ANZ Stadium Homebush, Sydney Australia.
The storyline leading into this round 1 AFL clash wasn’t going to be about the Sydney Swans and how they would perform after an horrendous 2014 grand final effort. It was always going to be about how coach James Hird and the Essendon Football Club would respond after being cleared by the AFL Anti-Doping tribunal. The response was sensational as the Bombers raced out of the blocks and completely outplayed last year’s runners up for 3 quarters. Unfortunately, Hird’s team ran out legs due in part to the lack of match condition many of his players had been unable to achieve during the pre-season NAB Challenge. 25 players from the Bombers squad were prevented to play in that competition and it stood out in the final quarters where the Sydney Swans overcame a huge 41 point deficit to keep Essendon scoreless and win the game by 2 goals.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the team that strove valiantly to redeem the reputation of a proud and successful club that had suffered in our opinion, the most unfair, biased and politically motivated agendas that hasn’t been seen on this scale anytime in Australian sporting history. “The blackest day in sport” was the christening mantra of the Gillard government’s ASADA push. Players, coaches and teams reputations didnt seem to count for anything. It was all about the big stick and cloud of alleged improper use of supplements and injection schemes. In the final wash nothing was proven. It was a disaster from start to finish. In the end the accused that had stood firm throughout some very rough going in media and administrative circles, deservedly came out on top above this scandalous episode that we hope never raises it’s head again.
To observe the faces of Essendon club director Paul Little and club legend and director Simon Madden watching from their teams race was gut wrenching as they tried to will their tired team over the line. Post-match James Hird put all things into perspective by stating “Watch This Space”. He was proud of his team and was extremely confident the Bombers would have a successful 2015 season.
SYDNEY SWANS 0.1 2.7 3.8 10.12 (72)
ESSENDON 4.3 5.5 9.6 9.6 (60)
Sydney Swans: Franklin 3, Tippett 2, Bird 2, Laidler, Jack, Heeney
Essendon: Cooney 3, Daniher, Colyer, Watson, Heppell, Melksham, Goddard
Sydney Swans: Parker, Jack, Heeney
Essendon: Heppell,Hurley, Cooney
Umpires: Jeff Dalgleish, Ray Chamberlain, Jason Armstrong
Official crowd: 23,274 at Homebush (ANZ Stadium)