The rivalry between Carlton, Collingwood and Essendon has been around for over a century; there is no love lost between these sides, who together have won a total of 47 VFL/AFL premierships between them.

But with all success aside, these three clubs are very proud; their respective supporters love to hate each other, and are left red-faced, annoyed, upset and angry at a loss to “the enemy”. But 2013 is shaping up as a three-way rivalry for the ages, with some key dates in this years fixture a first since each clubs incarnation.

Although Richmond often becomes a team these sides love to beat and hate to lose to, there’s something special about when any of Carlton, Collingwood or Essendon face off against each other.

To a Carlton fan, there is no better joke than one about a Collingwood supporter. For a Collingwood supporter, they love to rip into their cross-town rival for their salary cap debacle, and have enjoyed watching the bad fortunes unfold as a result. Essendon fans love to remind the Blues of 1993, whereas the Blues have the better win/loss ratio of the pair in finals. Collingwood and Essendon famously face off in the ANZAC Day clash, but what brings these two teams together is their common hatred for Carlton. And so on the cycle continues.

However, the rivalry in 2013 is arguably more hotter than it ever has before in recent times, and with a few key fixture dates to take note of, this season promises to deliver some serious “grab the popcorn” moments for mutual fans of other clubs that enjoy watching mayhem unfold.

It starts in Round 2 when Collingwood hosts Carlton at the MCG in a showdown for the ages. The once loved and cherished Collingwood man who famously said “I will never coach against my boys again,” will plot the downfall of the team he took to a premiership just three years ago. It’s the round in which a new-look Carlton line-up, headed by new coach Mick Malthouse, will take on the former apprentice in Nathan Buckley. The Blues pipped their arch enemies twice in 2012 and the Pies are out for revenge and have vowed that they will not lose to a Malthouse-led side for as long as the group of 2010 players remain.

Emotions will undoubtedly be running high and for the players who played in the 2010 Grand Final triumph, they’re insulted that Malthouse lied to them as well as crossed to the enemy. Eddie McGuire has also publicly made his feelings known and Stephen Kernerhan couldn’t wipe the smile off his face the day Malthouse was appointed as senior Carlton coach.

To add in a bit more feeling, if there wasn’t already enough, Jordan Russell also crossed to the Magpies in the off-season and would be a good chance to be selected against his former side, in which he came runner-up in the Blues’ best and fairest in 2010 before being out of favour with former Carlton coach Brett Ratten in 2012.

It promises to be the biggest showdown in decades between these two sides with pride and redemption on the line for Buckley and a point to prove for Malthouse.

We then jump to Round 5 when the much-awaited ANZAC Day clash takes place between traditional rivals Collingwood and Essendon in one of Australia’s biggest sporting blockbusters.

It was an edge-of-your-seat nail biter in 201, and it went down to the wire, with Jarryd Blair eventually getting the Magpies over the line with a diving toe poke that won Collingwood the game after a spirited fight back from the Bombers. The ANZAC Day clashes never let fans of both teams down; heroes are made, memories are created and the unlikeliest of stars step up to the plate and display an act of which supporters, coaches and players will forever remember.

Eddie McGuire famously said “Veterans will see the reason why they fought so hard for the Australian culture with two great tribes going at each other.”

The bone chilling minute of silence is a moment to withhold as the bugle player stands alone in the centre of the wide open MCG, the Last Post echoes – it is a moment in which one can only understand if they are present. An average crowd of 85,000 passionate and loyal supporters are still and silent as the football congregation comes together to reflect on Australia and New Zealand’s fallen war heroes, and pray for those currently deployed.

Collingwood has the wood over Essendon with 10 ANZAC Day clash wins whilst the Bombers have won seven.

When the Blues and Bombers step out to go toe-to-toe with each other in Round 11, the day will mark Essendon’s 140th anniversary as a club. It’s only fitting that the two teams that lead the competition for premierships, both with 16, meet on Essendon’s milestone date, especially considering Essendon’s first game was against the old navy blue foe.

It sets the tone for both the hero and villain, and only one winner.

Essendon Football Club is proud and passionate and will want to do everything humanly possible to make sure it can put away its enemy and honour the red sash in what is sure to be both a memorable and emotional day. It’s a day during which Essendon will remember all of its past champions; coaches, key figures and players of the club and those who are unfortunately are not with us any longer.

There will be nothing more embarrassing and demeaning if Essendon succumb to its rival Carlton on such a day, a day the Blues would love nothing more than to rain on Essendon’s parade and effectively ‘dance on their graves’ and wreck what is an important day for everybody associated with the Essendon Football Club.

The game will fittingly be played on the big stage of Friday night at the MCG, when these two teams will collide with only one outcome acceptable for Essendon – a win against the team they first played league football against in 1873.

All three teams play each other twice in the 2013 home and away season and each time they do, they will battle for pride and ultimately bragging rights. Perhaps it’s even more fitting that all three teams could quite possibly play finals simultaneously in 2013, which has happened only once since the 90s.

It promises to be a huge year for supporters of the mighty Magpies, navy Blues and Dons.