Essendon to celebrate flags, rivalry with Hawthorn

Oliver Caffrey |

Brad Scott’s modern-day Bombers will take inspiration from glories of the past.
Brad Scott’s modern-day Bombers will take inspiration from glories of the past.

Essendon will celebrate the past on a day they attempt to start putting a miserable 20-year period behind them.

Premiership greats from their famous 1984 grand final comeback win against Hawthorn will seek to inspire Brad Scott’s modern-day Bombers in Saturday’s grudge match with the Hawks at the MCG.

Essendon are hoping to draw a crowd of 80,000 for the match, which would be the biggest home-and-away attendance for a Bombers-Hawks match on record.

The clubs have been in discussion to lock in the clash as a permanent part of the round-one fixture every season.

“It’s an unbelievable period in our club’s history,” Scott said, reflecting on those Bombers-Hawks encounters of yesteryear.

“To play it against Hawthorn, a period of football through the ’80s, there was no bigger rivalry than Essendon and Hawthorn. The rivalry is real.

“We’ll certainly reference it, we’ll certainly reflect on that part of the club’s history – but (we’ll) very quickly come back to the job.”

Former players including Tim Watson, Terry Daniher and Simon Madden – stars in the 1984-85 flags – will be in and around the rooms.

“It’s just one of the great parts of football, long after you’ve retired and stepped out of a coaching role,” Scott said.

“Every single Essendon function, meeting, coterie, group event I go to, Terry Daniher’s there.”

The Bombers will roll out all of their off-season recruits – Xavier Duursma (Port Adelaide), Ben McKay and Todd Goldstein (both North Melbourne), and Jade Gresham (St Kilda) – to face the Hawks.

In a major boost for Essendon’s defence, emerging tall Zach Reid has been declared fit to play his first AFL game since the end of 2022.

After enduring a tough run with injury, star ruck Sam Draper will work back to full fitness through the VFL.

Nick Watson at the AFL draft.
Highly rated teen Nick Watson is in line to make his first appearance for the Hawks. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

Former Collingwood forward Jack Ginnivan, ex-Gold Coast and Richmond tall Mabior Chol, Essendon recruit Massimo D’Ambrosio, and talented draftee Nick Watson will make their first appearances for Hawthorn.

“Nick is going to play some really good footy, I don’t think anyone doubts that,” Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell said of the 19-year-old Watson.  

“But is he going to play well every single week and be a 50-goal first year player?

“I hope so, but I wouldn’t put that sort of expectation on him.”