Controversy marred the ending of a nail-biting Anzac Day clash between Collingwood and Essendon, but it was a shocking moment after the game which will dominate headlines in the days to come.
The Magpies claimed a thrilling four point victory, holding off a dogged Bombers comeback in the dying minutes.
A couple of contentious umpiring decisions in the final minute left Essendon fans incensed, and when Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury was awarded the Anzac Medal after the game, fans didn’t hold back.
— AFL.com.au (@AFLcomau) April 25, 2019
Pendlebury was booed as he accepted his medal, prompting Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley to issue a stern reprimand when he took to the microphone shortly after.
“Shame on anyone that booed a champion,” he said.
“I’d just like to acknowledge that we are blessed to have an opportunity to play on this day.
“Thank you to the AFL, thank you to the Essendon Football Club and we as a football club are very proud of the opportunity to represent on this day.”
Swift backlash to Pendlebury booing
AFL fans were furious about the treatment of Pendlebury online, with many condemning the fans who called out during his presentation.
Strong leadership from Bucks. The umpires had long left the ground (although booing them off in the first place is ugh), so there was no need to continue the derision, especially during a presentation made by ANZAC officials. #AFLDonsPies https://t.co/tGRd5Hl7HD
— Chris Button (@BibbyBhoy) April 25, 2019
Whether the booing was at the umpires or not, how about behaving like adults and shutting up for 5mins when there’s a presentation #AFLDonsPies
— John Hunt (@JohnHunt1992) April 25, 2019
Booing and that stupid bloody chant.
Shut up, all of you and remember what you’re there for! #afldonspies
— Paul White (@Tigerwhite1977) April 25, 2019
— Katie. (@KateEmily21) April 25, 2019
Pendlebury racked up 38 touches in a dominant display.
The Magpies led all day, by as much as 33 points in the second quarter, but had to hold on grimly in the face of a late surge by the Bombers to score a thrilling 10.13 (73) to 10.9 (69) win in front of 92,241 fans.
Players on both sides ran themselves to the point of exhaustion in the enthralling encounter packed with big moments.
The Pies led by nine points heading into the final term, but Joe Daniher’s fourth goal made it a three-point game with five minutes left.
Callum Brown had the chance to seal the deal with a set shot right in front but pushed his shot wide.
Essendon went long with the resulting kick-in but the play was broken up in the midfield, leaving Collingwood to celebrate their fourth win of the season.
Pendlebury led the way with 38 possessions, with Adam Treloar (30), Steele Sidebottom (24) and Dayne Beams (28) important.
Dylan Shiel amassed 34 disposals in his first Anzac Day clash, with Zach Merrett (30) and Dyson Heppell (28) influential.
The nail-biting finish wasn’t on the cards early, with Essendon starting slowly.
The Bombers, an attacking force to be reckoned with across a three-game winning run going into the clash, couldn’t find a way past the Pies in the first term.
Pendlebury and Sidebottom were everywhere as Nathan Buckley’s men denied Essendon space to run through the corridor.
Collingwood’s 23-point lead blew out to 33 when Mason Cox bagged his second goal of the second term.
It was hard to see a way back for Essendon but Heppell, who managed just three touches in the opening quarter, was instrumental in a crucial late surge.
Jake Stringer kicked his second and Daniher booted two majors, including a team-lifting long bomb after the siren, to slash the margin to 21 at halftime.
The Bombers leg speed appeared to be getting on top as the margin narrowed in the third, but with Devon Smith limping to the bench early in the final term, the Bombers couldn’t get their noses in front.