Opinion 2021 Captaincy and Leadership Group

Choose your 2021 Leadership Group (max. 7):

  • Dyson Heppell

    Votes: 33 78.6%
  • Michael Hurley

    Votes: 22 52.4%
  • Cale Hooker

    Votes: 10 23.8%
  • David Zaharakis

    Votes: 2 4.8%
  • Dylan Shiel

    Votes: 27 64.3%
  • Devon Smith

    Votes: 8 19.0%
  • Zach Merrett

    Votes: 35 83.3%
  • Kyle Langford

    Votes: 15 35.7%
  • Sam Draper

    Votes: 3 7.1%
  • Andrew McGrath

    Votes: 40 95.2%
  • Jordan Ridley

    Votes: 15 35.7%
  • Darcy Parish

    Votes: 6 14.3%
  • Jake Stringer

    Votes: 3 7.1%
  • Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Will Snelling

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    42

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ghostdog

Norm Smith Medallist
Oct 18, 2008
8,779
4,528
gondawanaland
AFL Club
Essendon
Dyson Heppell has been our Captain since 2017, after joining EFC in 2011. He has been unlucky to hold the role during a period where the club has had to right itself after the drugs saga. Our form, of course, has not been due to Heppell in that role, however, it goes without saying that the effort and attitude during the time of his tenure as Captain has been some of the most half-hearted in recent memory. Even Knighter's battlers at least appeared serious about their game. We've seen Dyson joke with Dave Myers after a narrow loss, run past one of his own being set upon (v GWS iirc), and last week simply allow the playing group to laugh off the embarrassment rather than being set on refocusing. I really like Hepp, but given the state of the culture as it appears and the likelihood that we'll see more youth on the list over the next two years, I think leadership on the field and behind closed doors is an area where we need a circuit breaker.

Andrew McGrath will enter his fifth year with us next year. He Captained Brighton Grammar and Sandringham to Premierships, so there's a bit of experience there. He leads by example on the field and gives the club outstanding representation in the media when he is asked to speak. I recall seeing an interview with himself and Parish; when Parish tried to joke his way through a response and implicate McGrath, Andy played a straight bat that shutdown McGrath's flippant approach and answered the question in one. I don't think he's anywhere near his ceiling as a player yet either, so is the kind of player who should be able to find another level and lead the team out of the mire.

Dyson's body has started to reveal its mortality. I think he needs to focus on his body and his footy. McGrath's appointment to the role of Captain should be a circuitbreaker. I think it's time.
 

calyam

Norm Smith Medallist
May 9, 2011
5,715
6,501
Melbourne
AFL Club
Essendon
The club needs to make a number of changes and that includes on field leadership.

Something like McGrath (C), Shiel (VC) and maybe Ridley (VC) makes a lot of sense.

Heppell hasn't been able to set a standard nor provide the example that will drive us to our next successful era. Time to move on.
 

Schnitzengruben

Club Legend
Aug 4, 2019
1,730
2,251
AFL Club
Essendon
I agree RE; Heppell. His body is too unreliable and form is wavering at the best of times. I can probably count on one hand how many legitimately great games he's played the last couple years. I also agree with some of the things he's done that have been questionable like the having a laugh with Myers or the half time joke recently. Just don't see Selwood or Hodge doing things like that. So yeah, I think we should find a new captain. Mark the sign of a new leaf by the club.

I wouldn't be against giving it to McGrath although I think he's just a tad too young. He strikes me as a really good kid with a mature head on his shoulders, and no doubt he has some leadership qualities and will probably take that position in the future.

My ideal captain though is a bit older and one that has some serious campaigner about him. With all due respect to McGrath, I don't really want a nice young schoolboy at the helm. That is the problem in itself though, because he's probably the best option we have. The player I am suggesting isn't on our list.

I'd also throw Shiel into the mix. Maybe the added responsibility could take his game to the next level? Not sure, but worth a discussion.
 

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Lore

Moderator ❀
Dec 14, 2015
21,002
26,381
AFL Club
Essendon
What exactly does being captain or LG entail? Attending the toss, addressing the group once or twice, checking in with everyone now and then? I think there are meetings they have as well right, and some in-house disciplinary stuff they’d be part of as well?

I’m okay with it being the choice of the playing group. They need to decide their own values though, vote based on those values, and respect the outcome of the vote. You’d bloody well hope they’d come out with a group that demands the best not only of themselves but everyone around them as well.

If that’s Heppell then cool, and I would not be at all surprised if that’s the case. I wouldn’t be opposed to Doise taking the time to focus on his body though. No slight on him, but he probably has enough on his plate. With more surgery on his ankle now and it’s the middle of September, it seems unlikely that he would get back into main training before Christmas.
 

Yoda_

Brownlow Medallist
May 6, 2007
29,415
14,689
South East Suburbs
AFL Club
Essendon
Other Teams
Tottenham Hotspurs, Melbourne Vixen
I agree RE; Heppell. His body is too unreliable and form is wavering at the best of times. I can probably count on one hand how many legitimately great games he's played the last couple years. I also agree with some of the things he's done that have been questionable like the having a laugh with Myers or the half time joke recently. Just don't see Selwood or Hodge doing things like that. So yeah, I think we should find a new captain. Mark the sign of a new leaf by the club.

I wouldn't be against giving it to McGrath although I think he's just a tad too young. He strikes me as a really good kid with a mature head on his shoulders, and no doubt he has some leadership qualities and will probably take that position in the future.

My ideal captain though is a bit older and one that has some serious campaigner about him. With all due respect to McGrath, I don't really want a nice young schoolboy at the helm. That is the problem in itself though, because he's probably the best option we have. The player I am suggesting isn't on our list.

I'd also throw Shiel into the mix. Maybe the added responsibility could take his game to the next level? Not sure, but worth a discussion.
I don't think we are in a position to be picky, we seem to lack leaders across the list in general. I want our captain to set stanndards, to do what the team needs.
 

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owen87

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 23, 2016
7,706
9,996
AFL Club
Essendon
No to McGrath, way too soon. Melbourne ruined players that way.

Heppell probably needs to put his hand up and say “not this year” if he’s not 100% fit to play a full season, and have someone take the role for a few seasons until McGrath is 25 or so.

I used to think Merrett could be that guy; like Sam Mitchell was to Luke Hodge. But it seems that perhaps not.
 

ghostdog

Norm Smith Medallist
Oct 18, 2008
8,779
4,528
gondawanaland
AFL Club
Essendon
I agree RE; Heppell. His body is too unreliable and form is wavering at the best of times. I can probably count on one hand how many legitimately great games he's played the last couple years. I also agree with some of the things he's done that have been questionable like the having a laugh with Myers or the half time joke recently. Just don't see Selwood or Hodge doing things like that. So yeah, I think we should find a new captain. Mark the sign of a new leaf by the club.

I wouldn't be against giving it to McGrath although I think he's just a tad too young. He strikes me as a really good kid with a mature head on his shoulders, and no doubt he has some leadership qualities and will probably take that position in the future.

My ideal captain though is a bit older and one that has some serious campaigner about him. With all due respect to McGrath, I don't really want a nice young schoolboy at the helm. That is the problem in itself though, because he's probably the best option we have. The player I am suggesting isn't on our list.

I'd also throw Shiel into the mix. Maybe the added responsibility could take his game to the next level? Not sure, but worth a discussion.
If it were McGrath he'd be getting the Captaincy only a year earlier than Heppell did. McGrath does have a mature head on his shoulders; I'd still back him to warm to the role fairly quickly. Maybe Dyson could mentor him for a year or so first. Someone has to drive the club's standards on field and at training. I thought about Dev but he has his own issues getting his body right as well. I hadn't thought about Saad - there's a possibility. By 2022 we're going to be a young team. If McGrath's in his sixth year by then and has a year of experience I think we'll be all the better for it. I don't necessarily buy into age as a factor. Maturity sometimes trumps age, and I reckon in McGrath's case it does.
 

Nifft

Club Legend
Nov 2, 2010
2,016
2,423
Melbourne
AFL Club
Essendon
What exactly does being captain or LG entail? Attending the toss, addressing the group once or twice, checking in with everyone now and then? I think there are meetings they have as well right, and some in-house disciplinary stuff they’d be part of as well?

I’m okay with it being the choice of the playing group. They need to decide their own values though, vote based on those values, and respect the outcome of the vote. You’d bloody well hope they’d come out with a group that demands the best not only of themselves but everyone around them as well.

If that’s Heppell then cool, and I would not be at all surprised if that’s the case. I wouldn’t be opposed to Doise taking the time to focus on his body though. No slight on him, but he probably has enough on his plate. With more surgery on his ankle now and it’s the middle of September, it seems unlikely that he would get back into main training before Christmas.
I'm not sure the playing group should be setting their own standards. They're very gifted athletes, but they're young guys and should be given some direction, in my opinion.
 

CBombers17

Premium Platinum
Jul 7, 2014
3,720
4,060
AFL Club
Essendon
I'm on the record already about leadership groups being a waste of time.

In terms of the current Captaincy i think the main concern here is Heppell being best 22. Personally i think he will be but they don't set up for a plodding ball winner and we don't need a Captain in reserves misread in 2021.

Assuming he's best 22 then it might be worth Rutten telling Heppell how he wants it done and if there's agreement then give him another year. He definitely plays like a leader even if the optics are sometimes dubious.

McGrath is already taking a leadership role by following instructions and playing how we want. No point loading him up with other rubbish now when he still has a lot of work to do on his own game. If they really want a fresh start from Heppell then maybe go to Shiel for a year or two or Saad assuming he stays.

If McGrath is the man moving forward then perhaps make him Vice Captain. If that's not decided yet then do something different and don't have a VC (agreeing with Eth here).
 

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