Dyson Heppell during the round 13 match between Essendon and Carlton at the MCG, June 9, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

ESSENDON is perfectly placed to end its hoodoo against Geelong in what would be a fitting celebration of club great Dyson Heppell's 250th game.

Since re-emerging as a consistent force in 2004, the Cats have owned the Bombers more than any other team.

Geelong has beaten Essendon 21 of the last 25 times they have played, winning four premierships in that period, while the Bombers have gone 20 years without winning a final.

However, Saturday night's MCG clash shapes as a golden opportunity for third-placed Essendon (9-1-4) to make a statement to consolidate its position in the top four.

Geelong will be without veteran forward Tom Hawkins, who has kicked 17 goals in his last three appearances against the Bombers.


The Cats will host their second home game of the season at the MCG coming off six losses from their last seven matches.

Heppell, who grew up in a family full of Geelong supporters but switched to barracking for Essendon at an early age, has a 3-9 record against the Cats.

"I think we're primed for it (this match)," Heppell said on Friday.

"Our list is in a really healthy spot. Got a great team on the park on Saturday night and I think we'll be primed for the occasion."

Heppell has been one of the AFL's most loyal servants.


The left-footer from Gippsland knocked back big offers to move elsewhere, especially when Essendon was in turmoil during the supplements saga era, to remain one of the most popular players to pull on a Bombers jumper.

Heppell is just the 15th Essendon player to reach 250 games.

"It's a tremendous honour," the 32-year-old said.

"You look across the board at some of the names that have done it and it's just such a proud history of the club, 150 years in the game ... it's pretty cool."

Heppell was presented with his jumper at training on Friday by Harrison Pennicott, a young boy who has struggled with a rare skin and auto-immune disease.

Dyson Heppell and Harrison Pennicott speak to the media during an Essendon training session on June 28, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

He's (Harrison) done more for me outside of footy than what I've done for him. He's a pretty special little man," Heppell said.

Essendon has been forced into a change from its selected line-up, ruling defender Jake Kelly out with illness and replacing him with Jye Menzie.

Veteran ruck Todd Goldstein returns at the expense of exciting youngster Nate Caddy after a week's rest to partner Sam Draper.