Collingwood Mapgies v Essendon Bombers scores, results, fixtures, teams, tips, games, how to watch

Former No.1 draft pick turned Essendon vice captain Andrew McGrath had to grow up quickly after entering the AFL system as a wide-eyed 18-year-old.

Not only did he face the pressure of being the top selection in 2016, but he was taken by one of the league’s biggest clubs, who he had to help steer through challenging times.

Essendon vice captain Andrew McGrath will play his 150th game on Friday night.

Essendon vice captain Andrew McGrath will play his 150th game on Friday night.Credit: AFL Photos

The Canadian-born defender came into the club during one of its lowest ebbs, as several from the list returned from their 12-month drugs ban. He then developed his leadership to take on the vice-captaincy in 2023 and had to face head-on the constant scrutiny from success-starved Bomber fans and the media.

Now, McGrath and the rest of the playing group and staff are “acutely aware” of being in a similar position to where they were this time last year, when they took a nosedive down the ladder and missed finals.

In 2023 – Brad Scott’s first year as coach and Zach Merrett’s first as captain – Essendon were finals-bound, sitting fifth on the ladder after round 17. But then they ultimately tumbled to 11th, winning only two more games against the lowly West Coast and North Melbourne, and suffering a 126-point thrashing from GWS and a 70-point loss to Collingwood.

Now, they sit fourth on the ladder – after rising to second spot in round 10 and remaining in the top four since – but have suffered defeats in three of their past four matches, losing to Geelong (45 points), Carlton (26) and Gold Coast (11).

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