Can Essendon Field a Pre-season Team?

Caroline Wilson is back to her alarmist best, speculating that Essendon will struggle to field a team and could have to top up with second tier players from the VFL, SANFL and WAFL. Wilson’s articles are always full of ‘could haves’.

I’m not sure her Maths adds up. According to the team list, Essendon have 45 players including Rookies. Most reports are that there are 18 players still remaining at the club facing bans.  This leaves 27 players technically available.

But the 18 want to remain anonymous, which seems to me pretty pointless as there are only 23 players from the 2012 list still playing at the club. We know David Zaharakis was not involved due to his fear of needles. It is not hard to guess who the 18 are. In any case even if the remaining 22 do stand out of the pre-season games, there is still a core of 23 players who are eligible to play. If a few of these are on the injury list then players may need to be brought up from the Essendon VFL list.  No big deal. There are some handy players on that list including recent AFL players Kyle Hardingham (ex-Essendon), James Polkinghorn (ex-Brisbane) and Jordon Schroeder (ex-Geelong).

How would such a team look?

F: Cooney, Daniher, Fantasia

HF: Z. Merrett, Ambrose, Kommer

C: Hams, Zaharakis, Gleeson

HB: Dagleish, Langford, LaVerde

B: Ashby, Gwilt, Edwards

R: Giles, Goddard, Chapman

Int from: McKernan (mature rookie), Aylett (rookie), Steinberg (rookie), Long (rookie), McKenna (Irish rookie), Hardingham (VFL), Polkinghorn (VFL), Schroeder (VFL)

Obviously it is a team of players at the beginning and end of their respective careers with very few mid-career players. Forward and midfield is relatively sound, but the defense looks a bit vulnerable! Depending on injuries such a team would put on a good show for the fans and TV.

It raises the question of whether it has it been a deliberate strategy of Essendon to recruit ready made players over the last couple of years – Goddard, Chapman, Cooney, Giles, Gwilt, McKernan, Edwards, Aylett, Kommer – in anticipation of this moment?

About John Tait

My day job is running a record and bookstore in Essendon. I am author of Vanda & Young, UNSW Press, 2010. I also collaborate with australian musicians who want to write their memoirs (eg. The Dingoes Lament by John Bois, Melbourne Books, 2012). I love writing about sport but it is so hard to find a forum. I am a lifelong Essendon supporter and squash player.


  1. Love your line-up Taity. The fact that you could only find a spot for Ariel Sternberg on the bench in this side suggests that the two games he got towards the end of 2014 were nothing more than shopping him around to other clubs in real-time in the hope that a trade could be engineered.

    Giles, Goddard, Chapman and Zaharakis. Not premiership quality, but still a decent combination to get the ball forward from centre-bounces. And I’d probably try Joe Daniher at Centre HF for a while: give the defenders something to aim for in transition.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I’m perplexed about the anonymity bit – what is the point?

  3. Who cares? Play the lot I say.
    So long as James Hird is publicly tarred, feathered and garrotted as the Half Time entertainment.

  4. Yep, of course they could get a team on the park without too much wheeling and dealing. Like you and Swish I am bamboozled by the whole anonymity thing.

    Add Fantasia to the ‘ready made’ list as he came to the club with a senior SANFL premiership under his belt and I reckon you might be on to something re. recruiting strategy.

  5. Hey John

    Reckon you’re right about the strategy: what other reason could there be to re-cycle so many ‘never-was’s’ and ‘has-beens’?? Gonna be a painful year for you Dons now that you’re taking your medicine.

    PS: Been to your store many, many times. I usually clean out you compilation albums (reckon I’ve snapped up 200 of them over the years.) And I can highly recommend John’s store to almanackers: quality vinyl at competitive rates and a vast, vast stockpile of pre loved books ( and I picked up several hard to find Kurt Vonnegut titles amongst them)

  6. Thanks for your comments. It occurs to me that Hardingham was probably on the 2012 list.

    Caroline Wilson still banging on about it this morning. Have you noticed that everytime Essendon says or does something regarding care of its players, she trots out the old line, “If only the club had been this concerned about their players’ welfare in 2011 and 2012” Yes, yes,yes, that was then, this is now.

  7. I have noticed how she trots out the line, mate. Reckon it’s got a lot more legs than you’re giving it credit!

  8. I’m actually a bit tired of the “what about the players” line from both sides of the fence. At Melrose Drive and Docklands, this whole ‘thing’ has been about protecting brands and public perceptions

  9. Gee, I am dreading getting involved in this thread, but, but:
    I too, am perplexed about the whole anonymity thing.
    If (and that is a big if) the players were to receive suspensions,
    I would assume that all anonymity then ceases? I suspect that
    the tribunal’s findings will be released publicly?

  10. Smokie, 17 players “rested” at the same time? “unavailable for personal reasons”!

  11. Not an issue – they’ll all get off.

  12. G’day Taity,

    It’s interesting that you form a ‘team’ placing BJ and Chapman as ruck men. Is it because they are tall and experienced? I have researched about them and understand that Goddard is playing mainly at mid-field and Chapman is a forward. I guess that they can gain clearance and move forward to score goals.

    As for Caroline Wilson, in my opinion, she does not have enough knowledge of the game itself and just sees sides of footy politics (off-field matters). I think her colleague, Rohan Connolly, an Essendon fan, would write an article from different angles. He knows much more about footy than Caro.



  13. No Yoshi, I mean BJ and Chapman as starting midfielders. Ruckmen are Giles, McKernan and Daniher if needed.

  14. Yoshi, careful on the Caro doesn’t know what she’s talking about angle. Besides this being an off-field matter, few people have grown up in an atmosphere as steeped in football as she.
    When she was a kid her old man was president of Richmond when they won 4 premierships. After the season Graeme Richmond et al would meet at the Wilson house for Chop Chop Sunday, where they’d decide which superstar to sack.
    Don’t get caught up in the girl thing… she knows footy.

    The most interesting part of this saga has become its psychology. I used to laugh at the old “football is a religion in Melbourne” cry. Not now. Suicide Bombers takes on a new meaning.

  15. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Anonymity bit is just idiotic , agree re the recruiting no doubt it has been a factor re Carro her knowledge of football and especially its politics is second to none as for the line if only they had cared for its players back then at least it is 100 per cent correct
    ( couldn’t agree more re , Hird PB )

  16. TRUST all you anti-Caro turkeys (yep, including you, Yoshi) have had a good read of today’s Age.
    Particularly the inside back pic/story on Governor-designate Linda Dessau, her
    mate the 1st woman AFL commissioner, Sam Mostyn, and the slew of female executive team members at St. Kilda.
    Linda, of course, will have to hand back her AFL commissioner’s badge when she takes up residence in Victoria’s Government House.
    Poster ajc sums up Caroline Wilson perfectly, just above this offering.
    She KNOWS footy Yoshi and Taity and Co.
    As a former daily newspaper’s sports editor I reckon I know a little bit about journalism, and Caro is the top footy writer in this nation. Without peer.
    [I’m including my old cadet writer Robbo in this group, in case you’re wondering]

  17. Yes Caro has a very good footy CV and background. Yes she ‘knows’ footy. Yes she wins lots of awards.

    Answer me this. Why is she so despised by so many readers?

    Is it because she is so negative? Is it because every second article calls for somebody to be sacked? Is it because she is on the most irritating footy show on TV? Is it because she keeps trying to make 1 plus 1 equal 3?

  18. Yawn

  19. Number cruncher says

    Caro’s attacks on the Dons are the highlight of my week! Long may she run.

  20. GEEZ, Taity, are we on the same continent. No make that the same planet??
    That Monday night TV footy show is the only AFL footy show I watch on television The Lone Wolf and Lloydy are fine. Hutchy is a pain, I’ll grant you that.
    Innaresting wasn’t it, that Hutchy’s outfit was in hot water recently for paying interns or trainees shite wages. Or no wages at all.
    Caro knows her stuff and she ladles it out to Lyon and Hutch. Lloydy is often caught trailing along in the slip stream.
    Dunno about “being despised by so many readers” Certainly not this reader nor this reader’s family who rely on her for breaking stories.
    It’s surely not the sexism thing, Taity. Not in 2015. Blokes not cottoning onto female journos. It’s not 1955 nor even 1985. We’re 15 years into the new millennium.
    Explanatory note: we don’t have Pay-TV so have no access to footy shows on those channels. Which is a godsend becoz we only have to listen to G. Whateley on ABC radio and not endure extra doses of him on the goggle box.

  21. NAB Cup used to = a pinch of shit

    The NAB Challenge = half a pinch of shit

    The AFL seem to have done EFC and themselves a kindness by fixturing them against last year’s dregs.

    There’s bigger fish to be carefully fried.

  22. Ah, yes, Richard, journalists know what we want. I need to remember that.

    It seems newspapers measure themselves against what newspapers think is valuable (an internal measure). I’m not getting into a discussion on Caro, other than to say her style of story has its place. It’s a much bigger place if newspaper editors/proprietors crave the politics, economics, commerce of footy to the point of priority. It’s a smaller place if on-field elements prevail.

    The big-claim first-to-find-out journalist makes no impression on me. I have a “so-what” test. If at the end of a piece (any medium) I go “so what” I’m left cold. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t waste time caring about.

    This is a matter of personal taste – to a degree.

    But, we also have no say in it, and so we get what we’re given, when we might prefer something else. Which means we can go elsewhere to the places where what we crave is offered…oh, hang on, isn’t that what’s happening?

Leave a Comment