Game on ... Organisers confident Dons will play

ORGANISERS are confident Essendon’s preseason match against Richmond in Wangaratta will go ahead as planned.

AFL Victoria Country area manager John O’Donohue, a key figure in bringing the March 2 game to Norm Minns Oval, said the Bombers’ drug investigation would not influence the fixture.

The match, which will be capped at 11,000, is expected to be a sell-out, with 4332 tickets sold already.

“There are no fears of anything being cancelled,” O’Donohue said yesterday.

“They are investing fairly heavily in their personnel who are coming up which is great. 

“At this stage they are ­bringing everybody.” 

The travelling party to the North East is set to include last year’s Brownlow medallist Jobe Watson.

Watson’s father, Bombers legend Tim, said on Melbourne radio yesterday he would be “devastated” if his son’s Brownlow was taken off him.

The Fox Sports-televised ­Essendon-Richmond twilight match follows the Bombers’ round 1 NAB Cup clashes against the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood at Etihad ­Stadium tomorrow week.

The Bombers will also hold their community camp in the North East as they try to rebuild their public image following last year’s fiasco when they forfeited their clash against St Kilda after their flight was cancelled because of bad weather.

Essendon and Richmond will both travel by bus for this game.

O’Donohue said he expected the Bombers to receive a warm welcome in Wangaratta.

“They’ll get a great reception,” he said.

“There will be a few that enjoy having a laugh at their expense but I think we are pretty happy having such a big club come here.

“The last discussions we had with them, is they have a travelling party of about 60.”