Dreamtime at the 'G

Dreamtime at the 'G is an annual Australian rules football match between Australian Football League clubs Essendon and Richmond.

Dreamtime at the 'G
Dreamtime at the 'G.png
LocaleMelbourne, Victoria
First meeting9 July 2005
Latest meeting25 May 2019
BroadcastersNetwork Ten (2005-2011)
Seven Network (2012-present)
Meetings total15
All-time series (Australian Football League only)Richmond – 9 wins
Essendon – 6 wins
Largest victoryRichmond – 71 points
(2 June 2018)

The name of the match comes from the Australian Aboriginal term "Dreamtime" and "the 'G", a nickname for the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) where the match takes place. Since the 2007 season the match has been held annually on the Saturday night of the AFL's "Indigenous Round", also known as the Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

The game draws one of the highest crowds of the home-and-away season, with an average crowd of over 70,000 since its inception and a record attendance of 85,656 in 2017. The winning club is awarded the "Kevin Sheedy Cup" and the best player on the ground is awarded the "Yiooken Award".


Dreamtime at the 'G was first held in 2005, with the aim being to recognise the contribution of all Indigenous players to the AFL.[1] It was held during NAIDOC Week.[2]

From 2006, the Yiooken Award has been awarded to the player judged best on ground in the match.[3]

In 2007, following the success of the Dreamtime at the 'G match in 2005 and 2006, the AFL nominated a specific Indigenous Round (round 9) which has become an annual event in which the Dreamtime at the 'G match takes centre stage. The success of the annual match, which now usually features crowds in excess of 80,000, led to the two clubs agreeing to cement the match's official status for an additional decade in May 2016.[4]

From 2016, the Indigenous Round was named after Sir Doug Nicholls, the only AFL player to have been knighted and serve as a state governor.[5] Each year, each player in all 18 clubs wears a specially-commissioned artwork by an Indigenous artist on their guernsey.[6] In 2019, former Essendon player Michael Long was honoured at this round.[7]

Notable matchesEdit

  • Round 6, 2006 saw Richmond escape with a two-point victory over Essendon after Jarrad Oakley-Nicholls scored the match winning behind with minutes remaining in the final quarter.
  • Round 9, 2007: With just under five minutes remaining, Richmond had a 12-point lead, which was pulled back by Essendon to level the match at 84-apiece (Richmond 12.12.(84) - Essendon 11.18.(84)). Tigers full-forward Matthew Richardson thought he had kicked the match winning goal but it was pulled back, and a fifty-metre penalty was awarded, after Richardson had pushed his opponent in the back prior to kicking the goal. Essendon kicked the last 1.2.(8) of the match to win the game by eight points and deny Richmond what would have been their first win of the 2007 season.

The Long WalkEdit

The match is associated with the pre-game commemoration events organised by The Long Walk, a charity inspired by Indigenous former Essendon player Michael Long, who walked halfway from Melbourne to Canberra in 2004 to get the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people back on the national agenda. (He halted his walk after then Prime Minister John Howard agreed to talk to him.)[8]

On the day of the Dreamtime game, The Long Walk holds a community celebration featuring entertainment and activities as well as community organisation information stalls. Prior to the Dreamtime match, Long and several thousand other participants walk from Federation Square to the Melbourne Cricket Ground to promote reconciliation. In 2013, over 15,000 participants walked to the MCG. The walk has grown in stature and size, and in 2016 was attended by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten.[9]

Curtain RaiserEdit

Players from both teams observe a war cry representing each club and performed by Indigenous people from local communities in 2019

A curtain-raiser match is usually held between two Indigenous football teams from around Australia and its territories.

Year Match/Series Name Team Team
2005[10] West Australian Clontarf Aboriginal Academy
Western Australia
vs Victorian Indigenous
2006 No curtain-raiser match, entertainment and welcome ceremony[3]
2007[11] Tiwi Bombers
Tiwi Islands
vs Rumbalara
Shepparton, Central Victoria
2008[12] Santa Teresa (Ltyentye Apurte)
Alice Springs, Northern Territory
vs Fitzroy Stars
2009[13] Imalu Tigers
Tiwi Islands
vs Brambuk Eels
Western Victoria
2010[14] Rio Tinto Challenge Cup Northern
Northern Australia
vs Southern
Southern Australia

Pre-match ceremonyEdit

Each year the game is preceded by an extravagant indigenous-based music and entertainment show. Performers in 2008 included Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody.

Match resultsEdit

Year Home Team Score Away Team Score Attendance Yiooken Award Winner Game Report
2005 Richmond 14.8 (92) Essendon 9.12 (66) 49,975 -
2006 Essendon 13.17 (95) Richmond 13.19 (97) 58,439 Dean Polo (Richmond) [15]
2007 Richmond 12.12 (84) Essendon 12.20 (92) 61,837 James Hird (Essendon) [16]
2008 Essendon 10.12 (72) Richmond 16.14 (110) 60,333 Nathan Foley (Richmond) [17]
2009 Richmond 12.13 (85) Essendon 19.11 (125) 73,625 Jason Winderlich (Essendon) [18]
2010 Essendon 19.16 (130) Richmond 14.11 (95) 64,709 David Hille (Essendon) [19]
2011 Richmond 16.9 (105) Essendon 13.11 (89) 83,563 Trent Cotchin (Richmond) [20]
2012 Essendon 19.14 (128) Richmond 15.19 (109) 81,200 Brett Deledio (Richmond)
2013 Richmond 9.8 (62) Essendon 13.13 (91) 84,234 Jobe Watson (Essendon)
2014 Essendon 15.14 (104) Richmond 7.12 (54) 74,664 Brendon Goddard (Essendon)
2015 Richmond 10.12 (72) Essendon 8.11 (59) 83,804 Brandon Ellis (Richmond) [21]
2016 Essendon 10.7 (67) Richmond 16.9 (105) 56,948 Dustin Martin (Richmond) [22]
2017 Richmond 11.15 (81) Essendon 10.6 (66) 85,656 Dustin Martin (Richmond) [23]
2018 Essendon 6.7 (43) Richmond 17.12 (114) 81,046 Shane Edwards (Richmond)
2019 Richmond 10.13 (73) Essendon 6.14 (50) 80,176 Bachar Houli (Richmond)


Richmond: 9

Essendon: 6

Kevin Sheedy CupEdit

The centre circle is decorated with the colours of the Aboriginal flag in 2019

In 2005 Richmond and Essendon first competed for the Kevin Sheedy Cup.[24] The cup has continued to be awarded to the winner of each Dreamtime at the 'G game.

Sheedy has a strong connection with both Essendon and Richmond, having played 251 games for Richmond including their 1969, 1973 and 1974 premiership teams. He won the 1976 best & fairest award, captained the club in 1978, was named on their Team of the Century at left back-pocket and inducted into the Richmond Hall of Fame in 2002. He retired in 1979. He then went on to coach Essendon from 1981 to 2007, amassing 635 games as coach and led the club to premierships in 1984, 1985, 1993 & 2000. He was named as coach of the Essendon Team of the Century. He was a selector for the Indigenous Team of the Century and has championed indigenous football, reconciliation, and education.[25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Karen Lyon (6 July 2005). "Tigers, Bombers conjure 'Dreamtime at the 'G'". Melbourne: The Age.
  2. ^ Callander, Sean (2005). "Football Dream". AFL Record (Round 15): 12–13.
  3. ^ a b "Dreamtime at the G - 2006". Essendon Football Club. 10 May 2007. Archived from the original on 14 May 2007. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  4. ^ "Tigers, Dons lock in Dreamtime at the 'G". Richmond FC. 26 May 2016.
  5. ^ "AFL to honour Sir Doug Nicholls in 2016 Indigenous round". The Guardian. 28 October 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  6. ^ Grieve, Charlotte (22 May 2019). "AFL Indigenous guernseys revealed, and the stories behind them". The Age. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  7. ^ "2019 Toyota AFL Sir Doug Nicholls Round to honour Michael Long". AFL Northern Territory. 14 March 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  8. ^ The Long Walk
  9. ^ "The Long Walk: Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten take steps towards Aboriginal reconciliation". ABC News. 28 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Dreamtime at the G". Melbourne: Essendon Football Club. 5 July 2005. Archived from the original on 14 May 2007.
  11. ^ "2007 Dreamtime at the G". Melbourne: AFL Bigpond Network. 23 May 2007.
  12. ^ "Indigenous curtain-raiser at Dreamtime at the 'G". Melbourne: Essendon Football Club. 21 May 2008. Archived from the original on 27 September 2008.
  13. ^ "Ryder says Dreamtime will be something special". Melbourne: Essendon Football Club. 20 May 2009. Archived from the original on 18 September 2009.
  14. ^ "Dreamtime clash inspires Bombers". Melbourne: Essendon Football Club. 21 May 2010. Archived from the original on 26 May 2010.
  15. ^ "Polo recognised for starring debut". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 9 May 2006. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  16. ^ "Dreamtime delight for the Bombers". Melbourne: Essendon Football Club. 26 May 2007. Archived from the original on 18 September 2007.
  17. ^ Burgan, Matt (24 May 2008). "Bombers fall to Tigers". AFL BigPond Network.
  18. ^ Witham, Jennifer (23 May 2009). "Dons down Tigers by 40". AFL BigPond Network.
  19. ^ Burgan, Matt (22 May 2010). "Dons in dreamland after easy win". AFL BigPond Network. Archived from the original on 24 May 2010.
  20. ^ Goraya, Raman (21 May 2011). "Young Tigers beat Bombers on big stage". ABC.
  21. ^ "Dustin Fletcher's 400th AFL match ends with Richmond Tigers beating Essendon Bombers by 13 points". Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  22. ^ "Match report: Tigers make it three straight with win over Dons". Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  23. ^ Ryan, Peter (27 May 2017). "Match report: Tigers' Dreamtime redemption". AFL Media. Telstra Media. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  24. ^ Wilson, Caroline; Rielly, Stephen (3 March 2006). "Dons, Tigers join in 'dream' game". The Age.
  25. ^ McLaughlin, Murray (12 February 2007). "Sheedy still promoting Indigenous football talent". Australian Broadcasting Corporation.