Friday, February 3, 2017

First Premiers

In doing research a while back I saw that the Essendon Bombers won the first premiership in the league that is now called the AFL, back in 1897. I love this sort of thing, so I thought I'd visit their site to see what sort of history page they had.

First, a brief overview. The team has played over 2400 games total, won 1350 of them, with a winning percentage of over 56%. All these statistics are third behind Collingwood and Carlton in the history of the AFL/VFL.

Anyhow I was looking for more of a year-to-year sort of thing on the Bomber website, similar to what I saw from some of the other clubs. What I did find was a page where each player is listed alphabetically. Not really what I was looking for, but it sure looks like every man who ever played for the Bombers has his own separate listing, which includes games played and a short bio. Very nice.

The Dons even have their own walk-in museum at their training facility in Essendon, which isn't too far from the Melbourne Airport.

The thing that wowed me was this museum is available via virtual tour, here. This is amazing stuff. It's where I learned that the Essendon Football Club was formed in 1872. They saw some success in winning VFA premierships in 1892-93-94 before leaving and joining the Victorian Football League for the 1897 season. There was no Grand Final that year-- Essendon won the premiership by virtue of beating Geelong, Collingwood, and Melbourne in round-robin play to finish 3-0.

screenshot of the Essendon Virtual Museum. A fantastic presentation
of their long and storied history. Great stuff.
The museum has displays of Bomber greats, a celebration of the back-to-back premiership sides of 1984 and 1985, and so much more. There is also homage paid to James Hird, who was a great player and coach for the team. His grandfather and father also have their place in team history.

However, James played a role in a doping scandal that has rocked the team for the last several years, costing him his place in the game. This scandal is part of the reason the 2016 Bombers took home their first wooden spoon (for finishing last on the ladder) since 1933.

However Hird's place in Dons history cannot be denied.

So much to see and absorb, so little time. This virtual museum demonstrates how history should be told, remembered, and celebrated. Well done, Essendon.

The Bombers open season 2017 on March 25 at the MCG against Hawthorn.

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