(Will post it.)
James Hird, Herald Sun
James Hird recalls first time he met Jobe Watson and the journey to Essendon great
FIRST day of pre-season, late 2002. I’m driving to Bundoora with that strange mix of excitement and dread that only a day like this can inspire.
There’s a detour, to Prahran, to collect pick 40 from that year’s draft — a kid called Watson.
I’d first spent time with Jobe in 1993, kicking the ball around in the change rooms when he was about eight, his dad Tim just out of retirement for one last fling with the Bombers.
It’s 40 minutes or so out to La Trobe University and even though we’re not strangers, there’s a lot of silence in the car. I suspect the passenger, still just 17, is feeling a whole lot more trepidation than the driver.
Sure enough Jobe struggles to keep up. It’s an even quieter trip home — Jobe falls asleep, spent.
A week later we make a drive out to Melton for more summer fun. Eight laps is the call, and as the minutes mount Jobe falls further back — one lap, two laps …
More Zs coming home.
Some kids prepare to get drafted, but that just wasn’t Jobe. While his fitness was lacking, the passion and desire to succeed was there is spades.
Jobe had his knockers in the early years at Essendon; there were some who didn’t think he was gong to make it.
But he worked and worked and he did make it. He lost weight and started eating lettuce leaves and weighing his food. He turned talent and potential into top-rate football.
By 2006 he was a regular. In 2007 rotations had just come in and we were changing a lot in the midfield — I saw he was going to be more than a good player.
By 2012 he was an absolute game-changer for us. Any time I needed to really change something up, I’d put Jobe forward and he would make something happen.
He was a very coachable player, Jobe.
There was one exception. Jobe had a quirk of liking to start the game with a dinky little kick or handball. I’d tell him before the game, kick the thing as far as you can when you first get it, but without fail he’d do the opposite. That was just his way.
Through the darkest days of the ASADA period he was an especially magnificent leader. Being captain, he carried an awesome load. He was highly questioning of what was going on but he just kept fronting up.
The club may have fallen apart if it hadn’t been for Jobe’s resilience and somehow in the maelstrom of 2013 the club had its best home-and-away season since 2001 (14 wins). Jobe led the way.
Jobe has seen the highs and lows of football like no one else and I think that has provided him with great perspective — I wish him the very best in whatever path he now follows.