West Coast Eagles against Essendon tonight is the story (from a statistical point of view) of plenty playing few.
There are many reasons for this: Essendon’s long and illustrious history in the VFL/AFL now covers 120 years and 1142 players have now represented the club, meaning that only the top 8.75% make it into the club’s Top 100 of all time. Contrast this with West Coast Eagles’ mere 30 years and 228 players (43.75% representation) and you will understand how much harder it is to make the party list at Essendon in normal circumstances.
The circumstances this year, however, are far from normal with Essendon being decimated by the suspension of nearly all the club’s playing list and thus having to rely on senior imports and junior recruits to make up the team.
At the same time, West Coast Eagles, in fine form and with an experienced list have 17 players tonight in the Top 100 for the club and most will improve their position by playing tonight. Essendon have one player within the Top 100 of the club’s game players (David Zaharakis) and he is joined by one other in Essendon’s Top 100 goal kickers (Joe Daniher).
David’s game tonight means he will be tied with Neville Fields and Paul Barnard and – if he can sneak a goal tonight it will put him into the Top 70 goal kickers of all time at Essendon, equal with Gary Moorecroft, Vince Irwin and Murray Exelby in 69th position.
Joe Daniher, with one goal will equal Len Johnson, with two goals will equal Justin Bloomfield and with 4 goals will equal Gary O’Donnell and Stephen Copping.
Ironically, the filling of the list with senior imports means that Essendon after tonight will have 2 players who are members of the all time Top 100 game players in the VFL/AFL!
James Kelly -after a stellar career with Geelong – made the Top 100 all time game players earlier this season and this week will move to equal 93rd with Ryan O’Keefe, Peter Bell and Gary Ablett whilst Brendan Goddard – who began his career at St Kilda – will join Richard Osborne and Tony Libratore in the “death seat” of 99th position and therefore still in danger of dropping out of the Top 100 before the end of the current season.
On the goal kicking front, this year’s most successful new addition, West Coast Eagle’s Josh Kennedy needs just one goal to tie with Anthony Rocca in 88th position on the all time AFL/VFL goal kicking list.
At West Coast, Jack Darling, Luke Shuey and Jamie Cripps wth modest goal totals will all improve their ranking.