SINCE 1995, Anzac Day has become one of the AFL's biggest stages, with Collingwood and Essendon taking one of the game's fiercest rivalries to even greater heights. Here are some of the moments and men that have defined football's biggest blockbuster.

1. Sav kicks things off with a bang
It's hard to imagine the annual Collingwood-Essendon Anzac Day match getting off to a better start. On a perfect autumn day in 1995, the sun shone on a crowd of 94,825 at the MCG, the second largest home and away attendance in League history. The game didn't disappoint either, with the teams waging a seesawing contest that fittingly ended in a draw. Just as fittingly, it was Pies spearhead Saverio Rocca who provided the game's defining moment. With Essendon six points up in the dying stages of the final quarter, Rocca sent the Pies faithful into a frenzy when he soared over Bomber opponent Ryan O'Connor to take a 'speccy'. He then went back and coolly slotted his ninth goal for the game, tying the scores for the third – and last – time that term.

2. Anzac Day was Hird's stage
'Mr Anzac Day' – that was James Hird. How else can you sum up the unrivalled impact Hird had on Anzac Day clashes? In 10 games, he won a record three Anzac Medals (2000, 2003, 2004) and in 2005 was narrowly edged out by teammate Andrew Lovett despite later receiving three Brownlow Medal votes for his 24-posession game. Remarkably, Hird was left out of the Bombers' best players on Anzac Day just once, in 1995. The Bomber champion was simply the ultimate big-game performer. Time and time again, he won games off his own boot and conjured crucial goals from half chances.

3. Buckley the Magpies' brightest star
Aside from James Hird, there has been no bigger star in Anzac Day games than Nathan Buckley. Before the Anzac Day Medal was instituted in 2000, the Magpie superstar polled three Brownlow Medal votes in both the 1995 and 1998 games, racking up 30 and 26 disposals respectively. He later stood up in the Magpies' heavy defeats of 2000 and 2003, finishing with 31 disposals and four goals in the former game and 37 disposals and two Brownlow votes in the latter. In nine Anzac Day games, Buckley averaged 24.4 possessions and 1.3 goals, and was part of five Collingwood wins, three losses and a draw.

4. Young 'Zacka' gets Bombers over the line in 2009
Collingwood looked to set to claim its fourth consecutive Anzac Day victory when it led by 14 points late in the 2009 clash and the heavens opened. Quick goals from Leroy Jetta and Ricky Dyson raised the Bombers' hopes, but those hopes seemed dashed when Jetta overran a ball in the goalsquare with just a minute remaining in the game, allowing the Pies to cling to a one-point lead. Enter David Zaharakis. In only his fourth game for Essendon, the 19-year-old Zaharakis marked a short pass from teammate Nathan Lovett-Murray on the Bombers' 50m line, made a split-second decision to play on and calmly booted the game-winner with five seconds left on the clock.

5. Blair toe-poke clinches last-gasp Pies' win in 2012
Just one point separated the teams at the end of an epic 2012 clash or, more accurately, one well-timed slide and toe-poke from Magpie small forward Jarryd Blair. The Pies had led by 14 points midway through the final quarter, but three consecutive Essendon goals put them five points down with two minutes remaining. Less than a minute later, Collingwood drove the ball deep inside its forward line and, when it spilled over a pack in the goalsquare, Blair slid in and got his boot to it just before the goal-line. The Magpies endured an agonising wait before a video review confirmed Blair's goal. They then clung gamely to that lead over the remaining 80 seconds to record a memorable win.