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Calling Essendon Bombers Fans: Here’s Everything to Know

The Bombers 2023 season started with promise, with Essendon showing flashes of brilliance that ignited hopes of a return to finals footy. A stunning victory over Adelaide in Round 17 catapulted them to fifth on the ladder, leaving supporters dreaming of September action. However, the dream soon turned into a nightmare as the Bombers stumbled in the final stretch, winning only two of their last seven games and crashing out of finals contention in spectacular fashion.

The abrupt decline in form raised questions about the team’s consistency and ability to perform under pressure. How could a side that showed glimpses of greatness against top teams crumble against supposedly weaker opposition? The inconsistency was glaring, with the Bombers failing to bridge the gap between their best and worst performances.

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The emergence of Kyle Langford

One bright spot amidst the chaos was Kyle Langford, who was a force to be reckoned with in the forward line. Langford’s 51-goal haul provided a silver lining in an otherwise tumultuous season, showcasing his potential as a key player for the Bombers moving forward. Alongside Langford, Zach Merrett stood tall as a beacon of leadership, demonstrating his commitment to the cause with exceptional performances week in and week out.

However, individual brilliance couldn’t mask the team’s shortcomings, particularly in defence. The Bombers struggled to contain opposition attacks, conceding points at an alarming rate and failing to apply consistent pressure without the ball. Jordan Ridley’s absence due to injury only exacerbated the defensive woes, leaving a void in the backline that proved difficult to fill.

The 2023 season left the Bombers at a crossroads. The disappointment of missing out on finals football serves as a harsh reality check, forcing the club to confront its shortcomings head-on. Coach Brad Scott has vowed to implement “extraordinary measures” to address the issues plaguing the team, signalling a willingness to make tough decisions in pursuit of improvement.

Building a new era of resilience and determination at Essendon

Head coach Brad Scott wasted no time in setting the tone for the off-season after 2023. In his candid post-match press conference, Scott pulled no punches, declaring that the bar would be raised, and a new culture of hard work and discipline would be cultivated within the club.

“This is the first opportunity I’ve got to drive an off-season… as to what that looks like and the expectations that we have, because the observations of the last nine to 12 months is nowhere near where it needs to be. So we’ll get that right,” said Scott.

The declaration of intent from Scott reverberated throughout the football world, with St Kilda legend Nick Dal Santo echoing the sentiment that the Bombers needed a significant shake-up. “The fear of god should be put through that group,” Dal Santo remarked, underlining the gravity of the situation.

For Scott, the upcoming off-season represents his first full opportunity to leave an indelible mark on the Essendon playing group since taking over the reins late in the previous year. It’s not just about moulding the list to his liking but instilling a sense of discipline and resilience that will define the club’s identity moving forward.

Defensive improvement looms large as a priority for Scott and his coaching staff. Despite significant efforts in the previous off-season, defensive frailties remained a stumbling block for the Bombers throughout the 2023 campaign. Captain Zach Merrett revealed that 90% of the club’s focus in the previous off-season was on defence, highlighting the magnitude of the challenge ahead.

Scott’s reputation as a hard taskmaster precedes him, and Essendon can expect a rigorous and disciplined approach as they prepare for the 2024 season. With a decorated playing career that included two premierships under the legendary Leigh Matthews at Brisbane, Scott understands what it takes to build a winning culture from the ground up.

Caroline Wilson provided further insights into Scott’s shock upon witnessing the standards at Essendon upon his arrival, indicating that there would be no room for complacency this off-season. Leaders within the club, including players like Jake Stringer, will be tasked with driving higher standards and holding teammates accountable for their performances.

Beyond individual players, Scott will challenge the entire squad to elevate their game and strive for excellence in every aspect. Questions loom over the potential of rising stars like Sam Draper, Andy McGrath, and Jye Caldwell, each tasked with fulfilling their immense potential and becoming leaders in their own right.

But success won’t come overnight for the Bombers. Scott understands the importance of building a cohesive unit where every player is willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. It’s about instilling a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose that transcends individual accolades.

Andrew McGrath signs a six-year deal 

Essendon Football Club received a significant boost as vice-captain Andrew McGrath committed his future to the club, signing a six-year deal that will keep him in the red and black until at least the end of 2030. McGrath’s decision to extend his tenure with the Bombers reflects his belief in the club’s vision and direction, as well as his deep-rooted connection to the playing group, support staff, and coaches.

Throughout the season, McGrath has been a standout performer, showcasing his versatility and leadership qualities while patrolling half-back for Essendon. Averaging 25.4 disposals and 486.5 meters gained per game, McGrath has been instrumental in driving the team forward and setting a high standard on the field.

In expressing his excitement about the long-term commitment, McGrath highlighted the faith and trust that Essendon showed in him as an 18-year-old, paving the way for him to become a one-club player. He highlighted the rich history and loyal supporter base of the club, expressing his desire to make the members and fans proud with his performances on the field.

McGrath also spoke highly of coach Brad Scott, acknowledging his influence as a leader and mentor. Under Scott’s guidance, McGrath is eager to continue his development both as a player and as a person, while also nurturing the growth of the younger players within the squad.

The vice-captain’s belief in the team’s potential is unwavering, with McGrath firmly convinced that Essendon has what it takes to achieve success and continue improving. He stressed the determination within the playing group to push their boundaries and become a great team, acknowledging the hard work and dedication required to reach their goals.

As McGrath looks ahead to the future, he expressed his gratitude to the Bomber faithful for their unwavering support throughout his journey thus far. With their encouragement ringing in his ears, McGrath is eager to lead Essendon to greater heights and make a lasting impact on the club’s storied history.

McGrath’s decision to commit his future to Essendon comes amidst a flurry of contract extensions across the AFL, including Sydney Swans defender Oliver Florent, who signed a five-year extension tying him to the Swans until the end of 2029. Florent’s durability and importance to the Swans were praised by Sydney Swans Executive General Manager Leon Cameron, highlighting the significance of securing key players for the long term.

Essendon’s 2024 season so far

Let’s talk a little about a tale of redemption and resurgence, marked by a renewed sense of purpose and determination under the guidance of coach Brad Scott. After falling short of finals action in the previous year despite a promising start, the Bombers entered the new season with a point to prove, determined to banish the disappointments of the past and forge a path to success.

The early signs have been promising for Essendon, with the team showing significant improvement across various key performance indicators compared to the previous season. Scott’s strategic recruitment decisions, including the acquisitions of Ben McKay, Todd Goldstein, Jade Gresham, and Xavier Duursma, have injected fresh talent and depth into the squad, complementing the emergence of young stars like Sam Durham and the revitalisation of veterans like Jake Stringer.

On the field, Essendon’s statistics paint a picture of a team on the rise. The Bombers have shown marked improvements in contested possessions, clearances, tackles, and goal assists, reflecting a newfound tenacity and efficiency in their gameplay. Captain Zach Merrett has led by example, delivering inspired performances and setting the tone for his teammates with his relentless work ethic and leadership on and off the field.

One of the most significant shifts observed by players and pundits alike has been Essendon’s enhanced communication and resilience in the face of challenges. Defender Nic Martin highlighted this aspect as one of the team’s biggest transformations under Scott’s tenure, stressing the collective effort and unity that have propelled the Bombers forward.

Crucial victories against strong opponents like St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, and Adelaide have underscored Essendon’s growing confidence and ability to compete with the league’s best. While losses to top-four contenders Sydney and Port Adelaide were setbacks, they provided valuable learning experiences and opportunities for the team to refine their game plan and address areas for improvement.

While the club’s ultimate goal of breaking their finals drought looms large, Scott and his players remain focused on the task at hand, taking each game as it comes and striving to maintain the high standards they have set for themselves.

Brad Scott’s stance on the controversial substitute rule 

Scott, who previously worked at the AFL, revealed that he had attempted to abolish the sub-rule during his tenure with the league.

The substitute rule, introduced in 2011, has been a topic of debate since its inception, with critics arguing that it detracts from the purity and flow of the game. While initially implemented to address in-game injuries and concussions, clubs quickly found ways to exploit the rule for strategic advantage, leading to calls for its removal.

Scott advocates for a return to a simpler format, suggesting that having five players on the bench would be preferable to the current substitute arrangement. He contends that the substitute rule adds unnecessary pressure on players and coaching staff and fails to enhance the overall spectacle of the game.

The frustration surrounding the substitute rule was highlighted following Essendon’s ANZAC Day clash with Collingwood, during which forward Harrison Jones required assessment for concussion. Scott expressed his exasperation at the situation, questioning the need for a substitute player and highlighting the challenges faced by clubs in managing in-game injuries within the confines of the rule.

Echoing Scott’s sentiments, Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell also voiced his support for abolishing the substitute rule, suggesting that a return to five players on the bench would introduce a more tactical element to the game. Mitchell believes that having an additional player on the bench would allow teams to make strategic decisions based on the growing dynamics of the match.

In addition to the tactical implications, Scott and Mitchell both highlighted the impact of the substitute rule on the player who starts as the substitute. Scott raised concerns about the physical toll and logistical challenges faced by substituted players, particularly in terms of post-game conditioning and recovery.

The 2024 Anzac Day clash between Essendon and Collingwood 

Ending in an 85-85 tie, the Anzac clash saw a standout performance of the day from Essendon’s Zach Merrett, whose stellar display earned him the coveted Anzac Day Medal.

Merrett’s commanding presence on the field was evident throughout the match, as he amassed an impressive stat line that included 31 disposals, nine tackles, six clearances, and ten contested possessions. His relentless work rate and ability to impact crucial moments of the game made him a deserving recipient of the prestigious accolade.

The Anzac Day Medal votes breakdown revealed Merrett’s dominance, with the star midfielder securing a total of three three-vote nods from the five-person panel tasked with selecting the best-performing player. In addition to his trio of three-vote performances, Merrett also received two additional votes, further solidifying his claim to the medal.

Following Merrett in the voting tally was Essendon defender Andrew McGrath, who earned seven votes for his influential role in the match. McGrath’s defensive prowess and composure under pressure were instrumental in Essendon’s efforts to contain Collingwood’s forward line and secure a hard-fought draw.

Collingwood’s Nick Daicos emerged as the lone representative for the Magpies in the vote count, polling six votes to claim third place. Daicos showcased his exceptional skills and football IQ throughout the game, contributing to Collingwood’s competitive performance on the day.

Rounding out the vote count for Essendon were Kyle Langford, Nic Martin, and Darcy Parish, each polling two votes for their respective contributions to the team’s performance. Langford, Martin, and Parish displayed resilience and determination in their roles, earning recognition from the voting panel for their efforts.

Overall, the Anzac Day Medal votes breakdown highlighted the individual brilliance of Zach Merrett and the collective contributions of both Essendon and Collingwood players in delivering an enthralling contest befitting of the occasion.

Where do you get your 2024 Essendon Bombers AFL tickets?

The home of the greatest tickets during the 2024 AFL season is Queen of Tickets. We have all tickets to all games, so you can grab the best Essendon Bombers tickets this season and cheer your team on live in the stadium. See our dedicated AFL 2024 tickets page here.

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