The comeback from 69 points in arrears by Essendon against North Melbourne in Round 16 of 2001 is widely regarded as the best comeback in football history, and the game itself is sometimes described as one of the greatest of all games ever played.
It is the greatest margin from which any team has recovered from to win, so in mathematical terms, it is certainly the greatest comeback in history. If you count the 12 points we won by that day, it was an 81 point turnaround.
I was lucky enough to be at that game – (and if you know where my reserved seat is, you can actually see me in the crowd during the telecast) – and it is a day I’ll never forget, but I have slightly fonder memories of another Essendon comeback I was fortunate to attend – on Anzac Day 1992 against Melbourne.
After an early goal to Melbourne in the last quarter, Essendon – (who had been thoroughly outplayed for the entire match) – found themselves 47 points behind.
At the three quarter time break, I had turned to my dad and said “we’re still going to win this” – he and all those around me just laughed, but it was only 30 minutes later that I was the one who was laughing:
Why did I think we would still win at the last change? Basically, at the end of the third quarter, Melbourne looked spent. They had smashed us all afternoon, but they looked tired. I just had a feeling it was on.
And it was, and the aftermath was insane. Complete strangers in Essendon paraphernalia were running up to each other and hugging. I remember looking up into the upper levels of the Great Southern Stand and seeing people dancing with each other in the aisles.
It was remarkable.
This video is actually something of a rarity – back in 1992 not all games were covered on television, and the footage shown here is just standard pool footage that was used for the highlights reels on the evening news. You couldn’t even buy a copy of the game on DVD because it wasn’t in the AFL archive, and I was never aware that this pool footage had been saved and overlaid with radio commentary from Geelong’s K-ROCK radio station.
It has been more than 22 years since that day, and this is the first time I have seen it since. It might not have been quite as large a comeback as the game against North Melbourne nine years later, but I’ve always felt this one was just a little bit better.
But they were both awesome, and I was at them both!