The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 20 – Essendon v Carlton: Fev, Ratten and Makybe

The first printed edition of The Footy Almanac came out in 2007, before we had a website. In the absence of a real 2020 season, we will be publishing the 2007 pieces for the first time ever on Follow the season!



Essendon versus Carlton

2.10pm, Saturday, August 18

Melbourne Cricket Ground



ON FACE VALUE, SATURDAY SEEMED the perfect Melbourne footy day. Thomas, my 10-year-old, and I started with a walk to Flemington Primary School to watch Auskick. All was well there. A sausage sizzle, the Parents versus Kids finale to their season (though, as a portent for the afternoon, the oldies weren’t as red hot as they could have been) and, aptly, the best midfielder in the game kitted out in a West Coast Eagle jumper.


After a study of the Liston Stakes form, it was off to a crisp and sunny MCG for the Dons and the Blues. As has so often been the case, a seesawing match led to a tight finish. Home for footpath kick-to-kick, dinner with Before the Game, and on to the couch for Saturday Night Football.


Scratch the surface, however, and this was not the fulfilling sportsfest that it would seem. I have watched Carlton a fair bit recently and seen positive signs. As a conspiracy theorist, I remember being underwhelmed before, during, and after Makybe Diva’s third Melbourne Cup, sensing that greater forces were skewing the race and hence lessening it as a contest.


The day before this match, Brett Ratten, Carlton’s caretaker coach withdrew his bid for the vacant Melbourne coaching job and was widely understood to have been assured of his permanent appointment at the Blues. What a great relief for him! Now there was no added pressure to establish his credentials by winning. Indeed his hand would be strengthened (by ensuring two very high draft picks) if Carlton continued to lose.


Footballers and fans, though, are highly competitive beasts, and these two sides have developed a well-documented rivalry during the Sheedy years, highlighted for the Dons by the Neale Daniher game at Princes Park in 1981 and repaid with interest when Fraser Brown’s tackle in the 1999 Preliminary Final halted Essendon Premiership aspirations. The enmity was displayed on Carlton’s banner:


Onya Kev/ Loved ya work/ Never mind the 1/ That got away. Again, though, the focus was beyond this match. On a perfect footy day, Thomas and I had decided that the best prospect was a shootout. We nodded sagely at the match-ups and motives as unknown Michael Jamison (or No.40, as we knew him) went to Lloyd and Bryce Gibbs stood alongside James Hird. Ratten’s focus on the future can best be represented by his refusal to change these pairings. Not when first Lloyd and then Hird were isolated in the goal square. Not when a Jason Laycock-fuelled midfield started offering the big skipper a chance to make an impact on the game. Not even when Hird went in to the middle and crept ahead of the ball, it being obvious to everyone that to regain control the Blues had to quell him. No. Carlton got invaluable experience into these youngsters and Essendon got to stay, however marginally, in the September race.


Carlton are still a conundrum. Fev had a shocker. Double and triple teamed, and given awful service, his greatest foe still seemed to be inside his head. Benched with a groin problem, his reappearance late in the match resolved nothing. Unheralded footy writer the late Mick Jones, once of The Clash, revealed Fev’s dilemma; “Should I stay or should I go now?/ If I go there will be trouble/ And if I stay it will be double/ So you gotta let me know/ Should I stay or should I go?”.


Lance Whitnall returned for this game, dramatically slimmer and determined to stake his case for a Blues future. Whilst his endeavour was excellent, the jury must still remain out. What his and Fev’s presence did, though, was allow Brad Fisher to play as the third tall forward, a role he played extremely well.


In a game of no midfield pressure, which resembled (poor) circle work, the clanger count seemed high. Both sides were guilty of poor disposal, but at least Essendon had some viable targets.


After half-time, Angus Monfries, supported by others including Adam McPhee, Jay Nash and Scott Camporeale, led a volley of charges forward to quickly reel in Carlton’s lead, which had reached 29 points. Even at that stage, however, when I stirred a Bomber mate, he simply laughed at how he’d tease Carlton fans if their side were silly enough to chuck away draft picks. The Bombers ran the game out; the Blues didn’t. In fact they failed to put sufficient pressure on their Essendon opponents in the dying stages when it looked like the game could be theirs.


In the end, the J.J. Liston Stakes was an appropriate study for our footy analysis. Last year’s winner, Pompeii Ruler, finished fourth. Mick Price, his trainer, “couldn’t have been happier”. His horse wasn’t “tuned and revved” because his time is later.



Essendon  2.1 5.3 12.6 18.10 (118)

Carlton  4.5 8.8 11.11 16.12 (108)



Essendon: Lloyd 6, McPhee, Monfries 2, Lovett, Laycock, Reimers, Lucas, M. Johnson, McVeigh, Hird, Lovett-Murray.

Carlton: Fisher 4, Lappin, Betts 2, Bannister, Whitnall, O’hAilpin, Saddington, Walker, Murphy, Carrazzo, Jackson.



Essendon: Laycock, Monfries, Hird.

Carlton: Waite, Fisher, Walker.



Hocking (Essendon).



Farmer, Kennedy, Jeffery.



Laycock (E) 3, Monfries (E) 2, Waite (Carl.) 1.



Scotland (Carl.) 3, Nash (E) 2, Waite (Carl.) 1.






For more Round by Round reports of the 2007 season click HERE


Printed copies of The Footy Almanac 2007 can be purchased here.


2007 Footy Almanac

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