Imagine my disappointment when I discovered over the weekend that this – not Tigers-Lions, as I’d previously thought – would be the final Friday night game of the home-and-away season.
Friday night’s game between Sydney and Essendon proved two things.
One is that the Swans can’t be discounted. The other is that the Bombers can’t be trusted.
As a result of their five-point loss, Essendon sit in 13th position but still only four points outside the eight.
However, it now means Sydney is only three places and four points behind in the race for the finals in a very crowded field, and Essendon – who have now lost three games straight – will need to find something against Fremantle in their Saturday night encounter at Docklands next week.
Sydney will line up in a last-chance game against fellow cellar-dweller North Melbourne in Tasmania and it is hard to see the loser of this battle keep alive their finals hopes.
For the Swans on Friday night, Josh Kennedy played his 222nd game and matched the performance of Jim Cleary, a champion full back in the 1930s and ’40s.
Cleary received an eight-week suspension in the 1945 bloodbath grand final but went on to become a popular member of the World of Sport panel after his retirement in 1948. They currently share 23rd position on Sydney’s all-time top 100 game players.
Sam Reid also moved up the rankings, joining Bill Windley, Bernard Toohey and Paul Bevan in 85th place.
Bill Windley was another champion player and champion person who had the misfortune to already be 29 years of age when the VFL was established in 1897. Despite this, he played at the club until 1905 and amassed 129 VFL games.
He played purely for the love of the game and remained at the club after his retirement, taking on various roles including ball steward.
Among the Swans’ elite goal-kickers, Reid scored one goal and Tom Papley and Isaac Heeney continued their intra-club competition with one goal each.
Papley still holds a two-game advantage over Heeney, and his one goal saw him draw level with another 1905 player Dick Casey, about whom little is known except that he played in two losing grand finals but missed the premiership due to injury and died in the flu epidemic a few years later.
On the same total (93 goals) is Harold Robertson, the elder brother of famous champion Austin Robertson.
Irish recruit Colin O’Riordan kicked his first AFL goal for Sydney.
For the Bombers, David Zaharakis moved into the top 30 game-players of all time at Essendon, drawing level with Mark Johnson, the 2002 best and fairest who played at the club until 2007 but was released and finished his career with one year at Fremantle.
Elite goal-kicker Orazio Fantasia passed the 100-goal mark with the second of his four majors in the game, and finished on 102 goals, the same total as Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield but one goal behind Collingwood’s Jordan De Goey in the battle of the new centurions.
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti still remains outside Essendon’s top 100 goal-scorers as he failed to score a goal on Friday night, an occurrence that the commentators suggested was usually accompanied by a loss to Essendon.