Ugly Footy ( Essendon vs Port Adelaide)

For the second time in two years, we saw Essendon vs. Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium. Both came off close wins in the first round and both were eighth and ninth respectively. Last time these teams met, Port was up by 34 points in the last quarter and Essendon won by seven points. It is just a magical experience to hear the roar of the crowd when your team is down then they win. Let’s not dwell on the past now and look towards this game.

I love going to the footy. We only usually get to go once a year. My tennis tournament had just finished ( round of 16 and semi-final in the consolation  and it wasn’t a night game and luckily we weren’t versing Hawthorn, So Dad, Ed (my brother) and I trekked in the car, braved Southern Cross Station and got on the crowded bridge. Following family tradition, I got a “Footy Record” and then we went to get our tickets. We were surprised to find that we were four rows from the front. We got a great view of the match. One thing I noticed was that Essendon’s banner was new while Port Adelaide’s was mended and ripped. It foretold the day.

The first quarter started evenly and ended evenly with five goals and two behinds each.  David Hille snapped the first goal then got subbed off with a calf injury. Essendon though level, was suffering, their kicking was terrible and the number of turnovers was enormous.

Second quarter was level until 15 minutes to go, then Essendon kicked away to be leading by 21 points at the break. Courtney Dempsey kicked a ripper from the 50 metre line and Jetta and Stanton had a couple by half time. Essendon outscored Port five goals to one.

In the third quarter Essendon lead by 24 points at one stage. Port kicked two back and Essendon’s kicking took a turn for the worse. Jay Schulz kicked his third and fourth and Justin Westhoff started to get involved. Port’s midfield started to control the game and they outscored the wasteful Bombers in the third quarter to be within two points.

The last quarter was fought until late. Essendon kicked away and won by 25 points.  Jetta kicked his fourth and Hurley finally kicked his first. The crowd roared and roared whenever Essendon scored. The little kids in front of us held their ears. I remembered when the crowd used to frighten me, but then the siren sounded and I roared in relief – sorry kids. Still with only 34 000 at the game it’s going to be a whisper compared to the Bombers at The G on ANZAC Day when 100 000 fans roar for the mighty Bombers.

Essendon got three injuries out of today’s match with David Myers, Nathan Lovett-Murray and Hille getting injuries that will sideline them for at least three weeks, while Port young gun Chad Wingard got concussed. Essendon won ugly today and they need to improve a lot to compete against the top teams, while Port were lucky to stay in the contest and not get smashed. It was a victory but was not pretty.


  1. John Harms says

    Max, can I ask: how old are you? And what tennis tournaments do you play in? And maybe somewhere down the track you can explain why you barrack for the Dons? Sorry for all of the questions (well, not really). Thanks for your pieces. I hope the Bombers go well for you, and that your forehand cross-court has the bite of Andre Agassi.

  2. Good stuff, Max. I loved your line about when you used to be scared by the noise of the crowd. You took me back over 40 years to when my grandparents used to take me to the football in Adelaide to barrack for West Torrens. They used to go every week except when we played Port Adelaide at Alberton. They said the Port fans were ‘animals’. They were both pretty crazy barrackers themselves (I wrote a piece about them on the website last year), and I think they were worried that the Port fans would give it back doubled. I never went to Alberton until years later as a teenager on my own. I remember being too scared to barrack as loud as I normally did. I spent all game standing on the mound looking over my shoulder – to check if anyone was going to whack me. Thanks for prompting my memories of being your age. Keep writing.

  3. Ian Hauser says


    I went to Docklands on Saturday afternoon, too. I’ve followed the Bombers since the mid-70s, initially because of the influence of a girl and her family, but eventually they became “my Bombers” in my own right. I live in Queensland, so a holiday in Melbourne gave me the rare opportunity to see Essendon play live. I’ve seen them in Brisbane a few times over the years, but never for a win.

    It wasn’t much of a game, was it? I don’t think either team will trouble the premiership cup inscribers come September. Only the closeness of the scores kept it interesting – but so many mistakes!!!

    The highlight for me was watching Dustin Fletcher. He’s a true champion of the game, and “old age” certainly hasn’t reduced his effectiveness – a telling mark here, a good choice of disposal there, an important intercept to halt an attack, the knack of being in the right place at the right time. I thought he was the best player on the ground. He has that ability to be one kick ahead of the game which gives him an extra second to work out what’s the best choice of action.

    So, at last, I saw the Bombers win when I was at the game. I went away happy, even surviving Southern Cross station.

    Peter_B, when I lived in Adelaide, I barracked for Sturt – still do, sort of. In 1970 at the age of 17 and in the company of my older brother and his mate, I ventured to Alberton Oval for a match against Port. Sturt were reigning premiers and unbeaten at that stage of the season. We made sure we didn’t wear any distinguishing colours to identify us as Sturt supporters and kept a low profile generally. Port won. I can recall that “looking over your shoulder” feeling on the way to the ground, at the ground and on the way back to the car. We lived to tell the tale. In a small world, six years later, who should be sitting in the very first class I ever taught but Stephen Williams, son of Port legend and coach, the one and only Foster Williams! Stephen went on to be a club champion and premiersip coach in the SANFL, if I remember correctly, and can now be heard as a radio commentator.

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