Season review: Michael Hartley
This time last season Michael Hartley was a VFL defender hoping for another shot in the AFL.
His first foray into the big time had been derailed by shoulder problems.
But Hartley rediscovered his form and fitness with Coburg, culminating in his selection in the VFL Team of the Year and a few months later selection by Essendon in the National Draft.
Following the departure of Dustin Fletcher, Hartley offered key defensive depth.
But his signing proved even more advantageous when All-Australian defenders Michael Hurley and Cale Hooker were ruled out for the season.
Hartley made his debut in round two against Melbourne.
He went on to play 19 games and along the way broke the record for the most one-percenters by an Essendon player in a single game and the record for the most one-percenters by an Essendon player in a season.
With a booming kick and strong aerial game, Hartley became a key member of the Bombers line-up.
“Harts has been one of the exciting young players we have seen step up to the challenge of playing and competing at the elite level this season,” Coach John Worsfold said.
“He has worked extremely hard on his development this season, he’s done a tremendous job for us as playing at full-back and he’s also learnt a lot from playing on some of the competitions big power forwards.
“We’re really excited about where we are heading as a Club and to have Harts part of this journey next year is fantastic.”
Earlier this month, Hartley signed a two-year contract extension that will see him remain at the Bombers until at least the end of 2018.
"The playing group is in a really good place, the next few years are going to be exciting for the football club and it's great to be a part of it," Hartley said.
"I'm pumped that I'm going to have the opportunity to play alongside Michael Hurley down back. He's one of just a number of really experienced players who will come back next season, but we're under no illusion that it's going to take plenty of hard work if we're to be competitive.
"Playing under Woosha has been fantastic for my development, I've got a lot of hard work ahead of me but I'm really excited to be able to spend another two years learning and developing in the elite football environment he's established."
*A ‘one percenter’ is a knock-on, smother, spoil or shepherd.
Most one percenters in a season (Essendon)
2016: Michael Hartley – 185
2011: Kyle Hardingham – 157
2012: Kyle Hardingham – 144
2014: Cale Hooker – 126
2011: Dustin Fletcher – 125
2007: Mal Michael – 125
2013: Jake Carlisle – 124
2010: Dustin Fletcher – 122
2006: Dustin Fletcher – 120
2004: Dustin Fletcher – 117
Most one percenters in a game (Essendon)
Michael Hartley – 20 v St Kilda 2016
Kyle Hardingham – 17 v Adelaide 2011
Kyle Hardingham – 17 v Nth Melb 2012
Patrick Ryder – 16 v Collingwood 2011
Mark Bolton – 15 v Geelong 2002
Dustin Fletcher – 15 v Melbourne 2003
Jake Carlisle – 15 v Collingwood 2013
Michael Hurley – 15 v West Coast 2011
Dustin Fletcher – 14 v Collinwood 2006
Dustin Fletcher – 14 v Brisbane 2014