Essendon in 2024 - Culture Transformation

An interesting article, from Fox Footy last night.

David King is polarising but on this, he’s right.

Are Essendon still too nice? Is Essendon’s culture still not ruthless enough?

Some good questions and I think there’s quite a bit of validity to Kings comments.

2024 such an important year to show the AFL world Essendon is becoming more of a competitive and robust footy club.


Kingy’s had a go at us pre-season?



I actually think he’s spot on. It’s held Essendon back for over a decade. Its bled down from the highest levels in the Club, created during the fallout of the saga, and held the club back since.


If Mick Malthouse or Robert Walls could join in and claim us for the spoon, that would really help seal the deal.


If that happens, I bet the AFL will instruct the premiership cup maker to engrave Essendon into it the next day.


It’s not us being nice. It’s us being not properly led. Nobody raising standards and insisting on them. We’re not fit enough, we don’t work hard enough. That’s the cultural problem, not bloody “niceness”.


Let’s call a spade a spade here - we’re SOFT. Have been for years, on and off field.


Normally the cycle is:

King blows smoke up our arse.
We play garbage.
He doubts us.
We play well.

We’ve skipped the first two steps without actually starting the season. LID OFF.


From the article:

“I think the fans are sick of it, just being a so-so team,” King told Fox Footy’s First Crack on Monday. “The talent has always read better than the results – and that (Essendon’s ladder positions over past seasons) highlights it better than any other graph you’ll see.”

King said his “big worry” for the Bombers ahead of the 2024 season was that they’re still “a nice footy club”.

“Last year was the time to call it for Dyson Heppell, but they go another year. Now they’ll try and service Dyson – whether that’s as a wingman or half-back – and I don’t think that really helps the way they want to be express and move the football,” he said.

“Does Jake Stringer just beat bottom-10 teams or does he actually change games against top-eight teams? They’ve got to make some tough calls there.

“Andrew McGrath, nice player – Pick 1, playing back pocket? You’ve got to demand more of each other. They’ve got to ask for more.

“I think it’s time to raise the bar. If you’re an Essendon player or Essendon supporter, you should want more. I mean, who really plays with any anger to change the course of games aside from Sam Draper? I just don’t see it.

“They’ve been a nice footy club for too long and they need to do something to stop this meandering existence they’ve had of just being an average footy team.”

Hits the nail on the head. Especially regarding Heppell. Nobody seems to have the pills to call it as they see it and let him know he’s finished. He’s not just gone on one too many seasons, it’s two. The time to sever ties was at the end of 2022 when he was flirting with joining the Suns. Until we are able to make those tough but fair decisions we will still be treading water and no threat to anyone.


Essendon is a ‘nice club’ though. Essendon lost its ruthless edge, its extroverted persona, its AFL industry voice and influence and its swagger years ago. It’s become shy, introverted and inoffensive footy club.

Yes it’s leaders. McGrath and Dyson get the focus. But I think it’s beyond a few blokes on the ground. It’s our leaders off field and as I said, out of the saga we had to be empathetic, understanding and ‘nice’ to our own stakeholders and to everyone in the AFL industry.

To me nowadays, Essendon is that quiet and well behaved club in the suburbs of Melbourne. It’s not that influential voice, aggressive and pioneering club of yesteryear. And I think all that feeds into Essendon’s brand and its being noted by the footy world, David King just the latest boffin to call out the problem.


On and off field…

It’s much broader than a few on field leaders and players. Its institutionalised. That’s culture and this is why I keep talking about the most important thing Essendon must do is fix its culture to be successful. And being ‘a nice footy club’ is one of the things the footy world sees in Essendon. That’s the brand.

Essendon gets pushed around on the field, and off it. I mean, it was left to Melbourne, Richmond and Hawthorn to tackle Collingwood to recoup priority members reserved seating bays in the Ponsford Stand at the MCG for our home matches. Essendon wasn’t driving it.


Its not just that we have been soft, we have been incredibly dumb both on and off the field for a long time.

Like I said to the guys at the Charity Day, hate Collingwood and Geelong all you want but they are smart football clubs. They don’t make popular decisions, they make smart decisions


That’s a separate bucket, I don’t disagree.

We hear the same ■■■■ every single year and yet nothing changes.


We are glad to simply exist


We’re a meme club who has been relegated to Sunday twilight games at Marvel Stadium.

We have the worst on field leaders in the game.

We get bullied on field. Players don’t stick up for each other and turn away.

We have some of the most shockingly bad player development in the game. Players come to us and get worse

Thats just a few off the top of my head.
We are a decade away from cultural change.

*note, Heppell was done 3 years ago, not pushing him out is another indictment on list management.


Same list manager.
Same board (more or less).
Same strength and conditioning.

Of course nothing changes. It’s the emperor’s new clothes…

1 Like

just another thread to discuss whats wrong with this club.

amazing really


Hopefully in 2-3 years we won’t need to.