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NATIONAL DRAFT OF ENORMOUS IMPORTANCE

Is this Sunday’s National Draft the most important Essendon Football Club has faced since the inaugural version in 1986? It is a difficult question to answer as every draft is critical to the long-term future of your club. But on face value the answer is probably yes. Seven players that were with the club in 2002 will not be wearing the red and black in 2003. Among them is six Premiership players and just under 1000 games of AFL / VFL football. Essendon still has plenty of experience that will help to cover these losses but this draft will be critical to sure up the next generation of Bombers.

James Hird, Joe Misiti and Mark Mercuri are by no means over the hill but they almost certainly have more football seasons behind them than they have ahead of them. Paul Barnard, Sean Wellman and possibly Dustin Fletcher fall into the same category The next rung in terms of experience looks very solid – the Johnsons, Adam Ramanauskas, Dean Solomon, Danny Jacobs, Mark McVeigh, Mark Bolton, Dean Rioli, Scott Lucas and Matthew Lloyd are among this group.

It is the younger group that needs bolstering and this Sunday’s National Draft will be critical. This group consists of players such as Jordan Bannister, Marc Bullen, James Davies, Rob Forster-Knight, Shane Harvey, David Hille, Sam Hunt, Cory McGrath, Simon O’Keefe, Joel Reynolds, Ted Richards and Andrew Welsh. Apart from Welsh and Hille, the players in this group are yet to really show they are capable of carrying this club into the future. That is not to say they won’t and it’s not to say they aren’t a very talented bunch of footballers. But as it stands supporters are probably guessing to some extent when asked what the future might hold.

As much as anything, the strength of the senior side has limited the opportunities of these players. But that excuse isn’t as valid as it may have been prior to last season. All bar O’Keefe have tasted senior football. And it is an excuse that won’t hold water at all at the end of next season. They will get plenty of opportunities given the turnover of players during the trade period. They must stand up in 2003.

But this all brings us back to the initial question and the fact this draft is extremely important to this club. The club will make five selections this Sunday – its sixth (a third-round selection) has been used to pick up Jobe Watson under the father-son rule. Most agree Watson would have been a first or second round selection so the club has already made good progress.

The Bombers have four selections in the top 30 for the upcoming draft – a rare thing for this football club. In the past five National Drafts, Essendon has had a total of nine top 30 selections. Those selections have yielded Mark Bolton, Dean Solomon, Mark McVeigh, Adam Ramanauskas, Chris Ladhams, Aaron Henneman, James Davies, Ted Richards and Shane Harvey.

Essendon needs to secure long-term senior footballers this weekend with the midfield the most critical area and perhaps a key position forward. The ruck situation will also come under serious consideration. If a promising youngster can’t be found, the Bombers will probably look for some experience late in the draft. Hille, O’Keefe and Henneman probably give them enough youth to work with. Come 1pm on Sunday all will be revealed. It will lay the foundations for a chapter in the history of this club that is yet to be written.

ESSENDON'S NATIONAL DRAFT SELECTIONS

1986
Draft selection: 9, Andrew Payze from West Torrens. Played 0 matches with Essendon.
Draft selection: 22, Kieran Sporn from West Adelaide. Played 72 matches with Essendon.
Draft selection: 35, Peter Reid from Sturt. Played 0 matches with Essendon.
Draft selection: 48, Stephen Riley from North Adelaide. Played 0 matches with Essendon.
Draft selection: 61, Andrew Underwood from Sturt. Played 12 matches with Essendon.

1987
Draft selection: 6, Andrew Rogers from Woodville. Played 8 matches with Essendon.
Draft selection: 19, Jamie Cox from Wynyard. Played 0 matches with Essendon.
Draft selection: 32, John Cook from Hamilton Imperials. Played 0 matches with Essendon.
Draft selection: 45, David Grenvold from Glenelg. Played 112 matches with Essendon.
Draft selection: 58, Peter Bennett from North Adelaide. Played 0 matches with Essendon.

1988
Draft selection: 9, Michael Werner from West Torrens. Played 40 matches with Essendon.
Draft selection: 12, Brad Fox from Perth. Played 17 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 23, Michael Long from St Marys. Played 190 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 26, David Regan from East Ballarat. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 37, Michael Strickland from Glenorchy. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 51, Adrian Burns from Dromana. Played 11 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 65, Rod Saunders from Mooroopna. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 79, Simon Jorgensen from Castlemaine. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 93, Paul Hills from North Ballarat. Played 63 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 107, Darren Mead from Port Adelaide. Played 0 games with Essendon.

1989
Draft selection: 11, Darren Smith from Port Adelaide. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 12, Gavin Wanganeen from Port Adelaide. Played 127 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 19, Ashley Green from Warragul. Played 23 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 26, Alister Carr from South Bendigo. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 39, Peter Cransberg from East Perth. Played 79 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 40, Travis St.Clair from South Bendigo. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 46, Shane Radbone from Sturt. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 58, Jason Dullard from Bairnsdale. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 65, Alan Schwartz from West Torrens. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 72, Glenn Crawford from Barooga. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 86, Gerrard Harrington from Southport. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 99, Nick Tsiotanis from Bulleen-Templestowe. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 100, David Pittman from Norwood. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 114, Jason Walsgott from West Gambier. Played 0 games with Essendon.

1990
Draft selection: 13, Todd Ridley from Claremont. Played 25 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 21, Richard Ambrose from Shepparton. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 24, John Fidge from Glenelg. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 37, Glen Hoffman from Jeparit. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 51, Jarrod Carter from North Hobart. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 65, Stephen Fry from Clarence. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 79, James Hird from Ainslie. Played 168 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 93, Adam Houlihan from Kyabram. Played 0 games with Essendon.

1991
Draft selection: 8, Michael Symons from Subiaco. Played 109 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 21, Willie Dick from Perth. Played 7 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 37, Ryan O’Connor from Ulverstone. Played 63 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 47, Glenn Manton from Essendon. Played 21 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 48, Kevin Mitchell from Claremont. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 60, James Billington from Subiaco. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 63, Brendan Bower from Richmond. Played 3 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: trade, Sean Denham from Geelong. Played 142 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: trade, Russell Evans from North Melbourne. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: trade, Shane Strempel from Brisbane. Played 0 games with Essendon.

1992
Draft selection: 3, Michael Prior from East Perth. Played 81 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 12, Tony Delaney from Claremont. Played 15 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 20, Scott Cummings from Swan District. Played 40 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 27, Kieran Murrihy from Geelong U18. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 42, Che Cockatoo-Collins from Port Adelaide. Played 85 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 57, Russell Williams from South Fremantle. Played 3 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 72, Matthew Wadewitz from South Adelaide. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 87, Damien Hardwick from Springvale. Played 153 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 102, Jason Bell from Red Cliffs. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 117, Vince Cappadona from Geelong U18. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Father-Son, Dustin Fletcher from Western U18. Played 190 games with Essendon.

1993
Draft selection: 19, Robert Stevenson from Western U18. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 29, Scott Mollard from Central U18. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 36, Julian Kirzner from Central U18. Played 1 game with Essendon.

1994
Draft selection: 4, Scott Lucas from Geelong U18. Played 136 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 10, Blake Caracella from Northern U18. Played 126 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 28, Shane Lewfatt from Western U18. Played 3 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 39, Stephen Carter from Port Adelaide. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 45, Gary Moorcroft from Northern U18. Played 79 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 62, Justin Blumfield from Tuggeranong. Played 129 games with Essendon.

1995
Draft selection: 15, Darren Wheildon from West Adelaide. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 31, Andrew Ukovic from Northern U18. Played 19 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 58, Peter Berbakov from Essendon Reserves. Played 52 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: trade, Paul Barnard from Hawthorn. Played 129 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: trade, Sean Wellman from Adelaide. Played 144 games with Essendon.

1996
Draft selection: 2, Chris Heffernan from Geelong U18. Played 97 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 5, Daniel McAlister from Tasmania U18. Played 6 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 21, Tim Williams from East Perth. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 25, Andrew Bomford from Sydney Reserves. Played 13 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 28, Jason Johnson from Calder U18. Played 88 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 54, Matthew Watson from Essendon Reserves. Played 1 game with Essendon.
Draft selection: 66, Paul Hills from Essendon. Played 0 games with Essendon.

1997
Draft selection: 4, Mark Bolton from Eastern U18. Played 38 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 20, Dean Solomon from Bendigo U18. Played 75 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 36, Judd Lalich from East Perth. Played 17 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 52, Jordon Doering from Bendigo U18. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 68, Simon Eastaugh from Norwood. Played 17 games with Essendon.

1998
Draft selection: 9, Mark McVeigh from NSW-ACT U18. Played 57 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 12, Adam Ramanauskas from Dandenong U18. Played 74 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 23, Chris Ladhams from North Adelaide. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 25, Aaron Henneman from Murray U18. Played 35 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 36, Danny Jacobs from Prahan U18. Played 57 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 56, Illija Grgic from West Coast. Played 2 games with Essendon.

1999
Draft selection: 40, David Hille from Dandenong U18. Played 25 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 45, Marcus Pickett from Port Adelaide. Played 0 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 59, John Barnes from Geelong. Played 46 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 72, Robert Forster-Knight from Murray U18. Played 27 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: trade, Jonathon Robran from Hawthorn. Played 8 games with Essendon.

2000
Draft selection: 17, James Davies from Xavier. Played 1 game with Essendon.
Draft selection: 27, Ted Richards from Sandringham U18. Played 2 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 32, Sam Hunt from Geelong U18. Played 3 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 47, Jordan Bannister from Calder U18. Played 9 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 63, Marc Bullen from Murray U18. Played 4 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 74, Michael Davis from Sandringham. Played 0 games with Essendon.

2001
Draft selection: 18, Shane Harvey from Northern U18. Played 7 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 31, Joel Reynolds from Geelong U18. Played 9 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 47, Andrew Welsh from Calder U18. Played 15 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 50, Paul Salmon from Hawthorn. Played 15 games with Essendon.
Draft selection: 64, Daniel McAlister from Essendon. Played 8 games with Essendon.