A very heartfelt farewell from BJ.
Brendon Goddard pays tribute to retiring Essendon champ Jobe Watson as Bombers bow out
Brendon Goddard, Herald Sun
September 9, 2017 7:24pm
Jobe Watson will wake on Sunday having finished his football career.
It’s sad because when you lose a quality individual, an Essendon person and a good mate from your footy club it is always tough.
But the overwhelming feeling is that I’m really happy for Jobe. He gets to leave the game on his terms.
He returned to Essendon with a clean slate and although I’m pretty sure he didn’t envisage this would be his last year, one of his goals was to leave the club in a better place than when he returned. He’s done that.
Jobe and I have known each other since we were teenagers. He went to Xavier and I was a boarder at Caulfield Grammar, we played against each other and we also played together in representative teams.
I actually used to see him on weekends, too, because I used to stay at a close friend’s house on weekends — when I checked out of the boarding house — and they happened to live two doors down from the Watson’s family home in Sandringham.
I actually became good friends with Jobe’s younger sister Billie, who used to spend a lot of time with my friends’ youngest daughter and their son.
But back to footy. Although Jobe wasn’t blessed with natural athleticism as a junior, he was so clean with the ball, smart and was an accumulator of the football.
Back then, you could see the makings of a pretty good player.
I had a first hand look at how good of a player he had become when the Saints played the Bombers in Round 3, 2011.
Once were rivals … Brendon Goddard tried to negate Jobe Watson when St Kilda played Essendon early in 2011.
We had spent some time preparing our plans to nullify his influence around stoppages and on the game.
All of the Saints midfielders spent time on him that day, myself included, with no luck.
He was the difference in the end with the Bombers winning by 52 points.
We became teammates at Essendon at the end of 2012.
I made the final decision to leave St Kilda for Essendon about a week after Jobe won the Brownlow, so just before that October 1 free agency period, and I saw Jobe out at a popular night spot, Seven nightclub — coincidentally the same place we used to hang out with all the private school boys and girls when we were 18 and 19.
I went up to him and said G’day and he asked: “What’s your decision, are you in?”
I said: “I’m in, I’m coming to Essendon.”
So we had a little man love moment and got on with the rest of the night — he was there still celebrating his Brownlow win with some of his teammates, soon to be my teammates.
At that time I knew Jobe as an outstanding player, but I didn’t know many details or his traits as a captain.
Soon after arriving I could see why he was held in such high regard, but also still developing and improving in some areas as captain.
As good as a leader he was, he could be a little bit aloof at times, he liked to escape the football club bubble as much as he could.
As time went on, I think he realised how much he was influencing everyone around him and that encouraged him to continually help others improve.
Another thing is that like all great leaders and great players I’ve seen or played with, Jobe had the ability to identify situations whether good or bad — in games or at training — and then have the knowledge and know-how to do something about it, often doing something special.
It was a shattering day just before his 200th game in 2015 when I saw him totally defeated for the first time. I think the weight of the ongoing problems at Essendon had finally caught up with him. In a game in which we were meant to be celebrating the achievements of a truly great Essendon person, it was any thing but a celebration.
Being such an influential leader, we feed off every word Jobe spoke.
He would give a pre-game speech just prior to running out for the last time before the first bounce.
Through those speeches you could get a real sense of how Jobe was feeling on that particular day, and 99 per cent of the time he was up and about.
On this particular day, against St Kilda, I’ve never seen or heard a man more mentally defeated and exhausted. He wanted to be anywhere else but at that footy ground that day.
It was soul destroying, to see our leader, captain and friend so broken and shattered.
I’m on record saying it’s the worst game I’ve ever played. We lost by 100 points and we gave up, I gave up. We were all defeated before a ball had been bounced.
To be able to come back from that position and steer the club through the mud (Jobe’s words) is a true reflection of Jobe’s integrity and substance as a man.
Xavier Campbell said that without Jobe the club would have been rudderless. He was right. Jobe was our pillar of strength. Doing all this while being the face of the entire Essendon saga.
I spoke to him throughout the whole season last year while he was making the most of his year off.
He always offered his help if I needed it. I knew he was always there for me and the team.
He followed us very closely, which I felt was a great sign and a reflection of how important the team and club was to him, even with all the speculation about his future and if he would return or not.
I didn’t ask him directly if he was coming back this year. I felt if he wanted to tell me he would. But make no mistake, we were all holding our breath.
It was important for the players as much as the footy club that he came back. We were all relieved when he informed us he would return for the 2017 season.
Throughout this year, Jobe has never been more invested in the footy club and the team. I’ve never seen him do more work with the younger guys, helping them fast track their games and their careers.
Even with all the question marks over his head on whether he was going to play on or retire and his struggles with injuries and form, he has driven our game plan, our standards, our culture.
I think he’s been able to do that without having the responsibility of being captain.
I’m not entirely sure what is next for Jobe.
He is a deep thinker, a lateral thinker and I know he is excited about experiencing life without football.
He is looking forward to having a break and enjoying all the things that we often sacrifice being professional athletes.
I think he’ll be involved in footy in some sense, whether that be in the media or something, but I don’t see him coaching. And I think his days of being a barista are over.
Maybe he’ll be an explorer, traveller, a blogger. Lets face it, you were never sure where he would pop up next, and I expect nothing will change in the next chapter of his life.
Who knew the guy I met as a teenager, who blossomed into a tremendous player, a great person and leader of men — the man we call Whispy, The Wizard and JJ — would be a lifelong friend.
We will all miss ya, mate.