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BTV: WBW | Lloyd vs Carey Matthew Lloyd reflects on a 1999 match against North Melbourne, who were then led by superstar Wayne Carey.

Who is Essendon’s biggest rival?

Such is the Club’s long history; the Bombers boast rivalries – on some level – with most opposition teams.

There are the obvious ones with Collingwood, Carlton and Richmond. The battles with Hawthorn intensified during the ‘80s and then spiked again in the mid 2000s. While the Dons have had some memorable clashes with West Coast and Brisbane. 

But speak to those inside the Club during the late ‘90s and early 2000s and it’s the rivalry with North Melbourne they say was the biggest at the time.

“It was one of the strongest rivalries I was ever involved in,” Essendon champion Matthew Lloyd said.

“In the late 90s and early 2000s North and Essendon really had a dislike for each other.

“They’d really bullied us through the ’97 and ’98 period.

“We got to ’99 and thought ‘enough is enough’.” 

In round 17 of the 1999 season the Bombers played the Kangaroos at the MCG in front of 68,831 fans.

By the final siren the sides had kicked 44 goals between them, with Wayne Carey kicking ten goals and Matthew Lloyd booting seven.

“We played someone in front of him (Carey) and someone on him and he was still able to kick ten goals,” Lloyd said. 

“I got Glenn Archer that day and felt I was getting him close to goals and I was a bit too tall in the one-on-one situations.

“It was a bit of a shootout, a very open game, a lot different to what it is now.

“It was probably one of the most enjoyable games – like the 2001 comeback game – that I ever played in.

“That day did make us feel like we could beat anyone after that.”

The Bombers won the match by 26 points but on Grand Final day, they watched on as the Kangaroos won the premiership.

But the tide was about to turn. 

The round 17 win was the second of six straight victories for the Dons over the Kangaroos.

And in 2000, it was North Melbourne looking on as the Bombers lifted the premiership cup.