Danny Younan led out his team for the first time on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Essendon FC

Essendon VFL co-captain Danny Younan led his young side out for the first time on Saturday afternoon, in what was a challenging but formative experience.

New Bombers VFL co-captain Danny Younan led his team out for the first time on Saturday afternoon.

It was a game that came with a variety of challenges for the 28-year-old VFL veteran, with plenty of firsts facing the Dons.

Speaking to The Inner Sanctum, Younan describes the experience of the day.

With the addition of interstate sides into the VFL competition this year, the Bombers first challenge came in a plane trip to Brisbane.

Younan holds the day as a positive, despite a poor result.

“I thought it was a great trip, albeit the result didn’t go our way,” he said.

“I think the experience of having everyone on the plane, especially first up in round one, the team bonding was the best thing that came out of it.

“You got to sit down on the plane with blokes you wouldn’t normally for two or three hours at a time and just have a good chat.

“I think we got some great benefits albeit we didn’t get the result coming our way on the weekend.”

While Younan has been a leader throughout his VFL career, acting as vice-captain at both Coburg and Essendon, facing a crushing loss at the helm was always going to be a challenge.

As a wiser head in the inexperienced group, Younan knew the younger players would be looking to him post-game.

“It’s like life, sometimes you have a bad day,” he said.

“You can let it hinder you, and carry it for 24 or 48 hours. The biggest thing about footy is that you’ve got to be able to, as soon as you come off, be disheartened, you don’t want to come off smiling after a loss like that.

“You’ve [then] got to be able to put processes in place. Get back up, get the body right for Monday and then you’re onto the following week.

“As long as you tick off all the boxes, get your training methods, do your edits, and be efficient with everything you’ve got to do, you just keep preparing.

“Going interstate, we [saw] it as an opportunity to grow. We were playing against a pretty formidable opposition like Brisbane, so we’re going to take a lot of learnings from that.

“We already had a review [on Wednesday], and we’ve seen that too.

“The boys will be able to develop pretty rapidly, and it’s our job as leaders to be able to get the best out of them.”

Like most teams in the VFL competition in 2021, the Bombers had an unusual preparation for the year ahead.

Pre-season began in January as compared to the usual November start.

Younan felt the struggle both in the group and within himself in the lead-up to the season’s start.

“I was coming from a long way back in terms of where my body was at in the COVID year,” he said.

“You learn a little bit more about your body, what it requires and what you can do to get it up pretty quick as well.

“I think a lot of people learnt a lot about what their bodies can achieve in such a short amount of time.

“Opportunities like [travelling to Brisbane] are vital.

“We’ve had a bit of a delayed start, we haven’t had a chance to go out and do a camp this year. Any opportunities where we can grasp that are worth their weight in gold.”


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As a VFL footballer, Younan and his teammates aren’t fully professional and as such, most still work outside of playing footy.

Younan runs an extermination business, often working long hours before going to training during the weekdays.

2020 for him was even more challenging due to not having any footy to play, which as he describes, is an outlet for him.

“I’m not going to lie, we did have our ups and downs [in 2020], more so downs,” Younan said.

“I lost a very close uncle of mine, plus the COVID [pandemic] as well.

“Trying to manage a business with all that uncertainty, and not having footy as an outlet, pretty much made everything a bit worse than what it was.

“I was thankful to have good people around me, and I was able to get going around September/October. Once I started to get going, I came out the other side like most people did.

“Running a business, or having any sort of workload, as soon as you walk through the doors at training and spend four or five hours there, you just focus on that point of time.

“Everything else around you, you just forget, and then you focus on getting your body right and training and spending time with your mates there.

“Not many people have that, so I’ve been pretty lucky and fortunate for many years that I can use footy as a hobby. I’ve been passionate about it for a long time.

“You sort of can’t explain it, but when you walk into training you forget about everything else.”

Surrounded by great people at Essendon, Younan is bolstered by the support he receives both on and off field.

One of those people is former Port Adelaide AFL-listed Joe Atley, who he shares captaincy duties with.

“Very lucky to share [the captaincy] with Joe,” Younan said.

“He’s a special character. From the day I first met him, he left an impact on me.

“Getting the co-captaincy in such a short time, it says a lot about his character. He comes from a great family, he’s very diligent about everything he does, from weights to training to the way he speaks, he’s very clear.

“The boys look up to him and obviously he’s very caring as well. He’s going to be a great leader in the future.

“He made his debut [for Essendon] on the weekend.

“The leadership group’s formed by Joshy Tynan, we’re very lucky to have him go around again, being the age he is. He’s just had a kid as well.

“Kyle Dunkley wraps it up as well, being a young leader, he’s come off an AFL list. He wants to grow and be a good VFL player and get himself back on an AFL list, like most people do.”

The next challenge for the Bombers comes against Collingwood at Victoria Park on Saturday.

Playing in an ANZAC Day Eve match gives a chance for the VFL sides to also experience the ceremony of ANZAC Day.

“It’s something that we’ve all looked forward to over the years,” Younan said.

“It sends shivers down your spine when you hear the trumpet, [and all] the build up. Vic Park is a pretty good deck as well, so all the Collingwood supporters get behind it.

“We’ve been pretty lucky over the years where the Bombers fans follow us [too], so they get a bit of enjoyment out of that.

“It is a pretty special day, so most of the players who get to play enjoy that.”

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