That time of year again

The footy finals began last night and I love this time of year. There’s a vibe, a throbbing pulse, even if your team isn’t involved. I got home last night dead-set looking forward to the first final between Richmond and Hawthorn. Tonight the Dees take on the Cats in a match I’m really looking forward too, before tomorrow the Swans play GWS at the SCG in a bit of a grudge match, and in Perth the Eagles host Collingwood. Fair bet I’ll be glued to the screen for most of that.

Richmond are the favourite to go back to back, and logic dictates they’ll probably play the Eagles in the grand final. For me, Melbourne are the big dark horse. They hit good form at the right time and finally broke through a crucial psychological barrier. They have the talent and on their day are irresistible. Their consistency has been an issue, and occasional flakiness, and though I rate Goodwin, I think some of their coaching has been too funky at times. I suspect most of those issues have been ironed out – the big query now is finals experience.

We’ll know tomorrow. Geelong are a seasoned finals team, and have some all-time champs on their list. They had two cracking games during the year, both of which Geelong won, both of which Melbourne should have won. Geelong go in with the experience, but they don’t bat deep. I expect Melbourne to win and will certainly be cheering for them. As my team didn’t make it I’m on the Dees, and I think they can go a long way.

While this has been building up I’ve been listening to a podcast about my favourite season of footy, 1993. There’s a pdcast about that year because they believe it to be the best year of footy too.

I remember it well because my team went from wannabe to contender to ultimate premier. It was a very even year of pure footy and high scores. There was drama along the way, and seminal moments, and in my recollection a series of close, thrilling games. It was also an era of great key forwards – Ablett, Lockett, Modra, Dunstall, Carey, and sundry others.

As an Essendon supporter there are particular games that stand out: the draw against Carlton when famously Kernahan kicked out on the full when he only had to score to win; the shoot-out against Geelong when Ablett kicked 14 (and Salmon 10) and we still won; I remember a cracking game against Fitzroy at the G when we won on virtually the last kick of the game. 1993 was the year when Sheedy famously waved his jacket after we beat the Eagles by a few points at the MCG. There was also a loss against the Kangaroos when we led into the last quarter before Carey – the best player I’ve seen – put on a show; and the night we absolutely flogged Collingwood. I watched from a corporate box and very merry it was. All that was before the finals.

We flogged the WCE at the MCG with Hird putting on a clinic. We lost by a few points to Carlton on a Friday night with a half a dozen of our best players missing – sorry to lose, but very encouraged too. The next game was the famous preliminary final against Adelaide. Down by 43 points at half time we stormed home to win by a couple of goals. What a pulsating game that was. I remember sitting behind the goals at half time almost resigned to the fact that we’d thrown our chance away.

After that we were never going to lose the grand final, and we duly flogged Carlton by eight goals. Michael Long was electric. Good times.

So, let me recommend it to you: The Greatest Season That Was ’93.

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