The Bombers celebrate a famous win over the Kangaroos in round 16, 2001. (Photo: AFL Photos)

This moment is the 27th of a virtual series presenting the Bombers' best 30 moments over 150 years, which fans can vote on for their chance to win prizes. Click here to view and vote, and see the schedule and prizes below.

Perhaps no victory showcased the greatness of Essendon’s team during its dominant three-year period between 1999-2001 than the round 16 match against the Kangaroos in 2001.

That day, the Bombers pulled off what remains the greatest recovery in VFL/AFL history, charging back from 69 points down at the start of the second quarter to stun the Kangaroos: 27.9 (151) to 25.9 (139).

When the sides met in round one, Essendon, the reigning champion, belted its rival by 85 points. But in the return bout on July 22 - and despite the Kangaroos missing superstar skipper Wayne Carey, as well as Anthony Stevens and Mick Martyn - the ‘Roos charged out of the blocks with a 12-goal-to-two opening term to lead by 58 points. It was as stunning a display as had ever been seen against a Sheedy-coached Essendon side. By the 10-minute mark of the second quarter, the lead had ballooned out to 69 points - 91 to 22 - and it was a case of how far for the men from Arden Street.

However, just as the game appeared a lost cause for the Bombers, goals to Jason Johnson, then skipper James Hird, halted the Kangaroos’ run. In a stunning turnaround, the Bombers piled on 10 goals for the quarter - five from full-forward Matthew Lloyd alone - to trail by just 21 points at half-time. At the final change, the margin was a gettable 14 points.

According to centreman Joe Misiti, coach Kevin Sheedy was a master at convincing his players a game was never lost. “Kevin Sheedy was always good in those situations where we were behind, because he’d tell you to chip away each quarter and slowly bridge the gap. It’s amazing what can happen when you get some momentum going.”

Eleven minutes into the final quarter, small forward Gary Moorcroft put the Bombers in front. And when Blake Caracella ran into an open goal with less than two minutes remaining, the fairytale was all but complete. Lloyd finished with nine goals straight, Caracella three, and Hird was his creative best. But the hero of the day was Jason Johnson. ‘Johnno’ had 31 disposals, 13 clearances, 10 inside-50s, and kicked four goals in his finest game for the club.

Teammates get around Jason Johnson after his inspiring performance against the Kangaroos. (Photo: AFL Photos)


Round 1 (launching May 6) - 1872-1939

Round 2 (launching May 10) - 1940-1959

Round 3 (launching May 15) - 1960-1979

Round 4 (launching May 20) - 1980-1989

Round 5 (launching May 25) - 1990-1999

Round 6 (launching May 30) - 2000-2021

Round 7 (launching June 4) - Finals round


Round 1 – One 2022 merchandise pack, including an Essendon New Era Black on Black 9FORTY Snapback cap ($40) and an Essendon Heritage Bar Scarf ($30)

Round 2 – One Essendon Fibre of Football Scarf ($80)

Round 3 - One Essendon Football Club 150-year anniversary commemorative mosaic ($295)

Round 4 – One Essendon Football Club 150-year anniversary commemorative mosaic ($295)

Round 5 – One 2022 team-signed guernsey ($500)

Round 6 – One copy of the Red & Black Collection special 150th anniversary book ($329)

Round 7 – One copy of the Red & Black Collection special 150th anniversary book ($329) and one 2022 team-signed guernsey ($500)