Some people hate Hawthorn and their robotic success. Most people hate Collingwood and their rabble army of boguns. I hate Essendon and all that they stand for.
In my early days of football worship, Essendon’s baby Bombers won a premiership. Every Tom, Dick and Barry who had a passing interest in football jumped on. Not real football people; pretenders. The sorts who will tell you why Timmy Watson is the best midfielder in the comp, yet have nothing but vitriol for Buddha Hocking and Greg Williams.
And the cocky bastards strutted around with a bullshit sense of entitlement. That premierships came to them, not through virtue or hard work, but mere existence. They didn’t know football, and they certainly didn’t know hardship.
They filled my classrooms, corridors and playgrounds for years.
Denis Pagan stuck it up them. He hates Essendon too. He told our boys tales of eras gone by.
Of Les Foote’s 1950 team, who made North’s first Grand Final, against the middle-class teetotallers from up the road. At the first bounce, 18 North Melbourne players swung roundhouses and sent the opposition to the deck. (Essendon won by 4 goals.)
Of Essendon blocking North Melbourne’s VFL admission in 1897 and 1907. Of supporting our entry in 1925, on condition of giving them our best recruiting grounds.
Pagan’s North Melbourne had a great record against the Dons. And Carey always saved his best for them.
In one encounter, several of Essendon’s supposed hard men tried to ruffle Carey before the opening bounce. He played ferociously, kicked a swag of goals and lead the Roos to another victory.
I recall listening to one of the best matches of football I’ve ever encountered. North kicked twelve goals to two in the first quarter against a dominant 2001 Essendon team. In one of football’s greatest comeback, the arrogant pricks reeled us in.
And then I discovered the events of 1921.
North set-up a merger with Essendon League Football Club who needed a new home ground. The innovators at Arden St had figured the newly merged entity would gain access to the VFL via the back door. Once the North superstars signed with Essendon – including star ruckman Syd Barker – Essendon reneged and found another oval.
A generation of quality players were lost, and North’s subsequent entry into the VFL in 1925 was a shadow of what it could’ve been.
Essendon supporters will not ponder these events while drinking their Coke Zero and discussing whether Jobe Watson is hotter than his father.
But I will.