THERE’S been more than a quarter of a century’s worth of Anzac Day match memories since the first-ever Essendon-Collingwood clash at the MCG on the special day in 1995.
The Magpies lead the ledger with 15 wins to Essendon's 10 with one draw among the 26 encounters, while no side has won more than three in a row on Anzac Day.
Beyond the rivalry, there's been some memorable moments for both sides, so we've listed a few of the best over the past few decades.
BOMBERS V PIES All you need to know on Anzac Day
Rocca bags nine in first-up draw - 1995
It's hard to go past the first-ever Anzac Day match which finished in a draw, with Magpies forward Saverio Rocca kicking his ninth goal late in the fourth quarter to tie the game up, after James Hird had snapped the Bombers into a six-point lead.
The first incarnation of the fixture exceeded any expectations as crowds piled into the MCG, with masses still outside upon the Last Post. The crowd that attended, 94,825, is still to this day the largest ever on Anzac Day and actually exceeded the previous season's Grand Final attendance of 93,860.
Those in attendance got their money's worth, with 33 goals across the game and scores being drawn level five times in a topsy-turvy final term. Rocca's nine goals will go down in folklore, earning him a retrospective Anzac Medal. For the record, Nathan Buckley – who had a late chance to pump the ball deep inside 50 but opted to pass to Rocca in a one-on-three - polled three Brownlow votes.
Second-gamer wins best afield – 2002
Mulwala-raised teenager Mark McGough was playing just his second AFL game when he was adjudged best afield and won the Anzac Medal, having collected 25 disposals. The 17-year-old actually didn’t even have a drivers' licence, having been driven to the game by teammate Anthony Rocca, but he paid him back by accelerating Collingwood towards an impressive 33-point victory.
At the time, Essendon had bossed the Pies with three straight Anzac Day wins, with the Bombers having won the Grand Final in 2000 and been runners-up in 2001 during a period of dominance, thus Collingwood's victory was extra sweet for the Magpie Army.
James Clement kept Anzac Day specialist Hird quiet while skipper Nathan Buckley was inspirational, memorably celebrating a brilliant last-quarter goal with teammates, before realising it had, in fact, hit the post and was a behind. But McGough, who went on to only play 49 AFL games, was the enduring star from this affair.
Zaharakis clinches victory from jaws of defeat - 2009
Essendon fans will likely hold this Anzac Day memory most dearly, after an improbable come-from-behind victory capped by rookie David Zaharakis' late goal in his fourth AFL game. The Bombers trailed by 14 points 25 minutes into the final quarter as the rain started to pour down on the MCG.
That wouldn’t dampen the Dons' run as Leroy Jetta snapped a goal, before Ricky Dyson slotted a left-foot set shot from the boundary to close the margin to two points. Jetta seemed to blow Essendon's big chance to steal victory when streaming in on goal in acres of space from Dyson's pass on a fast break, but he fumbled the ball through for a point under pressure from Heritier Lumumba.
The Bombers wouldn’t be denied, however, winning the ball back from the resultant Tarkyn Lockyer kick-in with Nathan Lovett-Murray finding Zaharakis right on 50m, likely his limit. Zaharakis opted to play on and slot home from 45m on the run to claim the lead. There wasn’t time for a clearance from the next centre stoppage as the Dons stole the most unlikely triumph.
'Fat' Swanny shuts up critics in thriller - 2012
There's nothing like a close finish, but one of the highlights of this clash was Dane Swan's best afield display after AFL 360's Mark Robinson had called him "fat". Swan, who later admitted he had a hand in a bucket of KFC when he heard the comment, responded with 42 disposals and three goals, the last of which which he celebrated by ironically rubbing his tummy.
In a tight contest, Brent Stanton had put the Bombers ahead by five points with two minutes to go with a right-foot snap that bounced through on the line. But Collingwood responded almost immediately, with Jarryd Blair soccering the ball through after Ben Sinclair's hopeful kick inside 50 was punched into the goal square.
With 1:20 on the clock, there was still time for an Essendon reply, with Zaharakis almost producing another Anzac Day moment by tackling Kirk Ugle, but Jobe Watson wastefully kicked the ball into the pocket, allowing Collingwood to clear with Swan fittingly taking a relieving mark. When asked post-game about his performance, Swan replied: "It must have been the cheeseburgers last night mate."
MCG erupts after Tippa's rundown on WHE – 2017
You may not hear a louder collective "baaaaaaall!" at the MCG than when Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti hauled down Will Hoskin-Elliott with the Pies closing in on the Dons in the last quarter in front of 87,685 fans.
The Bombers ended up winning by 18 points with Joe Daniher getting the Anzac Medal, but the Magpies had hit the lead in the third term, with Essendon responding to edge away in the last.
Collingwood was breaking forward down the southern side wing, trying to cut the margin to 14 points with seven minutes left and Hoskin-Elliott streaming clear from Jeremy Howe's cross-field pass, but he had McDonald-Tipungwuti in hot pursuit. Hoskin-Elliott's bounce didn’t help him and the Bombers small forward swooped, bringing him down for a famous tackle, leading to Daniher's game-sealing matchwinner from 50m on the run.