Essendon have had middling success for years now, having made the finals two of the past three seasons, but trading in a very proactive and aggressive way that is associated with a club inside their premiership window.
Essendon were looking to reverse their Round 1 thrashing by the Giants in Sydney and had plenty of incentive to do so.
Club stalwart David Zaharakis will play his 200th game for the Bombers and join the other 27 elite players at the club to achieve this milestone.
With Lance Franklin not playing this round due to injury, his double ton will be the highest traditional milestone of the round. Zaharakis will join Glenn Hawker, who was traded to Carlton as part of a swap deal in 1989 after he had played in the 1984 and 1985 premiership teams and won the club’s best and fairest in 1986.
At the other end of the scale, the Bombers will welcome back Martin Gleeson, who missed all of the 2018 season with a foot injury and then suffered a fractured cheekbone. Gleeson had managed 69 games in his first four seasons at the club.
For the Giants, Dylan Shiel’s star will dim slightly as he is joined by Toby Greene as the fourth greatest game player for the club.
On Friday night, Geelong will be smarting from the beating they received from Port Adelaide last week and will want to show their home supporters that they are still the team to beat for this year’s flag with an impressive performance against Adelaide.
Most of their elite players will reach new heights on the top 100 game players list.
The current leading game player at the club, Joel Selwood, will play his 284th game and become the equal seventh greatest game player at the Cats, sharing the position with Matthew Scarlett. Scarlett was a son of a gun – his father John was known as Gunner and both players enjoyed a huge reputation with Cats fans.
Harry Taylor, who last week played his 250th game, this week matches the game tally of Paul Chapman. Chappy played for Geelong from 2000 to 2013 and then extended his football life with two years at Essendon. He played in three premierships for the Cats and won the club’s best and fairest in 2006. In the 2009 premiership, he won the Norm Smith Medal for best on ground.
Tom Hawkins climbs into equal 19th position with former Geelong captain Cameron Ling, while Gary Ablett passes Neville Bruns, who played in two grand finals.
Mitch Duncan draws level with Dick Grigg, who played his first game in 1904 against Collingwood and won four best and fairest awards at Geelong before retiring in 1914, but then – seven years later – was recalled as a 36-year-old to play two games in the finals.
Further down the list, Mark Blicavs passes Mark Bairstow and joins Geoff Rosenow on 147 games. Rosenow was a policeman and was originally recruited from Murray River town Echuca. He played for the club from 1962 until 1970 and died in 1999, aged 57.