Training at Tullamarine on the McCracken Oval in balmy conditions.
Excellent atmosphere at training today, ebullient, jovial and above all eager. Wily Worsfold told the players that the team wouldn’t be picked until after training which may account for some of the enthusiasm but based on what I saw today expect a good effort against Gold Coast and probably a win.
Ball movement was quicker and more direct today and the usual skill errors of dropped marks and mis directed kicks were still there but basically the players were blending together as well as I have seen so far in a short sharp session which was punctuated by a noisy, enthusiastic session of contested work in the hangar.
I didn’t see Jamar, Ashby did some walking on the boundary line. Grima did some laps moving well and looking physically menacing while Tom Wallis is running well and looks on track for a successful recovery.
The only down side was Fantasia who looked like he hit his head on the ground when laying a tackle and he walked off shakily with the doctor. His pace is good but I suspect he needs to be a bit more decisive with his ball use so I suspect he won’t be selected just yet even if okay after his knock.
Bird was a little more prominent today in the early drills today and assisted with the plan to move the ball through the middle. In one passage of play Walla and Zac Merret did particularly well with a coach praising them for “great ball movement, fantastic Zacy, Walla, opened up the whole of the ground.” I know that you will enjoy reading about one of Walla’s tricks - running up the ground with the ball he saw out of the corner of his eye a player in a good position, parallel and to his right. Without looking he kicked the ball off the outside of his boot at right angles for a perfect look-away pass.
Langford and LaVerde both took good overhead marks. Langford ran well all over the ground and is developing into a very good player indeed as he transitions from being a good Teal Cup player to learning to cope with the pressure of the AFL game. LaVerde and Francis both look promising but are probably not doing enough yet to get selected. LaVerde has had an interrupted preseason and Francis also needs to build up his fitness.
Parish is a chance to play winning a lot of possessions while the veteran Kelly rarely missed a target. I think Jackson Merret will be in as he is winning more of the ball than in the past although I feel that his disposal has dropped away a little this year.
I must conclude with two of the things that make Essendon such a good club. Harry, the doyen of security and spy detection, brought along some of his home made scones before training (a secret recipe using lemonade and cream apparently) and his wife Jean provided her excellent plum jam - how good is that!
In keeping with a long standing tradition at Essendon Mark Doran, better known around the club as the Phantom, addressed the players before their first game. His text was “Do the little things well.” but his really sage advice was “When you’re kicking for goal ignore the little man in your head!”
The fabric of this football club is outstanding - look forward to a win first up.