#9 – Essendon Bombers
To paraphrase Dave Chappelle, “What do we say about Essendon, that hasn’t already been said about Lance Armstrong?”
Drug cheats, stripped points and James motherflippin’ Hird.
I imagine being an Essendon fan is the football equivalent of having Stockholm Syndrome. There’s something mystical about Windy Hill that seems to suck in the previously rational (Bomber Thompson), those at the top of their game and fleeing for greener pastures (Brendon Goddard), and even those simply looking for a second chance (Adam Cooney). There’s something in the water there, almost like a negatively charged magnet, that draws people in. Maybe it’s just what’s running through their veins.
Like clenbuterol…wait, I mean thymosin beta-4. It’s so hard to differentiate between the elite Melbourne clubs illicit drug use. At least Collingwood has their Performance-Enhancing Centre to keep it nice and clear, I suppose.
So, what should you expect from the vein-popping Essendon team in 2015?
1. James Hird’s stupid, smirking face across your TV screens after every win.
Let’s be honest – there are very few people in human history who have more punchable faces than Hirdy. Somehow, despite overseeing this whole drugs program, he has managed to waltz away scot-free, putting all the blame on Stephen Dank. And you know that you know that you KNOW that he’s going to be using an ‘us against them’ mentality to fire up the troops and worse, that it will probably work. Ugh. Hird.
2. A big season from Jobe Watson
I think it legitimately angers Watson that his Brownlow is forever tainted by drug use. Hard to tell of course, but he seems like a decent guy who is troubled by all this. I think he is going to come back with a vengeance in 2015 after a 2014 that he’d like to forget, playing only 15 games in the season from hell.
3. A legitimate, concerted push for the top 8
This is honestly the last thing I want to see, but it’ll probably happen. Hird will fire up his troops, Watson will have a big year, Heppell and Hooker will continue to develop into elite AFL players and the rest of the team is simply along for the ride.
4. 400 games from Dustin Fletcher, then retirement.
That’s my sneaky prediction for 2015. Boomer Harvey (384) will end up playing more games than the increasingly weary Fletch (394), who has struggled to play 28 games over the last 2 seasons. He will still go out as a champion, however.
It’s no longer Hep B at the Bombers, but Hep A!
Dyson Heppell is now the best player on Essendon, overtaking Jobe Watson. Hep had an incredible season in 2014 with 28.5 touches, 4.5 tackles and more than 5 clearances a game, getting him named to the All-Australian team and winning the W.S. Crichton Medal.
Also, I just re-read the top sentence. I understand if anyone is feeling confused and awkward. What I was trying to imply is that there are probably players with hepatitis at Essendon.
Has to be Ariel Steinberg.
I mean, I don’t believe that, but his name is Ariel and I felt it was important that was highlighted.
Seriously though, Joe Daniher is now 21 and ready to have a career year after a full year in 2014. 4 goals in last year’s elimination final against North announced that he’s ready…to come off the supplements program. Too soon? LOL JKS #Thymosin4EVA
With respect to Adam Cooney, who will have every chance to show what kind of Irish-centric food substance he is, can you believe Heath Hocking is still getting regular AFL games? Last year 22 games, 13 touches a game, 7 total goals. I’ve always thought he was kind of a homeless man’s Joel Bowden – just handball receives. Looks like he’s not even getting them any more. He’s taking up a valuable roster spot. #GiveArielAChance
Most hateable player:
I think, considering the rest of this preview, I should probably leave that one alone.
What to expect when you’re expecting a premiership
The Bombers have eyes for the flag. They won’t get it, of course, but that’s where they’re looking. When you have a captain in the gift, age and skill set like Watson with outstanding key position players like Hooker, Hurley and Daniher, you can expect nothing less. And, perhaps most importantly, they still have time on their side – it’s a youngish squad, growing together.
This thing with ASADA isn’t over. There will be plenty of pushback on how light the Bombers ended up getting off and this will be far from the last we hear about it all. But the playing group is together, on the field, focused and talented.
The Bombers can win a premiership if the combination of Bellchambers and Giles can step up significantly in the ruck and if the run of Goddard, Heppell, Stanton and Watson can continue to deliver well to their young, big, talented forward line.
Also, not having points docked would probably help.
A huge thanks to the 5 billion amusing Essendon memes online in assisting to write this article. You guys are the REAL winners!