Fans flocked to the MCG for one of the AFL’s biggest marquee games.
Essendon and Collingwood went head-to-head in the annual ANZAC Day clash, with both teams desperate for a win after starting the season 1-4.
Collingwood kicked the first three goals of the game, before the Bombers recovered to lead at quarter time. A tight tussle ensued, until the floodgates opened for Essendon in the final quarter. Ultimately, the Bombers prevailed by 24 points – their biggest ANZAC Day victory since 2013. Darcy Parish, who accumulated 42 possessions and two goals, was awarded the ANZAC Day Medal. Collingwood’s defeat marked its fifth loss in six games, causing the side to finish the round in 17th place.
The match drew a crowd of 78,113 spectators, after the Victorian government increased the legal capacity from 75% to 85% ahead of round six.
It was the largest crowd for an AFL game since the 2019 Grand Final, when 100,014 spectators watched Richmond defeat GWS to secure the premiership cup; the largest crowd for any sporting event in Australia since 8 March last year, when 86,174 spectators attended the Women’s Twenty20 World Cup Final at the MCG; and the largest crowd for a sporting event anywhere in the world since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11 March, 2020.
The AFL’s world record probably won’t stand for long, with upcoming events in the United States set to challenge it. As many as 135,000 spectators could attend the Indianapolis 500, an open-wheel car race held annually in Indiana, on 30 May. The race usually draws much larger crowds, but due to COVID-19, capacity will be limited at this year’s edition.