Experienced Bomber Michael Hartley didn't have the impact he would have hoped for in 2019, playing just three AFL games.

Unsighted at senior level until round 18 as a replacement for the injured Michael Hurley, Hartley was instead a constant in Essendon VFL's run to a preliminary final.

Playing 17 VFL games, the 26-year-old's versatility proved an asset, seeing him lead the VFL Bombers' defence in the first half of the season before stints in the ruck and forward line.

A consistent, dependable performer in the VFL, one of his best performances came against eventual premier Richmond in the qualifying final.

Playing forward and pinch-hitting in the ruck, Hartley booted three goals and took a whopping six contested marks in the heartbreaking two-point loss.

Despite limited opportunities at senior level, you can never question the effort of the popular clubman, who currently remains uncontracted.  


Games: 3

Goals: 0

Average disposals: 14.3

Average marks: 5.7 

Average rebound 50s: 3.3

Average one-percenters: 9


Hartley's leadership was invaluable in the absence of Hurley against the Crows at Adelaide Oval in round 18.

Patrolling the backline in his first senior game since Anzac Day last year, Hartley led the Bombers for contested possessions (11) and contested marks (two), tallying 16 disposals, seven marks and five intercept possessions in the process.

His ability to fill the void was critical in arguably Essendon's best win of the season.


Currently out of contract, Hartley faces a nervous wait to see if he'll stay a Bomber in 2020.

Should he be offered a new contract, he'll be determined to earn back a regular spot in the 22 and notch up 50 AFL games.

Just six games shy of the milestone, it's been a slow journey for Hartley, who was originally drafted to Collingwood as a rookie in 2012 before making his way to Essendon via the 2015 national draft.