Round 10 – Essendon v Melbourne: WOW (not good)

Saturday I hoped was the end of the hoodoo. We always lose to Melbourne in the middle of the season. I hoped it wasn’t going to happen again. Essendon’s performance last week was average and Melbourne pushed Carlton to three quarters last week. Jetta had come back from staging to give our forward line a boost. Fletcher came back but Heppell was still out with a knee injury. I was hoping for a better performance this week after GWS last week. Little did I know the drama that was about to unfold.

The weekend had started really well with a top of the table clash in tennis. We are top, they are second. It was going to be tough anyway but they had home ground advantage and with that a home surface that we rarely play on, synthetic grass. I was versing a guy who had a big serve on clay but with the grass surface it skidded a lot. I had to get used to his serve and find a way to counter act it. My strategy was that I just got his serve deep into play and rally with him until he made a mistake. It worked and I won six two. The rest of the tie was played game to game with us winning the last to win four sets to two. I was really tired because I had put my all into my game and I felt proud that we gained extra points on the ladder.

Flicking on to channel 7 for the Melbourne game, I heard the usual stories. Melbourne under pressure, Neeld still winless and desperate to silence his critics, Essendon in for the kill, Franklin 13 goals! I watched as my Supercoach went into lockdown as buddy 236 points and 13 goals rocked the AFL and Brad Scott’s kangas. Finally we are getting some goals from our big forwards not low scoring ugly footy. Franklin’s goal with three seconds left was amazing and his haul was even more remarkable since he was goalless at quarter time. Jack Riewoldt goals were a sign of Richmond improvement. They can win close matches! I didn’t think there was going to be any champion goals in our game though as Essendon doesn’t have a Franklin or Riewoldt. I rushed to my chair in front of the TV but the game had already started by the time I sat down.

First thing I saw in the game was the wet. Essendon never play well in the wet and the wet suits Melbourne’s game plan. Essendon’s boots weren’t gripping and the ball was slipping. Only Watson was playing well for Essendon and booted the opening goal. Howe produced a running goal to put Melbourne ahead. Essendon wasted inside 50’s and Melbourne stopped them with the extra man in defence. That also meant that Essendon had an extra man in defence whether they like it or not. Fletcher got heaps of uncontested marks. It was dull, old fashioned first quarter and Essendon ahead by a hair.

The Bombers’ play in the second quarter spelled D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R or L-O-S-S. Melbourne was winning everything. One on ones, contest ball, clearances and starting to play the way they had promised last year. I don’t want to talk about Essendon’s shocking mistakes or possession. I will just tell you that Essendon was being outplayed, outgunned and beaten at half time.

Credit to James Hird’s men, they fought back. Hurley charged like a bull, Melksham, Hocking and Colyer all kicked goals and I hoped that we would kick on from there. Then the mistakes crept in. Melbourne got back and Essendon continued to lose confidence and momentum. We had the lead at three quarter time but I wasn’t convinced. I slept on my nerves and hoped that we had done enough.

Sunday morning I woke up and groggily said to Dad, “Did we win?”

“We lost by six points Max”.

“WHAT! WE LOST TO THE BOTTOM TEAM of the competition”. Shaken, angry and surprised, I sat down to watch the last quarter. Garland kicked two goals and Essendon only kicked one goal. We didn’t break the hoodoo. Melbourne’s win was all over the news and I couldn’t watch as TV, newspapers and the internet said this was the biggest upset in five years. Mark Neeld was so relieved about his first win as coach. The Bombers now get rewarded with a tough match against Sydney. The only good thing about it is that it’s played at Etihad Stadium. I can only hope that we put up a fight and not get humiliated as we did now. I have to give credit to Melbourne, they played better footy in the wet and deserved to win. Bring on the swans!

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