Bad luck Bombers...

Good afternoon,

Unfortunately the Essendon Football Club's 2014 campaign came to an end on Saturday night with a 12 point loss to North Melbourne. Sadly we were well up (33 points in fact) during the third quarter but unfortunately couldn't go on and close it out. P7 for the season is a pretty fair result. My year end summary and player and coaching ratings will be released piece by piece.

Who was Impressive:

Dyson Heppell was a running, possession grabbing machine all year. Seems 'slow-ish' but is always around the ball with time to use it. His disposal was a big improvement on 2013. A standout performer for the year and should run a place in the Brownlow and will win his first Crichton Medal.

Paddy Ryder's ruck work / palming skills was under-rated by non-Bomber watchers this year. His leap and accurate taps were exciting to watch at centre clearances. Paddy also kicked valuable goals when he went forward.

Michael Hibberd and Cale Hooker were absolute rocks in defence. It is one thing to be negative in defence, but it is a rare skill that combines that with intercept marking and run off half back. These guys were brilliant.

Who wasn't...:

We have a middling (pardon the pun) range of mid-fielders who I don't believe have come on enough. Melksham, Howlett being two who just need to step up and take more games by the scruff. Too invisible for too long in games.

I probably hoped that Paul Chapman would make a bigger impact on the scoreboard than he did. Maybe my expectations were just too high. 'Chappy' did provide leadership and competitiveness however.

Harsh call but Patrick Ambrose didn't seem to be a top four centre half forward to me. Tries hard and is mobile but doesn't demand enough of the ball in the right spots at the right moments.

Another harsh call, but Brent Stanton did not have an impact this year commensurate with his experience and skills. His outright speed seemed down and running distance / patterns appeared to be lessened. Injuries maybe, I don't know but disappointing nevertheless...

Jackson Merrett started the season OK, but was overtaken by his younger brother and will need to increase his work rate and slot more goals from his limited opportunities to be a regular in 2015.

Leroy Jetta sadly sunk without a trace. Disappointing.

Tom Bellchambers year was cruelled by serious ankle issues early, and I hope that this was the only reason that he failed to have an impact in the games that he played.

Who surprised:

Zach Merrett had a sensational debut year. Looked better as the year went on will be even better with another pre-season under his belt.

Mark Baguley continues to be indispensable in defence. He plays his heart out in every contest and leaves absolutely nothing in the tank after every game.

Pass Marks

Skipper Jobe Watson, Joe Daniher (just snuck into this category with his last few games of the season), Michael Hurley, David Zaharakis (almost made the 'Impressive List'), David Myers (was almost surprisingly effective and the only to player to have an appendage with it's own hashtag #leftleg) , Heath Hocking, Dustin Fletcher (his first half of the year was excellent), Jake Carlisle, Brendon Goddard (needs to kick straighter), Jason Winderlich (thanks for your career), Courtenay Dempsey and Travis Colyer (he needs to be given running patterns and a license to RUN as he is just about our only genuine fast runner over distance and line breakers with foot speed).

Would keep

The likes of Ariel Steinberg (showed he wasn't afraid of the big stage after 2+ years in the 'magoos'), Elliott Kavanagh, Orazel Fantasia, Nick O'Brien, Jason Ashby, Martin Gleeson all did enough at senior level to keep them on going into 2015.

Injuries

Best wishes to Alex Browne, Nick Kommer and others who are recovering from serious injuries.

Coaches

Thanks to Mark 'Bomber' Thompson for stepping into the breach at a difficult time and doing an outstanding job of giving the club a rudder and having the ability to steer the ship in a sensible direction in a turbulent year. I really enjoyed the coaches member communications after every game.

However I didn't enjoy our games as much as last year. The defensive structures, limiting our speed going forward was to less interesting to watch than last year. Did it win more games, yes, but ultimately didn't seem to materially move us forward. Especially as the coaching team weren't able to teach / structure our players / game plan to maintain six goal plus leads in games. Something was seriously amiss in our thinking and responsive in-game.

More to come soon...

Bye for now, BomberBoy