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Bombers' statistical anomaly

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There is a statistical anomaly at Essendon that stands out from the crowd.

The Bombers will enter next season as the fifth-oldest list in the competition, which may not surprise given the familiar names and heavy recruiting from rival clubs in the past two seasons.

However, coach John Worsfold will also lead the only club in the AFL next year not to have a 200-game player on its list.

Essendon is mature, but its experience does not match up.   

Following the departure of Brendon Goddard, midfielder David Zaharakis has played the most games of any Bomber, with 187 appearances since his debut in 2009.

Across AFL lists for next year, the average games played is 64.

Hawthorn is the most experienced with an average of 80 games, while Gold Coast sits at the least experienced end with an average of 50 games for every player.

Essendon is ranked third last with an average of just 56 games, ahead of only Brisbane and the Suns – clubs which have stocked up on early draft picks and youngsters in recent seasons.

Seven clubs have four or more players who have notched 200 games, with Sydney leading the League with six players past the milestone.

There are 53 players in the AFL to have played 200 or more games, but just six who have crossed the 300-game barrier (Hawthorn star Shaun Burgoyne is the most experienced, starting next season with 358 games to his name).

The last time Essendon started a season without a 200-game player on its list was nearly 40 years ago, when they went into 1982 with Neville Fields (197 games to that stage) as their most experienced player.

There are reasons for Essendon's numbers.

The majority of Essendon's core senior players – including Michael Hurley, Tom Bellchambers, Cale Hooker and Dyson Heppell – missed a full season through WADA-imposed suspension in 2016.

Plus, the Bombers have two players who will be 28 at the start of next season – Mitch Brown and Shaun McKernan – who have played just 54 and 62 games respectively.

They have pushed up Essendon's average age, but through injury and lack of opportunity, have not been able to cement a place at AFL level across their careers.

AFL clubs and their amount of 200-gamers:

6 – Sydney (leading games, Jarrad McVeigh, 319)
5 – Geelong (Gary Ablett, 321)
5 – Richmond (Jack Riewoldt, 249)
4 – Adelaide (Eddie Betts, 295)
4 – Collingwood (Scott Pendlebury, 277)
4 – Hawthorn (Shaun Burgoyne, 358)
4 – Port Adelaide (Justin Westhoff, 248)
3 – Carlton (Kade Simpson, 307)
3 – Fremantle (David Mundy, 294)
3 – GWS Giants (Heath Shaw, 282)
3 – North Melbourne (Scott Thompson, 222)
2 – Gold Coast (Michael Rischitelli, 236)
2 – West Coast (Shannon Hurn, 248)
1 – Brisbane (Luke Hodge, 324)
2 – Melbourne (Jordan Lewis, 307)
1 – St Kilda (Dan Hannebery, 208)
1 – Western Bulldogs (Dale Morris, 252)
0 – Essendon (David Zaharakis, 187)

*Statistics supplied by AFL statistician Cam Sinclair
**Age averages based on date of a team's round one, 2019 game


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The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs