Dustin-Fletcher

Last week saw Essendon veteran Dustin Fletcher break the games record for the Bombers with his 379th appearance in the red and black, surpassing Simon Madden. However, on this round back in 1993, the then 17-year-old Fletcher made his AFL debut in one of the most famous draws in league history.

In front of nearly 50,000 fans on a sun drenched Saturday afternoon at the MCG, Carlton and Essendon slugged it out, in what would prove to be the highest scoring draw in VFL/AFL history. The Blues began the better, leading by nine points at the first change, but Essendon closed the gap and in a tight encounter edged six points in front with only a minute to play.

Carlton skipper Stephen Kernahan then marked and goaled to tie the scores with only seconds remaining. However, after the centre bounce Carlton surged forward, and the ball fell in the arms of Kernahan yet again with the dying seconds ticking down.

Unfortunately, the siren sounded with Kernahan midway through his goal kicking routine and he chose to pause and start his approach again. The pressure mounted on the Blues skipper with any score being sufficient to give the Blues victory. Famously, Kernahan’s kick sprayed to the right, failing to register a score leaving the Blues’ final score at 19.18 (132) locked together with the more accurate Bombers’ score of 20.12 (132). Carlton centreman Greg Williams collected the three Brownlow votes for his 38-disposal game, while Kernahan was the leading scorer on the ground with five majors.

Incidentally, this wasn’t the only time these sides met in 1993, with Carlton recording a narrow qualifying final win in the first night final in AFL history, before the Bombers had the ultimate revenge on Grand Final day, winning their 15th premiership.

As a postscript, Kernahan booted the winning goal one week later against Hawthorn at Princes Park and in doing so wasted no time in taking his set shot after marking. Perhaps this approach may have seen the Blues get home against Essendon.

Sticking with Carlton, in round two 1969 at Princes Park, the Blues posted what is still a club record score. They booted 30.30 (210), thrashing Hawthorn to the tune of 128 points. Carlton added 12.6 in the final term, but the bulk of the inaccuracy occurred in the second term with the Blues’ 18 scoring shots resulting in a tally of 7.11. Alex Jesaulenko is recorded as booting a remarkably inaccurate 6.12 that afternoon, while Peter Jones also kicked seven majors. For the Hawks, Peter Hudson kicked four goals from limited opportunities.

Coincidentally, Essendon drew on the same day in 1969, this time against Geelong at Windy Hill. The Bombers recovered from a 25-point three-quarter time deficit to tie the game. Barry Davis and Bill Goggin both topped the 30-disposal mark, while Bruce Waite was the leading scorer for the Bombers with five goals.