Essendon legend Michael Long will not be able to attend the Dreamtime at the ‘G clash this week or participate in the Long Walk to the ground as he continues to recover from ill health.
The Bombers and Tigers will do battle in the 12th edition of the annual game which celebrates Indigenous culture.
The MCG is expecting a crowd of 86,000 on Saturday night, but unfortunately Long will not be one of them.
In his absence, the Long Walk Original Walkers, Essendon past players including Gavin Wanganeen, Derek Kickett and Che Cockatoo-Collins, Senator Pat Dodson, Senator Nigel Scullion, Kevin Sheedy, Nova Peris, Lindsay Tanner, Xavier Campbell, Richard Goyder and Gill McLachlan will lead the Long Walk from Federation Square to the MCG.
The champion player and Indigenous leader said he was overwhelmed by the show of solidarity.
“The amount of Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders, football fans and members of the community who have committed to walking together on Saturday night will be really powerful, and demonstrates we are heading in the right direction as a nation,” Long said.
“I am disappointed I can’t be there in person, but the Long Walk is not about me, it’s about continuing the conversation about how we can improve the everyday lives, education and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
“This is a great week where Indigenous culture and community is front and centre, we’ll have more than 20,000 walkers make their way from Federation Square to the Dreamtime at the ‘G, and it will all be capped off with what should be a great game of footy.”