Barney’s 2010 AFL Crystal Ball Part 3: Essendon and Fremantle

by Josh Barnstable


A tough year for the Bombers finished in an unlikely finals berth that they didn’t deserve, and it showed with a 96-point thumping by the Crows showing them the exit from September. Matthew Lloyd and Scott Lucas are gone, their two goalkicking stars of the past decade. The Bombers don’t have any real quality Full Forwards, but they do have plenty of guys who have proved they can kick goals, such as young star Michael Hurley and Jay Neagle, while crumbers Angus Monfries, Kyle Reimers, Alwyn Davey and new addition from Hawthorn Mark Williams. Scott Gumbleton may fit down in the goalsquare or roaming half forward, but he may also play in defence if he can get his body right, I don’t think anyone remembers that he was a number two draft pick. The midfield has some class and leadership but it needs more skill and poise. Jobe Watson is the complete package, while Brent Stanton is the barometer. Mark McVeigh is inspirational when he wants to be, while youngsters Mark Zaharak…Sorry that’s David Zaharakis, Brent Prismall, Jake Melksham and Sam Lonergan have the ability to carry Essendon into its next premiership. Andrew Welsh is what every club wants, skilful, full of precision and shows leadership. Keeping him at Windy Hill was a major win for Essendon. The loss of Andrew Lovett will hurt, but on the upside they won’t have to worry about his off-field discretions now. David Hille is ready to return to the Ruck, as is Jayson Laycock (the worst player currently in the AFL). One wethers Paddy Ryder should return to the backline or stay in the Ruck where he excelled in 2009. The backline found a replacement for Dustin Fletcher when his time comes: Tayte Pears. One of the best young stoppers in the competition, he impressed many coaches and supporters this year. Hurley will be solid if he is needed down back, while Courtenay Dempsey should be approaching his breakout season soon. Nathan Lovett-Murray was solid despite his off-field troubles, Heath Hocking showed potential while Jake Carlisle was a handy pickup during the draft for the Bombers. Henry Slattery should remain as the underrated backman while Cale Hooker has amazing potential for his height and mobility. I can’t see a premiership anytime soon, 2010 won’t be a pretty year for Essendon with the difficult draw, but in a few seasons, we’ll be hearing all the Bomber supporters rising from the dead and supporting in full cheer once again.

My prediction:

Leading goalkicker: Mark Williams

Best and Fairest: Jobe Watson

Fremantle Dockers:

I’m not going to say they will make the top eight. It has been repeated pre-season after pre-season that Fremantle will finally realise their potential and rise to the top of the ladder. How wrong those ‘experts’ have been. 2009 was perhaps the lowest ebb in the Dockers’ 15 year history, but things are actually bright. In the forward line, Hayden Ballantyne was a revelation. If he stays in the side, Freo will look faster and more dangerous when the ball is inside 50. Matthew Pavlich didn’t have his best year goalwise, failing to kick over 30, but will be the most important cog down forward as he always is. Oh what Freo would give to have three Matthew Pavlich’s. The coaching staff at Fremantle must be stupid, why did they keep Ryan Murphy on their list? His only claim to fame this year was kicking the Dockers’ solitary goal against Adelaide in Round 15. Nathan Fyfe will quickly take his position that he barely manages to hold, him or Joel Houghton. Nic Suban showed heaps of promise in 2009, playing a blinder against Essendon in Round 21 which earned him the NAB Rising Star nomination that week. Luke McPharlin may play up forward, while David Mundy and Michael Johnson are agile enough to play forward and back with some effect in both areas. The return of classy runner Chris Mayne will also help the Dockers’ cause. The youngsters in Tim Ruffles, Jay van Berlo, Clancee Pearce and Michael Walters should expect to see some gametime in 2010. The midfield is starting to get some ability about it. Stephen Hill was excellent in his first year, Rhys Palmer will return after a knee reconstruction while draft sensation Anthony Morabito will play a major role next year. Paul Hasleby was back to his best after a year off from the game due to a knee injury, Ryan Crowley will be relishing the prospect of getting back into his tagging position while Garrick Ibbotson is another young, up and coming Docker. The backline is weak, it needs some attention. Greg Broughton was a shining light in his first season, Antoni Grover was prolific as always, Roger Hayden broke his leg at the halfway mark, Steven Dodd was underrated and flew under the radar for most of the year, but the Dockers did find some positives during ’09. Chris Tarrant finally found his position at Full Back, Paul Duffield put in a career-best season and Scott Thornton showed some promise. A big advantage for Fremantle is that they have perhaps the best Ruckman in the game, Aaron Sandilands. Clearly the biggest player to ever grace Subiaco Oval and any other ground in Australia in fact, if his midfielders can take first possession of his hitouts, the likes of Pavlich, McPharlin and Ballantyne will be having days out. The next couple of seasons will be developing years, but with no real prize for finishing in the bottom three in 2010, its all or nothing next year for Fremantle.

My prediction:

Leading goalkicker: Matthew Pavlich

Best and Fairest: Matthew Pavlich

Tomorrow: Geelong and Hawthorn

To see Josh Barnstable’s other 2010 previews, click on his name at the right of this screen.


  1. Gigs, sorry for making fun of you yet again by making reference to the David Zaharakis incident, but it is pretty funny. Lol

  2. Steve Healy says

    hahah yeah. Great stuff by the way Josh.

  3. I forgot to mention Adam McFlee

  4. Don’t worry, Josh. I have thick skin. And I’m just waiting to get back at you…

  5. Ready and waiting for that Gigs.

    Steve, i got your letter today. Thanks for the scoresheets and drawing too.

  6. Hey guys, this has been bugging me for days, do any of you know what Myki is? If so, enlighten me.

  7. its like a credit card thingo to use on trains so that you dont have to keep buying new ones. i think it runs on credit.

  8. Oh ok, thanks

  9. lol thats fine
    ohh btw i got a new boyfriend and before u kill me, yeah hes 12 years old!!

    nahh hes just a fam friend and i tease him by calling him my boyfriend. lol hes so cute, cos i give him hugs and he gest all shy! lol reaction is funny as!! lol
    i told him to start saving his money for my wedding ring, you should have seen his face! lol

  10. Poor kid lol

  11. lol hahhaha but you know what he said when my brother was teasing him about it? he goes
    “well, atleast shes good looking!”

  12. Ahaha your in Danni

    Status – playing a snowboarding game

  13. LOL it was sooo funny!!
    i even made him save a picture i took of me hugging him as his phone screensaver! lol
    then i was talking to him about the house i wanted him to buy me and he was like,
    “do i have get a mansion?”
    im like “yep!”
    hes like, “ohh, thats gonna cost lots!”
    HAHAHHAH lol kids are so cute.

  14. He has a phone? Don’t tell me you text him..

  15. lol, no ofcorse i don’t hes just a famfriend and may i remind you, hes only 12!
    lol i just like to tease him!

  16. Damian Watson says

    Trent Croad has announced his retirement after 10 years of footy with the Hawks and Dockers.

    It only feels like yesterday when I was 12, how old is your brother Danni?

  17. That’s a pity, hopefully Matthew Egan doesn’t go down the same path.

  18. Crystal Ball Episode 4 (Attack of the Hawkish Cats) is out – more than an hour earlier than yesterday!

  19. Awesome Gigs, thanks. Speaking of, we almost hit a hawk today driving to Waaia.

  20. Damo, my bro is 13.

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