Top 5 AFL ANZAC Day Clashes
The AFL’s annual ANZAC Day clash will be held between Collingwood and Essendon for the 22nd time on Monday, 25th of April. Whilst the media coverage around the event – notably the cringeworthy comparisons between fighting a war and playing a game of footy – often misses the mark, the game remains a fixture in the AFL calendar. All politics aside, it’s generally a wonderful and exciting game between two sides who always turn it on at the MCG in front of a full house of nearly 100,000.
Whilst the 2016 clash should be an absolute cracker, there have been some truly memorable games stage over the past 20 years that will be very tough to top. Here’s our top five:
#5 – 2001 Essendon: 15.13.103 def Collingwood: 14.11.95
BOG: Chris Tarrant
Every scoring shot counts on ANZAC Day, and both sides threatened to kick themselves out of the game in 2001. Eventual Grand Finalists Essendon triumphed over the struggling Magpies by eight points in the end, with their three extra shots at goal proving crucial after Paul Barnard sealed it with a goal late. Chris Tarrant was the ANZAC medalist, the only time to date that a player from the defeated team has been awarded it.
#4 – 1999 Essendon: 15.18.108 def Collingwood: 15.10.100
BOG: Mark Mercuri
Matthew Lloyd kicked six goals in Essendon’s first ANZAC Day victory. Whilst club favourite Mark Mercuri took the medal after a courageous performance, it was Lloyd whose bag kept Essendon in the game after nearly coughing up what was a six goal lead at quarter time.
#3 – 2012 Collingwood: 11.14.80 def Essendon: 11.13.79
BOG: Dane Swan
One of the most memorable games of the last few years in general, Collingwood stole the win at the end with a controversial goal from Jarryd Blair. Dane Swan won the medal with an incredible 42 disposals and three goals – though eventual Brownlow medalist Jobe Watson was also terrific with 23 touches and seven tackles as he bid to will his side over the line.
#2 – 1995 Essendon: 16.15.111 drew with Collingwood:17.9.111
BOG: Saverio Rocca
The first ever ANZAC Day game was one for the ages, with a draw being played out in front of nearly 95,000 people. If there’s ever a good way to establish a blockbuster, this was it. Both sides were as hard at the ball as could be, and there’s no debating that a share of the points was a fair result. Finishing at 111 all, our American readers may recognise the ANZAC medalist – Collingwood’s Sav Rocca – who kicked nine goals on the day and would go on to have a successful NFL career as a punter.
#1 – 2009 Essendon: 13.15.93 def Collingwood: 12.18.88
BOG: Paddy Ryder
David Zaharakis could have never picked a ball up again after 2009’s ANZAC Day clash, and he still would have gone down as an Essendon legend. His goal in the dying minutes of the match has already gone down in folklore, with the Bombers recovering from being outclassed through most of the day to secure a memorable win against Mick Malthouse’s Magpies. Essendon triumphed by five points, and the echo of “ZAHARAKIS” continues to reverberate around the MCG every time these two clubs meet. Ruckman Paddy Ryder took the medal this time around.