Why it pays to be optimistic!

It was 2009 when I was first mesmerized by the fierce rivalry that was commonplace at Essendon and Hawthorn games. I was 9 and sitting in the third tier of the MCG watching Essendon and Hawthorn slug it out for the last position in the finals. Essendon were in the position to make the finals for the first time since 2004 while Hawthorn were looking like the first reigning premiers to miss the finals the following season in a long time. Hawthorn was up by 22 points in the third quarter and I was very despondent looking from my vantage point three rows from the top of the MCG. Suddenly after the stoppage Matthew Lloyd crunches into Brad Sewell knocking him out and turning the momentum of the game in our favor. Everyone was at each other’s throats except for Brad Sewell who understandably couldn’t get into the fistfight. I was enthralled; enthralled at the contest and enthralled at the passion on display (even though you can’t see that much from the third tier of the Southern Stand!) We ended up winning the game by 17 points and I still remember the roar that went up when the siren sounded as it made me cover my ears as the cheering reverberated around the stadium.

Cut to the present 12th of April 2015

As we were playing Hawthorn this weekend, I didn’t see much point in watching us get slaughtered. Call me a pessimist, but we were 41 points up against the Swans last week and we were run down in the last quarter. I had a feeling that without the preseason match practice because of the provisional AFL suspensions, this would happen often during the season. Hawthorn on the other hand thrashed Geelong last week and looked every bit as the menacing and powerful team that they were last season. Surely Hawthorn would give us a reality check in the last quarter again? I even committed the mortal sin of picking Hawthorn to beat Essendon in my tips! A decision that I would later regret!

However, this year was the anniversary of our back-to-back premiership triumphs against the Hawks and without the burden of the drugs scandal encapsulating our players; we were playing entertaining and free flowing football. Our rivalry with the Hawks has made for some of the most enthralling and entertaining games in the football calendar. We always manage to make a decent contest against the Hawks whatever position we are on the ladder. The agony of last year’s contest was still at the back of my mind and since then the Hawks had only gone from strength to strength, while us Bombers were constantly frustrated by the supplements scandal and frustrating displays in the last quarter!

As Sunday was the second last day of the holidays, there were some loose ends to clear up. I needed to write a speech for the public speaking competition and finish my science homework. I started with the speech and quickly became thoroughly involved in my speech content and grammar. It was only when I reached the so called “writers block,” that I decided to check the score. To my absolute shock, we were ahead at quarter time! At least we showed that we were competitive for some time I thought to myself, waiting for the inevitable Hawthorn fight back that has made them the team to beat these last couple of years.

My writing wasn’t as productive after that, as I would check the score every five minutes. As we piled up the goals in the second quarter, I was sitting stunned! How could this be happening? To be honest, Essendon and I were in dreamland. The only sour note of the quarter was the fact that Hawthorn pulled back two late goals.

I took a break for a while, got caught up in my book and missed the whole third quarter. Realizing that I could be missing out on one of the greatest Essendon wins in recent history, I went back to my computer to check the score. The gap which had been 35 points before half time, was now dead level. I screamed with frustration as the Hawks surged, kicking the next three goals of the quarter. With two minutes to go, I resigned myself to defeat. However, Essendon had other ideas. My screen flashed that we were four points behind. I dared to dream as we had 90 seconds to win the match. Suddenly without warning, we were in front!

The following 60 seconds were hectic. I raced towards the TV and with a speed that Usain Bolt would have envied! I turned on the TV to frantic scenes; 5 seconds to go when Rioli launched a long ball into the 50, I was tense enough as it was, but when Hawthorn got the crumb with 2 seconds to go, I was out of my seat shouting at the umpires for the siren! Finally it went, just as Hawthorn was going to kick the winning goal. I collapsed to the coach in sheer relief.

We had won and I wondered what could have been with my footy tips!


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