Essendon VFL captain Aaron Heppell has thanked the Bomber faithful for willing his side to victory in its nail-biting semi-final against Werribee.
High winds and heavy rain didn't deter Essendon fans at Adcon Stadium on Sunday, who turned up in droves and had a telling impact on the players, according to Heppell.
“I couldn’t believe it. (The rain) was coming down sideways at time, and we still had a full crowd of support there," Heppell said.
“It was an awesome feeling. We relish the crowd noise and just love it.”
The VFL Bombers held a two-goal lead heading into the final quarter of the do-or-die clash, before the Tigers pounced and chipped away to leave the Bombers trailing by two points.
Directly involved in the passage of play that set up Tuth Jok with the match-winning goal, Heppell was relieved to avoid a case of déjà vu.
“We were pretty disappointed to get done by the (Richmond) Tigers in the last quarter (last week), but we learnt a lot from that game,” Heppell said.
“When we were faced with a similar situation coming into the last quarter (against Werribee), we knew our game plan and stuck to that.
“Werribee is a great outfit and we knew it would bring the contest. They implemented a really good game-plan and it worked for most of the game, but we were lucky enough to sneak one very late.”
The skipper finished the day with 18 disposals (15 contested), five clearances and four tackles, setting the tone with his work-rate and effort.
He was also one of eight individual goalkickers, admitting the even spread of contributors was pleasing to see.
“Pressure is massive in finals, and finals footy really takes a step up with that so it was something I really wanted to focus on.
“Getting forward for a goal as well is always nice. I don’t get to kick many, but that (selfless footy) has been a big focus of ours all year. We don’t need any individual heroes, just 23 blokes all playing their role and that’s what happened today.”
The VFL Bombers celebrate at the final siren. (Photo: Ben Johnstone)
Looking ahead to this weekend’s preliminary final against Williamstown, the captain is hoping to go one step further than last season.
“I’ve played in a few prelims, as well as a few against ‘Willy’. They’ve been there before and we’ve been there before, so we’re both very experienced sides.
“I just hope we can bring it and get to the big dance.”
Essendon VFL will face Williamstown on Sunday, September 15 from 2:10pm at Adcon Stadium, with the winner to meet either Richmond or Port Melbourne in the Grand Final at Ikon Park on Sunday, September 22.