AFL 1 year ago

A blessing in disguise

  • A blessing in disguise

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 10: Orazio Fantasia (R) of the Bombers celebrates his goal with Joe Daniher and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (L) during the round 16 AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the St Kilda Saints at Etihad Stadium on July 10, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Essendon's year was turned upside down on January 12 of this year when their senior list took a major hit after 12 players were banned by WADA for their involvement in the supplements program in 2012. 

Many predicted that the Bombers would get hammered every single week and struggle to compete against all teams in the competition, and while there's been a few ten goal beltings, there's also been some incredibly good football played by the young Bombers. 

First of all, let's just say that 100% of all Bomber supporters would much rather the suspended 12 players sitting out this season, be playing without anything hanging over their head and pushing for finals.

Put the sad reality is, they're not. 

The Bombers have been able to put games into their younger players that they necessarily wouldn't have at the beginning of the pre-season had the "suspended 12" remained at the club this season.

Would we have seen Orazio Fantasia, who has thrived as the club's small forward. He has averaged at least three scoring shots on goal in his last ten games, including eight and six in two of his last three.

Would we have seen Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, who has become the club's cult hero and yesterday showed great poise as a forward for the first time this season. Every time this excitement machine gets the ball, you hear the roar of the crowd go up by 20-25%. 

Would we have seen Michael Hartley, who has thrived as the club's number one defender and likely to remain in the side, regardless of whether All-Australian defender Michael Hurley comes back from his suspension in 2017 or not. 

Add pick one or two, the likes of Langford, Laverde, Parish, Francis, Redman, as well as David Myers, Cale Hooker, Dyson Heppell, Travis Colyer, Heath Hocking and Tom Bellchambers, then the list the Bombers have got isn't all that bad. 

You get the gist of where this is heading. 

The fact of the matter is, the Bombers have been able to get 2-3 years worth experience, development and exposure into their "young kids" which will provide a great battle for spots next season.

If you're looking in the history books come 20-30, even 40 years, you'll see that the Bombers finished inside the bottom two and for those that haven't been born yet will think that they were pretty ordinary in season 2016, which they are, but they won't know that the club took major steps in the right direction.

Are we suggesting the Bombers are a finals chance next season? No, absolutely not. But the depth they will have at the club will be something special. 

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