Legendary sports broadcaster Bruce McAvaney says there’s an air of freshness surrounding Essendon, which has him excited about the club’s 2020 prospects.
McAvaney, who is preparing to call his 26th and most unique AFL season with Channel 7, said while he still viewed the Bombers as unpredictable, he was more optimistic about where they were headed in 2020.
“They’re always interesting, Essendon - big club, huge support, great passion, incredible history and due for a good one,” McAvaney said on Working Through It.
“The club’s been through a lot, and there’s got to be residual with that. You just don’t brush that off and move on. That hangs, but I feel like that’s dropped off.
“I feel like it’s a group that can attack this season without the residual. There’s a lot of talent there, but everything has to go right – no big injuries, and you’d love Joe Daniher to have a big season.
“The coaching situation’s interesting. I reckon it’s (succession plan) going to be smooth, and don’t feel like it’s going to be disruptive.
“The on-field stars, the people that lead the team, I think there’s enough of them.
“I’m excited about the club’s prospects, but like everyone else, I couldn’t be confident in saying where they’re going to finish up this year.
“They’re a tricky team to assess. I call them a fair bit. Their best is good enough to be very dangerous.”
For all his decades of experience as a doyen of Australian sports broadcasting, McAvaney will face the most unique challenge of his career as he prepares to call AFL games without crowds and possibly from a remote location.
The Adelaide-based 67-year-old said he was mentally prepared for the difficult task.
"It's going to be a challenge in a lot of ways. There's no crowd, no atmosphere. That is a big thing, a really big thing,” he said.
“One of my challenges is I’m not sure where I’m going to be. I can’t really come to Melbourne without coming back to Adelaide and doing quarantine, so this is something I’m discussing with Channel 7 at the moment.
“The other thing is not being at the ground. You spend so much of your time as a caller at looking off the ball. If we’re not at the ground, it’s going to be a massive challenge.
“It’s going to be difficult, but I’m not intimidated by it. I’m looking at it as a challenge. I’m nearly 67, and I think to myself, how lucky am I? How lucky am I to have these challenges so late in my career, that I’m not being blasé, complacent and just going through the motions?
“I mightn’t be good enough to do it, but I’m going to have a swing. I’m going to have a real crack, and If I can’t pull it off, I can at least say I did my best.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’m not frightened about failing, I’m frightened about not doing my best, and that’s the philosophy I’ve got.”
Scroll below for a replay of Working Through It and episode guide.
7:15 - James Hird and Jobe Watson throw the important questions to Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell around the current AFL landscape.
16:41 - Essendon assistant coach Blake Caracella joins the show.
18:15 - Caracella on the revered senior coaches he's worked under.
21:45 - Caracella on how the Bombers are progressing ahead of the season restart.
28:17 - Hird's memories of Caracella the player.
33:15 - Campbell clears up an important membership question from Hird.
39:25 - Bruce McAvaney joins the show.
39:55 - How McAvaney tackled the lockdown period.
55:10 - The challenges of commentating games without crowds, and how McAvaney is going to adapt.
1:02:07 - The making of McAvaney, and what he learned about resilience.
1:07:30 - McAvaney chooses his Your Call from Home winner.
1:15:15 - This week's Coles Mighty Moment - Kevin Sheedy's famous jacket wave in round 16, 1993.
1:18:12 - A significant call from Trevor Tann, who heads up the WA Bombers.
1:23:10 - Wrapping up the show with answers to fans' questions.