The Essendon Bombers have endured the toughest period in their history but with players returning from the long running supplements saga, supporters have a new era to look forward to.
Just what will 2017 bring for the Bombers? Here is our preview of the upcoming year.
2016 position: 18th
2017 Difficulty Rating: 2/10
Off season movements:
ARRIVALS: Andrew McGrath, Jordan Ridley, Josh Begley, Kobe Mutch, Dylan Clarke, James Stewart (GWS), Josh Green (Brisbane)
DEPARTURES: Adam Cooney, Tayte Pears, Mathew Stokes, Jason Ashby, Ryan Crowley, Courtenay Dempsey, Shaun Edwards, Nathan Grima, Sam Grimley, James Gwilt, Will Hams, Mark Jamar, Nick Kommer, Sam Michael, James Polkinghorne, Jonathan Simpkin, Michael Hibberd (Melbourne)
While the fallout from the drugs controversy may be felt for years particularly off the field, the Bombers can finally focus their energies to the on-field action and their recent acquisitions in the draft, including the No.1 pick, Andy McGrath, will be joined by Jobe Watson, Dyson Heppell, Michael Hurley, Cale Hooker, Travis Colyer, Heath Hocking, David Myers, Ben Howlett and Brent Stanton.
Those names should all but ensure that the red and black rise from the bottom of the ladder in 2016. But the question is, how far?
We believe that Essendon are a serious chance to push for the top 8, particularly if they can get their season off to a good start.
CrownBet currently have the Dons as slight outsiders to make the top 8 and have installed them at odds of $3, while they are $1.36 to be absent from the September action.
They regain key position players in Hurley and Hooker, while the newly appointed skipper, Dyson Heppell, is an absolute jet in the middle of the ground. With the 2016 best and fairest winner, Zach Merrett as well as David Zaharakis and the exciting Darcy Parish, Essendon have a genuinely quality midfield brigade. Let's not also forget former captain Jobe Watson, who was cruelly stripped of his 2012 Brownlow Medal in the off-season.
One of the benefits of finishing wooden spoon in 2016 is that the Bombers have received a kind draw and they play just one top eight side from 2016 on two occasions (Adelaide), while they face fellow battlers from 2016 in Brisbane, Fremantle and Carlton on two occasions each. Their fixture is also light on for travel, which should suit their younger players.
The season opens up with a Round 1 clash against old rivals, Hawthorn. If Essendon can harness their emotion's that have built up in recent years and use it to win big games such as this, and their ANZAC Day clash against Collingwood, they may just get a sniff and who knows what can happen.
Their experienced coach, John Worsfold, bought West Coast back from the brink on two occasions during his tenure as coach over in the west and looms as the perfect fit to revive the Bombers.
Key betting odds
Premiership: $34 CrownBet
Top 8: $3 CrownBet
To Miss Top 8: $1.36
Brownlow: Zach Merrett $34 William Hill
Brownlow: Dyson Heppell $51 William Hll
Rising Star: Aaron Francis $8 CrownBet
Rising Star: Andrew McGrath $10 CrownBet
The $3 on offer for Essendon to make the top 8 shapes as value, while the $51 for Dyson Heppell to claim the Brownlow is well worth a throw at the stumps.