After a horrid 110 point loss against St. Kilda in Round 14, Essendon vowed to come out fighting. History was rehashed with Kevin Sheedy, the eternal optimist reminding the football world about his 26 goal loss to Hawthorn in 1992, August 1st to be exact. Sheedy reminded us all that the following week, again against Melbourne, Essendon bounced back and the following year won a flag. He also reminded us that out of that dark game there was a positive. Against Melbourne, a young man taken at the lowly draft pick of #79 made his debut. His name was James Hird.
Now it is Hird's turn to be in the hot seat. Under fire for the last 2 and half years, compounded by 2015s poor form, Hird needed to win. After St. Kilda Hird expressed his extreme disappointment in the game, but mostly his apologies were targeted to the Essendon fans. Hird knows more than any other coach how vital the fan-base is. After all, you can argue that he is only still in his job because of them. Hird was adamant that the fans deserved better, and the fans will get better than what was on show against St. Kilda
So how did Hird act on his vow? After the much talked about honesty sessions and some hard work on the track, Hird also made 5 changes. 3 of the changes were forced, with a season ending injury to skipper Jobe Watson and mild hamstrings to Adam Cooney and Jake Melksham. Hird recalled the services of Shaun Edwards, Jason Ashby, Patrick Ambrose and Alex Browne after a knee reconstruction in 2012. Hird also gave young Jayden Laverde a shot in the seniors after some impressive form in the VFL. This came at the expense of Courtenay Dempsey and Elliot Kavanagh.
This meant that Essendon fielded the youngest side they have ever fielded since 2008. 12 players had less than 50 games experience, 11 of those had less than 40. It was a very brave move for a coach who really needed the win to lessen the ever mounting pressure, but it worked. The effort and intensity seen by this week's Essendon outfit was tremendous. A full breakdown of the statistics will be up later.
The final siren blew to a 9 point Essendon victory, the first in 6 games. Experienced warrior Brent Stanton had a day out, as did defender Michael Hurley and spearhead Joe Daniher - who kicked the goal that steadied the ship when Melbourne came with a final surge. The hash tag #babybombers was trending on social media
The only thing now for Essendon to do to have the 92/93 history repeat itself is to win the flag next year, but I'm not here to make that kind of bold prediction. What we have already been shown is that while a lot changes over the football landscape, the pace at which the game can change has not and every week is still a new week, regardless of your result.
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