It is fair to say that the roller coaster of emotions experienced by Essendon Football Club fans over the past four years, cannot be compared to anything prior within AFL/VFL history.
There’s been guilty verdicts, not guilty verdicts, huge suspensions, massive fines, points stripped, seasons ruined, jobs lost and careers destroyed. However for the first time in many months, Bombers fans can smile.
Make no mistake, the 2016 AFL season will have more pain than pleasure for the Club, who are set to battle through 22 games with more than half of their best 22 watching from the sidelines. Top-up players brought in to cover the suspensions will help lessen the pain significantly, however the brutal reality is that they are unlikely to win more than a handful of games and there will probably be some hidings.
But that’s ok.
With expectations as low as ever before, all Bombers fans really want to see is their beloved red and black put up a fight – and based on what was seen at Ikon Park this afternoon, that is set to occur.
Playing against arch rival and expected fellow cellar-dweller Carlton, the Bombers turned in an extremely impressive performance, smashing the Blues by 60 points. David Zaharakis picked up 28 touches, Martin Gleeson and Zach Merrett 22 apiece and stand-in skipper Brendan Goddard 21. The former Saint also chipped in with three goals, as did Joe Daniher was impressed up forward. Top-up players Ryan Crowley and Jonathan Simpkin also showed some impressive signs and each picked up 17 touches.
Goals: Goddard 3, Daniher 3, Dempsey, J.Merrett, Crowley, McKernan, Long, Hams, Grimley
Best: Goddard, Zaharakis, Gleeson, Z.Merrett, Daniher, Brown
While a ten goal win over Carlton in the NAB Challenge opener is hardly anything to get excited about, the impressive performance has certainly eased the fears of many Essendon fans, in particular for the almost 50,000 members who have already re-signed with the Club this season. To further brighten their day, they enjoyed listening to and singing along to “See the Bombers fly up” – an experience which will certainly not be taken for granted in 2016.