Essendon & Hawthorn - Line in the sand

Another quality Robert Shaw article

" reputed strongman Campbell Brown"

love it

Line in the Sand. Hawthorn v Essendon Round 11 2004. Essendon’s version.
shawryanalyst Uncategorized May 1, 2018 6 Minutes


Kennedy’s Commandos were uncompromising and tough in the 60’s, especially out at Glenferrie Oval. Consummate ball players and two of the fairest players ever to play in Ken Fraser and Jack Clarke were often the targets as ‘Delicate Des’ Dickson went on a rampage. The 70’s saw the Essendon boys run into Lethal Leigh Matthews. Not pretty. The 80’s saw three ‘wars’ raged in Grand Finals where no quarter was asked or given. Great players on both sides. Both teams were tough enough to look after themselves.

In 2004 Hawthorn won 4 and lost 18! Since then, they have played in over 20 finals matches, winning 16 and also adding four premierships. Essendon has not won a final. The roles are now clearly reversed, but in today’s game a line in the sand cannot be physically drawn anymore. Hodge, Lewis and Mitchell have departed and in 2004 Essendon still had Solomon, the Johnsons, Welsh and McPhee to face up to Brown, Barker and Vandenberg. The Line in the Sand Game even has its own Wikipedia page!

The Essendon version of the line in the sand game is a little lower key than the Hawk version. Naturally, Kevin Sheedy was keen to keep Hawthorn down, but in all honestly, I had never heard him refer much to past battles. It was all about circumstances, given that Hawthorn were last and Essendon fighting for a top four spot. Little did we know that, in an hour, we would be literally fighting for more than the four points. We actually never saw it coming, but when it did we thought; ‘ok then,we might as well a have a piece of this too’.

Round 11, by this time, was a normal round of football. Essendon was sitting in 4th position, while the struggling Hawks were last under coach Peter Schwab. It was a normal week of preparation for us and a ‘business as usual’ attitude prevailed. There was no talk of Hawthorn battles in the past, with conversation purely focused on maintaining good form and holding a top four position.

We entered this game against the Hawks in 2004 having won nine of our last ten against them. We didn’t see anything coming and were certainly not prepared for anything untoward. We were confident and enjoyed keeping our old rival near the bottom of the ladder. There was the normal Sheedy banter in the build up, but I can’t recall any unnecessary sledging.

Apparently the Hawks had really had enough. Hawthorn captain Richie Vandenberg confirmed that he and reputed strongman Campbell Brown had been approached by legendary Hawk strong man Don Scott to ‘hit someone’. Brown certainly did, aiming for a 19-year-old Jason Winderlich who was left bloodied and wounded in the hands of the trainers. Brown would receive a four game suspension for his hit. At half time it apparently escalated when Hawks coach Peter Schwab told his players he didn’t want to see Mark Johnson walk off the field after the Essendon hard man had slung Robbie Campbell before the main break. With ‘Dipper’ and Dermott Brereton in the rooms the Hawks bristled. Dermott was whispering in a few ears. The pride of the Hawks, so fiercely fought for by Alan Jeans’ great teams, was on the line. Meanwhile, oblivious to all this, Sheeds continued to talk about our game and how we could increase our five goal advantage.

Then it erupted.

Luke Hodge was 19 and in his 35th game. Also playing that day was a 21-year-old Sam Mitchell.

“We had a horrendous run against Essendon, they beat us ten times in a row I reckon,” Mitchell said. “Then it got to a stage mid-2004, they used to physically beat us up and we tried to make a stand. “They still flogged us on the scoreboard, but the next time we played them they beat us by three points and after that we had 10 wins in a row. “That’s probably the main one that sticks in my mind – just the fact that it was a stage where we said we’ve had enough”.

Sitting in the coaches’ box we accepted the fired up Hawks and the level of animosity after half time. When the brawl erupted, we became frustrated in the box that we would lose our focus on winning the four points. It was an intense and aggressive melee with no players holding back, but we were pretty confident that the boys could look after themselves. However, we were still angered by the Winderlich incident from earlier in the game. Blokes were going toe to toe, face to face…all good, but we could not accept the cheap shot, which had caught the youngster off guard, as he ran to the interchange……unprotected!


Sheeds reacted by sending out two messages via the runner.

Get even with Brown for the hit on Winderlich…and….wait for it….
Play the ball.
The runner delivered the message, but said the players were confused, and sent the message back!

“Which message do you want carried out first?” they asked!!!

Playing the ball amidst all the chaos seemed to work as Essendon went on to score 9.3 to 2.3 in the quarter, finally winning the game by 74 points. In total, 18 players from both sides faced the tribunal and a massive $70,700 in fines were handed out.

Both teams struggled for the remainder of the season. Hawthorn did not win another match until round 19, and finished the season with four wins. We would qualify narrowly for the finals, going on to defeat Melbourne in the first elimination final, before being knocked out by Geelong the next week. The fallout between Essendon and Hawthorn continued until the end of 2009 when Essendon captain, Matthew Lloyd, delivered a square up for the Brown v Winderlich assault. Lloyd was very close to Winderlich and he waited 5 years!

The infamous hit from Lloyd on Brad Sewell would see him incur a 6-week suspension. It was a bit more dramatic on the day with Alastair Clarkson having to be restrained by Football Manager, Mark Evans. It would also send Brown into a fury on the day and he would eventually describe Lloyd as the ‘biggest sniper in the game’. I’m happy to debate the sniper status of Brown/Winderlich up against Lloyd/Sewell. Maybe Lloyd’s penalty was that he never played another game.

Clarko is still there and its $1.10 it (the rivalry) somewhere in the week. ■■■■■■ competitor, he is!! He will want to put the Dons all the way down. Thats fair enough. No problem at all with that, so it will be interesting Essendon’s response. Line in the sand or build sandcastles?

It would be drawing a long bow to suggest that this game impacted on the future of both clubs, as there are many other issues to take into account. But there are facts. From that day, Essendon has not won a final while Hawthorn has played 20 finals games for 16 wins and four premierships. The line in the sand for Essendon has become deeper than the San Andreas Fault.

Essendon 24.10.154 Hawthorn 12.8.80

Goalkickers: Lloyd 7, Lucas 3, Murphy 2, M. Johnson 2, Rioli 2, Allan, Alvey, Bolton, Henneman, J. Johnson, Misiti, Peverill, Solomon

Goalkickers:Bateman 2, Everitt 2, Thompson 2, Williams 2, Beaumont, Hodge, Smith, Vandenberg

Best: Lucas, Lloyd, Solomon, Allan, J. Johnson, McPhee

Best: Smith, Hodge and Dixon

The old campaigners are well and truly gone. Replaced by Guelfi, McGrath, Mutch, McNeice and names in the Hawks line up like Morrison, Worpel, Cousins and Mirra. 1985 was over 30 years ago and 2004 was 14 years ago. Since then both clubs have gone in different directions. Maybe its time- philosophically- that Essendon as a club decided to have their own line in the sand moment. There is no need for violence any more. A line in the sand SHOULD be drawn with passion, commitment, attack on the ball, a love of the jumper and a willingness to be a great competitor. Personal and team pride. That’s more courage than fists.

Violence doesnt take courage; sometimes standing up on the weekend and making a strong, unconditional statement about what your club stands for, is the courage needed.

Word for the Day

Rhetoric: Language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect, but which is sometimes regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.

Talking the talk is over. Time to walk the walk

Robert Shaw 02/05/18


Can we just have a megathread for this guy. otherwise its the same article posted in 10 threads.


I would be happy with a violent line in the sand. Couldn’t care who gets rubbed out or for how long.


Kevin sheedy to come into the rooms and rev up the boys at half time after a shocking first half.
Essendon are down by 5 goals and playing bruise free footy.

Essendon then come out in the second half with a physical approach leading to numerous brawls.
We then go on to lose by 110 points.


But Daniher laughs and loves his footy.


You need to have the players to want to stand up to a physical line in the sand game.
Who we got?

Hooker could ruffle someone’s hair




I’d love our blokes to read this but I’m almost certain they won’t.

Great idea!! I just tweeted that to Sheeds actually. Would love for the club to pull something like that!



Half way through the third term, Zerrett across half back playing a lone hand, eyes dart inboard but he frantically slices the kick off the left boot into the waiting arms of Bruest (THERE IT IS) who is peacocking out the back and waltzes into an open goal, putting the Hawks 42 points up.

Sicilly, Smith and some farking numpty like Worpel go straight across and give it to Zerrett who is too knackered to even push back. No teammate will be within 50m.

There’s your line in the sand.


Has anyone been in the essendon rooms before a game? Is woosha a rev them up kind of guy? It strikes me he isn’t

Worsfold is planning to take a slightly different approach. Instead of a line in the sand, he is opting for a head in the sand.


this be to real to me and my tea leaves.

He seems very calm to me. I do like a bit of emotional from the coach.




I heard he likes to give the players the cryptic crosswords from the Hun just in case they aren’t already completely confused. :wink:


Line in the sand; ■■■■■■■ in the wind.

Yeah line in the Sand game to break a streak of 0 losses v the Hawks…

LOL not with this group of players.

They aren’t that sort of group, bruise free football with a lot of talent.

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