now. I had forgotten that the football can actually be a pleasant experience – even relaxing. I was shocked to discover that there was more to my teal plastic seat than the edge. After all, the edge was all I had needed for the past three years.


As always, I attended the match with my dad. As usual, we were running late, still crawling our way up Alexandra Parade when Joe Daniher slotted the first major of the day. From a set shot, no less.  How novel.


It was the second time that the roof at Etihad Stadium had been left open in as many days which left me with the only logical conclusion that its retraction gears were broken. I was pleased at this as I hoped it would trick the players into thinking they were playing at the MCG. Our recent record at the Docklands is dreadful, having lost 15 of the previous 16 games there (and that solitary win was under an open roof).


It wasn’t until the start of the second quarter that dad and I made it to our seats, and the Bombers were already 29 points up. Three quick goals in succession from Daniher and Fantasia (x2) and the margin was suddenly blown out to a commanding 47 points. Joey already had four goals and was imposing himself onto every contest. He looked like a man who knew he could win games of footy off his own boot – and he was doing just that.


For a side that has struggled in recent years register high scores, Essendon’s forward line now looks potent. Daniher is in rare form and is well deputised by Cale Hooker and James Stewart. At ground level the mosquito fleet of Fantasia, McDonald-Tipungwuti and Green adds the kind of dash and flair that Essendon sides have lacked for over a decade. By half time we had registered 16 goals and held a 63 point lead. The second half was a mere formality and we come away with a 61 point victory.


We had beaten two ‘top 4’ sides in two weeks, but in truth the jury is still out on the quality of both the Cats and the Eagles – as it is for the Bombers.


Eleni Glouftsis made history by becoming the first female field umpire in VFL/AFL history. She did a fine job and will no doubt be the first of many.


The siren sounded and the Bomber faithful waved their scarfs with gusto. There is a surprising amount of history and animosity between the Bombers and the Eagles. They are no doubt our biggest interstate rivals and thrashing them is a sweet elixir.


We left Docklands satisfied and arm-in arm with that old flame, that Comfortable Win. It was fun, but I think we need to get better acquainted. A week is both the longest time and the shortest time in football, and I admit there was a sense of uneasiness about what lay ahead. The more you win, the more crucial winning becomes. At 5-4 in such an even season the Bombers are now knocking on the door of the top 8. Next week is the Tigers in the annual Dreamtime at the ‘G clash. It’s the kind of game that true finals contenders must win.


Essendon            5.2          12.8          16.10     19.11     (125)
West Coast         2.4          3.7            5.13        8.16      (64)


Essendon: Daniher 5, Fantasia 3, Hooker 2, Green 2, McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, Parish, Dea, Colyer, Leuenberger, Stewart
West Coast: Kennedy 4, Vardy 2, Darling 2

Essendon: Hurley, Z Merrett, Daniher, Watson, Fantasia, Zaharakis
West Coast: Kennedy, Vardy, Gaff

UMPIRES: Glouftsis, Meredith, Ryan

CROWD: 36,403

VOTES: Hurley (Ess) 3, Z Merrett (Ess) 2, Daniher (Ess) 1


About Tim Kemm

25 years old. Red, black and nothing else. Masters Student at Australian National University, Canberra (where every week is an away game)

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