When the Band Stopped

After a week-long build up focusing on match ups, previous finals clashes, a 100 year long rivalry, finals ticketing dramas and the usual injury concerns, 90,000 people arrived at the MCG ready for action. You would think that such an attendance would be a glowing endorsement of the appeal of the indigenous code. With an NRL final across the road, Rugby World Cup on the box, media hysteria about blowouts and any other ‘pressing football issue’ seemingly taking the gloss off our game, the people were voting with their feet. My girlfriend and I had approached the ground through Birrarung Marr and we did so amongst a wave of expectation and pride in the respective contest and guernseys and it seems that the fans were approaching the ultimate sporting contest. We couldn’t ask for more…so God knows why we were given more….

The first time I heard the music was soon after I had scanned my tickets. My best mate, Mark, who we’d met (along with his lady) outside the ground turned to me and said ‘is that…..Onion Skin?’ Surely it was. The buzz of expectation and friends catching up pre-game had been replaced by a tune that had briefly broken the top ten in 1989. My initial thought was…awesome! The Bombers AND Boom Crash Opera in one day! Alas, as we approached our seats on the ground level in the Southern Stand we discovered that BCO weren’t wielding their axes; it was indeed an 80’s cover band. They say music can take you places, and I had just been taken from the Corner Hotel to Volt Nightclub in Werribee. (I won’t tell you which one I’ve been to more often…)

As we took our seats, Mark and I instantly settled into some pre game predictions. Unfortunately, the band made this slightly difficult…

“Who will play on Judd?”

“Not sure, I think Julia will hang in there. Though Shorten’s not helping”

“O’Hailpin? Yeah he’s not much”

“Shaun Marsh? Can’t believe they’re just playing him now. Geoff would be pleased”

“Blease? (Mark’s a Melbourne supporter) He’s not our worst”

As the final track concluded and the match began, it became clear that both sides were all fired up and slightly nervous. Goals that were normally a given were being missed, sublime half back flankers were getting chased down by ruckmen and players who usually have cool heads were making decisions that would Mystify both sets of fans. After a frenetic opening ten minutes where Time After Time it looked like the Blues would get their first goal, the Bombers put together a 10 minute salvo that had me believing that maybe…just maybe…we could pull off an upset. My Sweet Dreams turned sour however when the Blues starting going Straight Up the middle and putting our young defence Under Pressure.

In the first 5-10min of the 2nd quarter, it became all too obvious that we were the kid with our finger in the dam wall. Warnock had the Jump all over Hille, hitting it Down Under to Murphy who wasn’t Too Shy to kick it over the head of their small forwards who could run onto the ball. By half time, we were 41 points down and not looking like scoring many more. I’m pretty sure I saw My Man Hurley crying ‘What About Me?’ as another ball was kicked over his head. It’s fair to say this wasn’t the Thriller we were hoping for.

With the distraction of the 1st half over, the band was finally able to launch into their final set. As someone who was born in 1981, I’m pretty sure I was in their target demographic, but unfortunately I couldn’t tell you which tune they were playing. Mark and I soon settled into our analysis

“Geez we’re in trouble here”

“No thanks I’m driving”

“Reckon it’ll rain?”

“Nah, then you have to stand and wait for half an hour after the game, and it’s about a 20min walk to the station, and it’ll probably be pouring”

“It’s not too bad. As long as she sleeps on her side then it’s not an issue”

As the last pair of underwear was removed from the stage, the umpire was given the go-ahead to bounce the ball. Any hope of a shift in momentum was soon scotched as the Blues again lifted their game and proved why they were 3 games ahead of the Dons at the end of the season. Sometimes it is that simple. The Carlton midfield is a fairly well-oiled machine these days and although I’m sure Essendon were confident they could Beat It, it was pretty clear we were outclassed. Every time someone in Blue with a bit of speed got the ball, it was as though every one of them thought ‘Here I Go Again’ and off they went, Hungry Like the Wolf, ready for another major.

Let’s face it, it was a desperate day for the Dons. Being outclassed by a rival is never fun, and the Bitter Tears you shed in September can sting for a long time. The young guys were overawed, the older guys weren’t good enough, and our opponents were a class above.

Still, it wasn’t the most traumatic final I’ve been to. ’96 and ’99 will take some beating.

Though I’m sure for Blues fans it was Just Like Heaven.

About Andrew Else

Andrew has self-reported to this site as a lifetime Essendon supporter. He also played local footy for Lara and Melbourne Uni Blacks.


  1. Pamela Sherpa says

    What an ordeal for Essendon fans Andrew. Here’s hoping we bounce back next season

  2. Andrew, though I’ve been less sympathetic to your club elsewhere, I admire the fact you could muster a post from the wreckage.

    A bad day for Bombers.

  3. Cheers John. I think frustration and anger (at the Bombers and Essential 80’s) pushed me to the keyboard. Ambivalence doesn’t really lead to anything getting done

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