Heppell buoyed as Bombers build solid AFL form

The brightest time in Dyson Heppell's eventful AFL career is coming late.

The former Essendon captain says the Bombers' encouraging form and the people around him at the club mean he has never enjoyed the AFL this much.

Essendon replaced GWS in the top four with last Saturday's massive home win and they will start strong favourites on Sunday against last-placed North Melbourne.

Heppell, 32, has played 244 senior games since his 2011 debut.

"When you're sitting third, round nine, it's quite an exciting outlook," he said on Wednesday.

"But just in terms of the general vibe and the joy I'm getting from my footy, it's probably the most fun I've had in my career, which is pretty cool.

"You get a bit of perspective later on in your career, but obviously the quality and character of the players and coaches and staff that we have at the club, it leads to a really healthy environment.

Essendon coach Brad Scott.
Coach Brad Scott has been praised for generating a positive atmosphere at Essendon.

"Brad (coach Brad Scott) has really led the way in that."

As opposition fans are quick to note, Essendon have not won a final since 2004, and Heppell has played in five losing elimination finals.

He was also one of the 34 players banned in 2016 because of the club's drugs debacle.

Earlier this year, Scott said Essendon owed Heppell a debt of gratitude for how he had behaved through their darkest period.

Heppell said a big reason for Essendon's improved form so far this season was the work the players have done on their mindset.

"There's a really measured approach ... in terms of how we're going about it, making sure everyone does everything right," he said.

For all their improvement, Scott warned of a "punch in the face" from the opposition if Essendon do not maintain their effort, and Heppell said they must bring their best against North.

"North are a dangerous side, they have a hell of a lot of talent, so if you don't show up and bring your best you can get rolled, no worries," he said.

"Obviously the fans are up-and-about, we're sitting in a healthy position nearly midway through the year ... but we know how quickly things can turn."

As Essendon improve, their fans are gaining voice.

"We had a huge attendance on the weekend against GWS and it certainly helps, it gives you an extra lift late in the game. The support has been greatly appreciated," Heppell said.

While they have lost ruckman Sam Draper for several weeks with knee surgery, defenders Zach Reid and Jordan Ridley are closing on returns.

"That's the most exciting thing, we're heading towards a really healthy list," Heppell said.

"It does make for selection issues, but all the good teams have that."

Heppell was speaking at a Wednesday promotion with Melbourne Storm captain Harry Grant and former Wallaby Nick Cummins for the Tradie clothing brand.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store