The support that Essendon got from its Tasmanian fan base earlier this year was something that defender Jordan Ridley describes as special.
It is the type of support the 22-year-old believes the Bombers will need again if they are to break their 17-year finals drought in Sunday's elimination final outing at UTAS Stadium against the Western Bulldogs.
"It was an awesome experience,'' Essendon's reigning best and fairest said when reflecting on the atmosphere created by the very much pro-Bombers crowd of 14,834 in round 14 against Hawthorn.
"It was just really great to see such a big Bomber turnout there and it did really feel like a home game and the boys are really looking forward to getting back down there because of that.
"It is certainly big for us as we really do feed off that energy the crowd provides and when it is a big Bomber turnout there is nothing better then when the crowd is up and about."
While he admitted that level of support in "Hawthorn territory" did surprise him, he was more than ready for a second helping.
"Given that we haven't had any crowds for the last few weeks it will be awesome,'' he said.
"Over the last couple of years with COVID and the hubs, you sort of get used to playing without a crowd and that feels a bit normal now, so certainly games when you do have a crowd does spur you on, so I'm really looking forward to that on Sunday."
Ridley will be making his finals debut against the side that for so much of this season was considered a premiership favourite.
The Bombers won their last three games of the season, including a breakthrough win over Sunday's opponent, to qualify. The club is hunting its first finals success since its 2004 elimination final win over Melbourne.
"You play footy to play finals and this is something I have dreamed about and I am really looking forward to seeing what we can do,'' said Ridley, whose game is built around his intercept marking.
"I am really proud of the group with the growth and ability to improve we have shown over the past 12 months and since the start of the year we have just tried to be a team that is really hard working and we are just a group that is always looking to improve.
"That is something we will take forward for the rest of this year and for the years to come."
Ridley said the Bombers would enter Sunday with a "a sense of belief and confidence that we can achieve anything in this finals series".
Their appearance in the finals has exceeded expectations after a horror 2020, which saw the coaching handover from John Worsfold to Ben Rutten hit some significant speed bumps and key quartet Joe Daniher, Adam Saad, Orazio Fantasia and Connor McKenna leave the club.
Expectations dropped even further following a 2-6 start, with the Bombers' turnaround powered by the form of Jake Stringer, Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett in the midfield.
Ridley has been part of an inexperience defence which in recent weeks has included the likes of James Stewart, Jayden Laverde, Nick Hind, Mason Redman and Tom Cutler.
"We have just really nailed down our game plan and everyone is really committed to their role and stuck to the way we want to play and that is where our form has come from,'' Ridley said.
The dreaded finals hoodoo is not something the players are focusing on.
"It is a part of the club's history and a lot of what we have done this year has been about embracing the club's history,'' he said.
"I understand there will be a lot of noise about that , but it will be about tuning out that external noise.
"We have a really good opportunity to write our own chapter in the history book of the Essendon Football Club."
While Essendon has known nothing but success in Launceston with a 1-0 record, the Dogs have a poor 1-5 record in the city, including a 27-point loss to Hawthorn earlier this month.
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