What Essendon means to me on this day

The past three years of my life have been very eventful to say the least. I got married to an amazing woman who is my best friend and lover. My Father this day last year passed away suddenly and my deep passion which is The Essendon Football Club went through a sustained long period of hardship with some warranted and much unwarranted criticism. I also witnessed champions I have grown to admire and look up too that have been under intense scrutiny that I don’t think I could have handled with as much grace given the attacks.
The first time I remember my Father telling me about Essendon was when I was about 7 years old. He took me to Windy Hill as a little boy, I stood on an old folded out wooden bench he brought and I never experienced anything better in my whole life that day. I quickly realised they called it Windy Hill for a reason. The Hot Pies and excessive sugar jam donuts seemed to be better than anything Masterchef could produce. We were in the cheap area of Windy Hill as we never could afford membership back then. For us it was standing room only in the outer wing under the “Kevin Walsh Stand” they called it. My Father was a Pastor of a church and I had quite strict behaviour rules as a kid. Standing there in the outer wing I for the first time heard new and colourful words that made me giggle. It was a tribal relentless atmosphere and heaven help the opposition supporter standing by himself if we were 10 goals up.
I sensed my Dad gained a new passion for football once I started going along as it was a great bonding time for us both cheering our heroes like Tim Watson, Simon Madden, Ron Andrews, Leon Baker, Merv Neagle, Terry Daniher and Paul Van Der Haar. Every week you got to know the people around you and you felt a part of a huge family. There was the dear old man limping around quietly saying “peanuts” carrying a brown old canvas style bag. We had the usual raffle ticket selling to win a 34cm colour TV which would be announced at 3 Qtr time on the scoreboard. The familiar faces and sounds is what truly took a hold of you and you realise Essendon was more than just a club you followed but a loved extended family.
Kevin Sheedy was part of the atmosphere, what Sheeds would do today to surprise us was the normal conversation discussed. I turn up to a West Coast game and I see the Windsock is tied so the opposition have troubles understanding wind direction. I can then see our half back line playing up forward and to my surprise the plan is actually working. Sheeds loved making surprise team selections and promoting kids even if they weren’t ready. This developed even to this day a mad fan base that loves to see a young kids get a promotion or a love of strategising the game in terms of positional changes and tactics. This to me gives a clear reasoning on the excitement around the recent Melbourne clash where we played 12 kids under 40 games. We understood we may lose but the excitement from a historical fan’s point of view was greater and it’s why the term Baby Bombers has such a deep connection with us fans.
Most modern fans biggest regret is that we didn’t get to see John Coleman. To hear stories about the crowd moving from one end to the other just to see Coleman play is one of my great jealousies but also pride. We have a wonderful history with huge names like Hutchinson, Reynolds, Clarke, Thurgood, Fletcher, Burgess and Fitzmaurice. It’s a history even for a man born in the 70’s that is very apparent and cherished as the building of this great club donning the Red Sash.
In some ways the sudden move to a more professional game was hard for fans as you sensed a loss of that weekly community culture moving from Windy Hill. The club probably without knowing acted the same and we all moved slowly to get to the next level to compete with the rest of the competition in terms of facilities and professionalism. What we never lacked however was good men serving at the club and its strength always shined through in the character of its people.
There is more than enough written on the last three years and this is not the letter to address the investigation. To many outside the bubble of our club it may come to a surprise that I am immensely proud of the club on where we are going from 2015 onwards. I am proud that we will be out of debt in the next two years. I am proud we have the best club facilities in the Southern Hemisphere. I am proud that we have retained our playing list. I am proud of the loyalty and devotion of our players that will ever be in history a defining moment to confirm what courage and inspiration truly is. I am proud we have the 3rd largest sponsorship when logic and fear reporting says we likely should be close to last. I am proud of our Board, CEO and President for making decisions responsibly and with care besides strong outside influences. When I see us reach 60,000 members for the second year in a row I am so proud that community at Windy Hill I grew up on never left at 3qtr time when getting flogged but kept cheering as if we were 10 goals up. We are slowly getting up from the canvas and building again a strong tribal family to again be the club that Dad and I would be very proud of.
As I think about my Father’s anniversary today it reminds me you only have one family which you must cherish every moment through in good and bad times, stay strong together and the joys on the other side of hardships will come and we will celebrate success very well.

Beautiful CJohns. Thanks for sharing.

For those that still don’t get it…up there…is what makes a club great, and a great club.

Well said!!
Go Bombers!
Thanks to you C.Johns for your reassuring posts throughout this saga over the last 3 years. Without it many of us would be more distraught and lost.
We all need to stick together!! Thanks again!!

Great post CJOHNS.

Loved every word. Love the passion.


Wonderful. Go BOMBERS.

Lovely post CJ.

Beautiful post.

That is a privilege to read and I’m proud to be a Bomber too.

Heartfelt post CJ - great stuff

Lovely words, CJohns. Maybe send it to the club?

No matter what other people may think about the saga, we are a great club. This is proven by the number of champions we have produced and 16 premierships. Almost all the boys involved in the saga have stood fast and stayed with the club, which means they love being there. Despite everything, our membership numbers are still growing and we had the second highest attendance last year.

I love this club so much that my mood gets spoiled on the weekend when they lose, that’s how much passion I have for the Bombers. Being overseas, my only regret is not being able to involve my kids in going to a live game. Let’s stick with the club and see us rise to win another premiership!!!



It truly is a ‘family experience’ . Not everybody always gets along, shares the same views, buys a membership, attends games etc but we do what we can to each contribute in our own unique ways.
The Essendon Family is a ‘tribal’ thing with a diaspora of ethnicities, social, cultural backgrounds etc & all coming together to create our own sense of belonging & allegiance. Walking through the park-lands of the MCG along with thousands of other Bomber die-hards, chest puffed out, feeling invincible & filled with expectations of a great team performance.
But our Club is not just that. Its more, much more. For some it can be a fleeting weekend ‘interest’ but for many others it can be something that even contributes to their sense of self-worth, their sense of personal success as we all ride the ebbs & flows of every season.
For many of us our Club has also been a true family foundation - one that has prospered across generations of our own families - brought parents, grandparents & kids together in a wonderful way that can only be truly shared within the confines of those families.
Great memories of premierships, trips away, floggings, speccies, goals, punch-ups etc all shared with your own family.
The sense of pride one gets from growing up in an ‘Essendon family’ where parents or other kids all or mostly supported the Bombers is fantastic. It has been a wonderful ‘glue’ for our family in a myriad of ways.
But what is truly rewarding is being a parent & bringing your own child in to the fold, buying them a jumper, taking them to games, watching them find their own ‘heroes’ & knowing that the ‘tradition will continue’ when you yourself no longer can. That might sound a bit self-absorbed but I really have been blessed to grow up an Essendon supporter & I would recommend it to anyone!

I feel the same way CJ. My great aunt Amy until the age of 90 used to rock up with her mates at 8am to get a spot on the fence to watch the under 19s, reserves and firsts. For her the boys were family and look out if you said anything negative about ANY player. My dad and I used to do stats for the club in the Cookson Stand but I’d always try to get to the outer to hang out with the ferals, it was like one massive grog squad over there. And there was no excitement in the world like the Bombers coming home with the wind to the Showers Pavilion end - it was a complete frenzy. The strength of the EFC has gotten us through a few years that would have completely rooted most (all?) other clubs. And I’ll tell you what P!SSES OFF every other supporter in the comp more than anything is that we’ve stuck by Jimmy Hird through this. We’ve shamed them with our loyalty and you can still hear them bleating in the background because deep down they envy our unity.

Thank you for sharing this with us, CJohns. A very moving tribute, I am sure your Dad would be very proud of you.

Go Bombers!

CJohns you are a hero. In the words of Shirley Bassey , Nobody does it better.

Just regarding our Adidas sponsorship, I work with a lady who left Adidas last year, and when their GM resigned (nothing to do with EFC) she asked him what his hardest decision as GM had been, and he said it was to stick with Essendon despite pressure from Adidas international. Apparently he still wasn’t sure if he’d made the right choice, probably still isn’t…

I would have been standing very close to you at Windy Hill as a 14 to 16 year old catching public transport with my mates from the eastern suburbs to experience EFC home games. Regular supporters use to pack extra sandwiches for us, even for my mates that barracked for other teams! Very special place in my memory. I remember Walsh breaking open a pack at half back and running through the muddy centre and passing lace out to Merrett who turned around and kicked it goal post high from 50m. The supporters on the outer wing were too busy laughing and bronx cheering to applaud. CJohns - Great words and thanks for sharing.

Fantastic post CJohns, bravo.

Beautifully said CJohns… I remember standing in the outer too - fun days. I heard words that I had never heard before and wouldn’t have repeated , in front of mum anyway. Loved Windy Hill and the fantastic atmosphere during games, loved going there to watch training, talking to Sheeds and collecting autographs. Times have changed no longer the same… except my passion for this great club still burns deep.