Essendon cult hero Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti has had a sad finish to his 133-game AFL career as the Bombers were thumped by 70 points against Collingwood at the MCG on Friday night.
But the fan favourite was caught sharing a moment with Collingwood star Brayden Maynard after the final siren that fans online called “wholesome”.
The pair stood together and embraced for an extended moment as the curtain fell on McDonald-Tipungwuti’s dazzling career.
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Speaking before the game, Bombers coach Brad Scott said the 30-year-old forward enjoyed a rare connection with fans.
“I said to the playing group that of all the great champions who have come through the Essendon Football Club, it’s actually hard to think of someone who has made such an impression,” Scott told reporters on Thursday.
“On our supporter base and on our club on so many different levels.
“It’s a celebration for ‘Walla’.”
“The turnaround from where he was to where he is now has been incredible.
“But by his own admission next year is just a bridge too far for him, both physically and mentally.”
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Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti embraced with Brayden Maynard after the game. Credit: Channel 7
Born in the Tiwi Islands, McDonald-Tipungwuti moved to Melbourne aged 17 when unable to speak, read or write English.
The goalsneak played for Gippsland Power in the U18 competition and played reserves for the Bombers before they rookie listed him in late 2015.
McDonald-Tipungwuti made his AFL debut in 2016 and was Essendon’s leading goalkicker in 2020.
He retired in May last year before changing his mind in November.
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti was chaired off after his final game. Credit: Channel 7He has been a favourite among fans for his entire career. Credit: Channel 7
Collingwood had no mercy for the Bombers hero though, clinching their first minor premiership since 2011 after destroying a lethargic Essendon 101-31 in a welcome return to form.
The Magpies slammed through the first 11 goals of Friday night’s match, including eight in a clinical first quarter, to completely overwhelm the bruise-free Bombers in front of 74,344 fans.
Collingwood eased up in the second-half with finals on the radar, cruising to a 16.5 (101) to 3.13 (31) victory as they finished the home-and-away season with an 18-5 record.
Despite losing three of their previous four matches ahead of facing Essendon, Craig McRae’s Collingwood will still be the team to beat come September after securing a home qualifying final, likely against 2021 premiers Melbourne.
Star midfielder Jordan De Goey and small forward Bobby Hill were back in the team after missing last week’s 24-point defeat to the Brisbane Lions through injury.
De Goey and experienced midfielder Tom Mitchell were influential when the game was up for grabs in the first quarter, while lively small forward Jack Ginnivan (three goals) delivered his best performance of the season after spending an extended period in the VFL.
Collingwood have clinched the AFL minor premiership with a 70-point hammering of Essendon. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP
Captain Darcy Moore will almost certainly return from a hamstring strain for the Magpies’ first final, but young superstar Nick Daicos (knee) has already been ruled out for at least that game.
Matchwinning Magpies forward Jamie Elliott was subbed out in a precautionary move with a corked thigh at the main break after kicking two first-half goals.
Essendon started their first season under coach Scott in promising fashion but have capitulated in the last seven weeks, with their only two victories in that period coming against the bottom-two teams, North Melbourne and West Coast.
This smashing follows a diabolical 126-point thumping by Greater Western Sydney last Saturday that ended Essendon’s slim finals hopes.
McDonald-Tipungwuti was subbed into his farewell game in the first quarter due to Kane Baldwin suffering a head knock.
– With AAP
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