What footy and Australian life were like when Essendon last won a flag

THE year 2000 was a topsy turvy one in the AFL thanks to the Olympic Games, an early grand final and a pre-season competition that started on the last day of 1999, but one thing was consistent through the season — Essendon’s dominance.

With the Bombers starting their march through the finals series this weekend, it’s a great time to look back at what footy and life in Victoria were like in the pre-social media, post-GST world of 2000.

How we played the game

It was seven years since Essendon’s last flag, when the baby Bombers trounced Carlton in the 1993 grand final, but Essendon in 2000 was almost unassailable.

Oddly, the 2000 Ansett Cup started on December 1999 with the Millennium match between Carlton and Collingwood, which the Blues won by 88 points thanks to a 12-goal haul from new star Brendan Fevola.

In the season proper, the Bombers dropped only one match in the 2000 season, against the Bulldogs in round 21.

Essendon made it a double in 2000 — the Bombers defeated the Kangaroos 16.21 (117) to 11.10 (76) in the Ansett Australia Cup final.

The Bombers had the 2000 season by the throat all year, finishing five games clear of second-placed Carlton to win the minor premiership.

St Kilda won the wooden spoon with two wins and a draw (against West Coast in Round 3) for the year.

Bomber full forward Matthew Lloyd was the Coleman medallist in 2000, booting 94 goals in the home and away season.

Shane Woewodin won the 2000 Brownlow Medal.

Essendon waltzed through the finals and went on to beat Melbourne 19.21 (135) to 11.9 (75) in front of 96,000 people at the MCG on September 2, 2000.

The grand final was still a September affair, but only just, with the fixture rejigged for the Olympic Games in Sydney, which started later in the month.

James Hird was the Norm Smith medallist for his best-on- ground performance in the grand final.

Essendon remains tied with Carlton with 16 VFL/AFL grand finals each.

The biggest change to the football world in 2000 came on March 9 when the new stadium at Docklands opened.

Essendon beat Port Adelaide by a whopping 94 points.

Then known as Colonial Stadium, the ground was the cue for many teams to abandon their suburban grounds.

Carlton, for example, played (and won) its last match at Princes Park in July 2000.

The Way We Were

The Prime Minister was John Howard, and Victoria’s Premier was Steve Bracks, who in late 1999 won power from Jeff Kennett when he formed a minority government with three independent MPs.

Victoria’s population was 4,765,900 in June 2000, while Melbourne was home to 3,466,000 people.

Australia’s number one song for the year 2000 was I’m Outta Love by Anastacia.

Melbourne’s number one radio station was 3AW, just as it is today.

Steve Bracks celebrates with his supporters on election night in 1999.
An aerial view of Southbank in 2000.

New TV shows to hit our screens in 2000 Pizza (SBS), Popstars (Seven), sci-fi cult classic Farscape, Backyard Blitz (Nine), Something in the Air (ABC), Rove Live (Ten), Law and Order: SVU (Ten) and the ill-fated chat show Sam and the Fatman, starring Sam Newsman and Paul “Fatty” Vautin.

Brisbane man and former Sale of the Century champion Trevor Sauer became the first person to win $500,000 on the notoriously tough-to- win Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, while Sale of the Century rebranded for the new millennium as Sale of the New Century.

Anastacia had Australia’s number one song in 2000.
Rove McManus hit TV screens in 2000.

Seachange (ABC), The Big Breakfast (Seven), Wipeout (Seven), Murder Call (Nine), and Good News Week (Ten) were among the TV programs that ended in 2000.

The ABC’s Media Watch host, Paul Barry, was sacked and the program axed in 2000.

Media Watch returned in 2002 and Barry returned to the hosting chair in 2013.

Australian films of 2000 included the Working Dog smash hit The Dish, the Yahoo Serious flop Mr Accident, the Mick Molloy documentary Tackle Happy (based on the Puppetry of the Penis stage show) and the movie that launched Eric Bana’s film career, Chopper.

By the numbers

Price of a litre of milk — $1.40

Price of a loaf of bread — $2.33

Price of a litre of petrol — 87.2c

Median house price in Melbourne — $191,000

Average adult wage, Victoria, August 2000 — $796.60

The Headlines of 2000

January 2: An oil spill in Bass Strait off Phillip Island threatens the local penguin population and led to a worldwide appeal for knitted penguin jumpers to protect birds affected by the spill.

January 9: Contaminants are found in aviation fuel produced at Mobil’s Altona refinery, forcing the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to ground all aircraft in Australia the following day.

January 11: Australian troops return from East Timor following the Australian-led peacekeeping mission in the tiny new island nation in the wake of its independence from Indonesia, which seized control of East Timor from Portugal in 1975.

Australian troops with 3rd Royal Australian Regiment return from tour of duty in East Timor. Picture: Alan Pryke
Soldier Marke Goode reunited with his wife Sarah on his return from East Timor in June 2000.

February 25: There are calls for Aged Care Minister Bronwyn Bishop to resign after it’s found she took four weeks to respond to allegations residents at a Melbourne nursing home were given kerosene baths to clear up their scabies.

March 16: Herron paracetamol is recalled around the country amid an extortion threat that the tablets are contaminated. Two people were treated in hospital for strychnine poisoning.

April 27: A Legionnaire’s disease outbreak traced to the new Melbourne Aquarium, putting four people in hospital.

May 21: Sydney’s Airport Rail Link opens. Seventeen years later, argument still rages over whether Melbourne will ever get its own airport railway line.

George W. Bush with wife Laura. Bush was one of the big winners of 2000.

June 23: A fire in a backpackers hostel in Childers, Queensland, kills 15 people.

July 1: The Goods and Services Tax begins operating in Australia.

September 11 to 13: The World Economic Forum in Melbourne is marred by violent protests linked to the S11 movement.

September to October 1: Australia stops for the Sydney Olympics. Australia won a record 58 medals at the games, which are declared by International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch as the best games ever.

Cathy Freeman created one of the iconic moments at the Sydney Olympics. Picture: Getty
Kerrin McEvoy takes out the Melbourne Cup on board Brew.

10 October: Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith finds himself in hot water over a taxpayer-funded phone card with a debt of almost $50,000 on it. Reith later admitted that he gave the card to his son to use.

November 7: Brew wins the Melbourne Cup and, in the other big race of the day, George W. Bush defeats Al Gore to become US President.

December 12, 2000: Former Latvian man and now Australian citizen Konrads Kalejs is arrested in Melbourne on Latvian war crimes charges. The alleged Nazi collaborator, 87, is later ordered by an Australian court to be extradited to Latvia but appeals and illness slow the process. Kalejs died in 2001.