2021 AFL preview: Essendon Bombers team guide

Can the rebuilding Bombers surprise the AFL world with a surge into the finals in 2021?

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Essendon president Paul Brasher says the Bombers' priority this year will be the development of younger players. The club finished 13th on the ladder last year and most AFL experts are tipping roughly the same result this season.

The Dons' playing list is the second least experienced in the AFL on games played. They have had to turn to the draft following the departures of Joe Daniher, Orazio Fantasia, Conor McKenna and Adam Saad.

The Bombers have gained five first-round draft picks. They are Nik Cox, Zach Reid and Archie Perkins (all from 2020), plus ex-Giant midfielder Jye Caldwell (2018 draft) and former Suns forward Peter Wright (2014 draft).

Expect the Bombers to be more explosive in their attack under first-year coach Ben Rutten. Their biggest concern is a lack of size in the midfield. Dons fans will need to be patient with a big picture view.

How to watch Essendon Bombers AFL matches

Essendon supporters can follow their favourite team live and free on the Seven Network. However, Channel 7 only broadcasts between three and five matches per week, which vary from state to state.

Serious Essendon fans and AFL enthusiasts in general might want to look into getting a paid subscription if they don't want to miss any games. Kayo Sports, Foxtel and Foxtel Now offer all fixtures apart the grand final live and on demand, so you can take your pick based on your viewing habits.


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Take Kayo Sports' Basic or Premium plan for a spin and stream over 50 sports live completely free for 14 days.

If you're not keen on getting pay TV, Kayo Sports is affordable, with subscriptions starting at $25 a month. This buys you access to more than 50 sports and cool features like SplitView and Interactive Stats that make sports streaming a breeze. Plus, new users get a 14-day free trial to see if the platform is a good fit. Our Kayo vs Foxtel guide should help you figure out which provider works best for you.

Check out our guide on how to stream the 2021 AFL season for more information.

Watch Essendon Bombers matches overseas

If you need to travel outside Australia during the AFL season you can still keep up with the Bombers. Thanks to Watch AFL, you don't have to miss a minute of the action. The platform enables you to stream games via the Internet without breaking the bank. We have an article on how to stream the 2021 AFL season from overseas that will help you get started.

Travelling abroad? Watch the entire AFL season live

Travelling abroad? Watch the entire AFL season live from Watch AFL

If you're out of the country, streaming Aussie rules football can be a bit of a pain. For those travelling the globe, there's Watch AFL.

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When do Essendon Bombers play next?

Their first fixture in the 2021 AFL season will be against Hawthorn on 20 March. Here's the upcoming schedule for the Essendon Bombers. You can see the complete AFL draw here.

Round Date Match Stadium Start time (AEDT) How to watch
Round 1 Saturday, 20 March Essendon vs Hawthorn Marvel Stadium, VIC 7:25 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Round 2 Saturday, 27 March Port Adelaide vs Essendon Adelaide Oval, SA 4:35 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Round 3 Saturday, 3 April Essendon vs St Kilda Marvel Stadium, VIC 4:35 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Round 4 Thursday, 8 April Sydney Swans vs Essendon SCG, NSW 8:20 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Round 5 Saturday, 17 April Brisbane Lions vs Essendon Gabba, QLD 8:25 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Round 6 Sunday, 25 April Collingwood vs Essendon MCG, VIC 4:20 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Round 7 Sunday, 2 May Essendon vs Carlton MCG, VIC 3:20 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Round 8 Saturday, 8 May GWS Giants vs Essendon GIANTS Stadium, NSW 2:10 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Round 9 Sunday, 16 May Essendon vs Fremantle Marvel Stadium, VIC 1:10 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Round 10 Sunday, 23 May Essendon vs North Melbourne Marvel Stadium, VIC 4:40 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Round 11 Saturday, 29 May West Coast Eagles vs Essendon Optus Stadium, WA 7:40 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Round 12 Saturday, 5 June Essendon vs Richmond MCG, VIC 7:10 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Round 14 Sunday ,20 June Hawthorn Hawks vs Essendon MCG, VIC 3:20 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Round 17 Friday ,9 July Essendon Bombers vs Adelaide Crows Marvel Stadium, VIC 7:00 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Round 18 Sunday ,18 July North Melbourne Kangaroos v Essendon Bombers Marvel Stadium, VIC 12:35 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Qualifiers Sunday, 29 August Western Bulldogs vs Essendon Bombers Marvel Stadium, VIC 2:00 PM Kayo Sports, Foxtel

Essendon Bombers squad

Player Number Name Position Career Games
29 Patrick Ambrose Defender 87
16 Joshua Begley Forward 16
2 Tom Bellchambers Ruck 129
24 Nick Bryan Ruck 0
28 Ned Cahill Midfield, Forward 0
37 Dylan Clarke Midfield 12
0 Henry Crauford Ruck 0
12 Tom Cutler Midfield 66
6 Joe Daniher Forward 104
38 Sam Draper Ruck 0
13 Orazio Fantasia Forward 75
10 Aaron Francis Defender 27
8 Martin Gleeson Defender 78
32 Noah Gown Forward 0
35 Matt Guelfi Midfield 32
33 Brayden Ham Forward, Midfield 5
21 Dyson Heppell Midfield 169
46 Mitchell Hibberd Midfield 4
0 Tom Hird
26 Cale Hooker Defender 193
18 Michael Hurley Defender 179
36 Lachlan Johnson Forward, Midfield 0
23 Harrison Jones Forward 0
4 Kyle Langford Forward, Midfield 65
15 Jayden Laverde Forward 40
41 Cian McBride Defender 0
43 Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti Forward 89
1 Andrew McGrath Midfield 64
45 Conor McKenna Defender 73
44 Shaun McKernan Forward 78
39 Ross McQuillan Defender, Forward 0
7 Zachary Merrett Midfield 126
22 Irving Mosquito Forward 0
19 Kobe Mutch Midfield 4
3 Darcy Parish Forward, Midfield 76
34 Andrew Phillips Ruck 41
27 Mason Redman Defender 25
14 Jordan Ridley Defender 9
42 Adam Saad Defender 92
9 Dylan Shiel Midfield 157
5 Devon Smith Forward, Midfield 138
40 Will Snelling Forward 5
17 James Stewart Forward 45
25 Jake Stringer Forward 128
20 Jacob Townsend Forward 48
11 David Zaharakis Midfield 207
30 Brandon Zerk-Thatcher Defender 1

Essendon Bombers history

The Bombers were formed in 1872 and were a founding member club of both the Victorian Football Association, in 1877, and the Victorian Football League in 1896.

The Bombers have won 16 premierships so far, their latest in 2000. They are tied with Carlton for the most premierships of any club in the competition.

They play their home games at either Marvel Stadium or the MCG.

Image source: Essendon Bombers team website

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