Heppell joins long list of unlucky Bombers

DYSON Heppell is the latest Bomber to be a casualty of Essendon’s milestone misery, but he has joined a long list. 

Heppell on Saturday night played his 200th game for the Bombers – on the same day he turned 30 – but was part of a side that was thrashed at the SCG as the club’s horror season continued.

The pre-game celebration of family and friends on the ground for the Essendon captain to run through the banner was short-lived with the post-game fallout again focusing on another listless performance. 

Heppell shouldn’t take it too personally. He is just the most recent Bomber to have a celebration match spoiled with defeat. 

Dyson Heppell runs out ahead of his 200th game against Sydney in round nine on May 16, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

History shows that since 2005, Essendon has won just eight of their past 31 games when one of its players has reached a significant personal games milestone – games of either 150, 200, 250, 300, 350 or 400 with the club. 

Since champion goalkicker Matthew Lloyd reached his 200th game with a win over St Kilda in round 13, 2005, the Bombers have won less than a quarter of their milestone games.

The likes of Cale Hooker (losses in 200th and 150th games), Jobe Watson (losses in 200th and 150th games), Dustin Fletcher (loss in 400th and 300th games) and Heppell (who also lost his 150th game) are among the distinguished Essendon players to have felt defeat in key games. 

Dustin Fletcher walks off after his 400th and final game against Richmond in round nine, 2015. Picture: AFL Photos

The list only includes players who have reached the milestones playing all of the games for the Bombers. For instance, former Bomber Brendon Goddard’s 300th game (having crossed from St Kilda after 205 games) didn’t count in the list – for the record, it was a loss. 

Of course, through this period Essendon has largely been a mediocre side, with the milestone malaise being tracked back to the season that followed their most recent finals win in 2004. It also comes during the club’s least successful era of its history, with the drought without a finals win set to extend another year after its 2-7 start to 2022.

Coaches have always spoken of milestone games as important, but that it shouldn’t affect a team’s performance or mindset. Nevertheless, Essendon’s record in milestone games actually worsens in comparison to their overall win-loss over the same period of time. 

ESSENDON’S WIN/LOSS IN MILESTONE GAMES

Match

Result

Player

Club Games

Ag

Margin

2022 R9

L

Dyson Heppell

200

Sydney

-58

2021 R8

L

Zach Merrett

150

GWS

-2

2020 R15

L

Cale Hooker

200

West Coast

-15

2019 R15

W

David Zaharakis

200

GWS

6

2018 R22

L

Dyson Heppell

150

Richmond

-8

2018 R12

W

Michael Hurley

150

Brisbane

22

2017 R19

L

Cale Hooker

150

Western Bulldogs

-30

2017 R3

L

David Zaharakis

150

Carlton

-15

2017 R2

W

Brent Stanton

250

Brisbane

27

2015 R14

L

Jobe Watson

200

St Kilda

-110

2015 R9

L

Dustin Fletcher

400

Richmond

-13

2014 R01

W

Paddy Ryder

150

North Melbourne

39

2013 R20

L

Brent Stanton

200

West Coast

-53

2012 R23

L

Angus Monfries

150

Collingwood

-32

2012 R19

L

Jobe Watson

150

Adelaide

-4

2012 R3

W

Dustin Fletcher

350

Gold Coast

17

2011 R11

L

Brent Stanton

150

Melbourne

-33

2010 R15

L

Mark McVeigh

200

Melbourne

-19

2010 R5

L

Andrew Welsh

150

Collingwood

-65

2010 R1

L

David Hille

150

Geelong

-31

2009 R6

L

Dustin Fletcher

300

Brisbane

-43

2008 R20

L

Matthew Lloyd

250

Adelaide

-56

2008 R11

L

Scott Lucas

250

Hawthorn

-51

2007 R14

L

James Hird

250

Geelong

-50

2007 R9

W

Mark McVeigh

150

Richmond

8

2006 R12

L

Dean Solomon

150

Melbourne

-36

2006 R10

L

Dustin Fletcher

250

Adelaide

-138

2005 R21

W

Jason Johnson

150

Carlton

99

2005 R20

L

Mark Johnson

150

Hawthorn

-13

2005 R19

L

Scott Lucas

200

Sydney

-20

2005 R13

W

Matthew Lloyd

200

St Kilda

15