A nice piece on Jobe
(which has made me all the more madder/sadder, as where was the support for Jobe when it was required, it’s certainly not required now)
IN 2002, Jobe Watson stood in the top-deck Legends Bar at Windy Hill on the day he was taken father-son by Essendon, and his 17-year-old smile was as big as the grandstand.
Upon announcing his retirement, 32-year-old Watson sat at the new headquarters at Tullamarine and the smile was still evident — but different.
The youthful exuberance and the excitement of the unknown had been worn away by a career poisoned by the hands of others.
On Wednesday he laughed and sort of cried and cracked jokes, but there was a touch of sadness about it still.
In truth, Watson never got what he deserved from football.
We’re not talking about premierships, for they are earned and not given. We’re talking about getting a fair crack at his career and not having a drugs scandal engulf him for three years, suspend him for one year and curtail him in what we now know is his final year.
That’s five years which can never be corrected.
Those still accusing him of being a willing drug cheat best not read on, but Jobe Watson is not the kind of character to lie, or to deceive or even run the risk of taking a banned drug.
He spoke with class, integrity, care and honour, and it’s difficult to believe he would be any different in any other sphere of his life.
And it could’ve been so much different.
He could’ve whacked the lot of them, the club and people there for taking risks, and the club and the people there for folding under fierce AFL threat — and did it with a viciousness many people would say was deserved.
But that ain’t Jobe.
History can torment the future if you let it, or you don’t at least compartmentalise it, and the sense of relief on Wednesday came when Watson said: “You move on, life is too short.’’
If anything, it’s what he didn’t say which was perhaps important. He spoke of Kevin Sheedy, how scared he was of Bomber Thompson and, of course, the fitness guys who helped drive him from being a plumpish kid to professional athlete. But there was no mention of James Hird.
Asked if he was content or still carried demons from the drugs scandal and beyond and the return, Watson likened it to like breaking up with a cheating girlfriend and then getting back together.
“You might get back together, you probably don’t love her the same way,’’ he said. “That’s a little bit how I feel about it. I love the game but it doesn’t feel the same to me as what it did.”
Perhaps that’s how he feels about Hird. There was a footy love between the coach and the captain, but it will never be what it was.
Watson became more than a son of a legend at Essendon.
On that joyful day back in 2002, he was asked about wearing the famous No. 32, but he baulked at the suggestion.
He wanted to, and did, forge his own career.
In a true football sense, he will be remembered as an outstanding footballer, but not an all-time great footballer and perhaps his impact at the club may be recorded heavily in how Watson was an amazing presence and leader throughout the drugs scandal rather than what a player he was.
That warmth and integrity wasn’t lost on club officials who spoke of Watson.
He was and will remain, though, Essendon royalty.
He barracked for, played for and captained the cub, won three best and fairests, was a two-time All Australian and in 2012 won the AFLPA’s best captain award.
He was a warrior-type, who appeared more often than not battle-weary, and at his best he was an inspiring player.
Bombers fans idolised him because there was a trust and warmth towards him.
It’s strange to think he thought he was lost to Essendon if Sheedy stayed as coach, such was the disenchantment from both parties.
Instead, Watson knuckled down and people at Windy Hill back in 2007 still remember the period when Watson shaved his head and ran himself into the turf to achieve peak fitness.
Mostly always, Watson was about the team and his teammates.
Asked about the hurt of giving up his Brownlow Medal, Watson turned to his family and his teammates.
“The medal didn’t really matter to me. It wasn’t important. It was the people surrounding me, what they thought about it. The people whose opinion I value and know me the best, they haven’t changed because I had to hand back a Brownlow Medal.’’
The greatest hurt, he said, came on the day of the CAS decision.
“The most difficult time was certainly after the WADA finding, having to be with teammates and go through that,’’ he said.
He didn’t expand, but that day is remembered for extreme emotion and disappointment.
It didn’t get to that point on Wednesday at Essendon, nor did it get to what should’ve been said by club officials.
And that was sorry, Jobe.