Brendon Goddard speaks about his last week at Essendon, retirement, win over Port Adelaide
BRENDON GODDARD, Herald Sun
I DON’T remember driving home.
It was last Monday afternoon, and only an hour or so after John Worsfold had told me I was done at Essendon.
It was a tough journey in the car by myself, lost in my own thoughts about what had just happened, and what was going to come next.
You know that feeling when you get lost in the your thoughts in the car. When you finally pull into your driveway, you instantly think: ‘S—. how I did get here? Was I speeding? How I did I actually get there?’
I had tried to mentally prepare myself for this moment, but until you actually hear the words, you don’t know how to react. Or what to think, or feel?
Earlier in the day Woosha had told me to come up to his office for a chat when I was finished. Walking up there, I was kind of hoping it was something else, though through the processes of elimination, there wasn’t much else we needed to talk about.
I knew it was going to be a decision one way or the other.
I won’t go into detail about what he said to me, but he talked about how the club had had a list management meeting that morning and that they believed my time was up at Essendon.
The meeting only lasted a few minutes. I’m not one who is going to sit there and say something I don’t mean. There was nothing to gain from me disagreeing, or telling him I thought they had made the wrong decision, which I still do.
So I just grabbed my stuff and walked out the door, and went home to be with my wife, Rosie, and my kids, Billie and Mackenzie.
I didn’t sleep much that night.
I’d made no secret of the fact that I wanted to play on with Essendon, but now that had been taken away from me, I had to start making plans.
The next day I met with my management company, TLA, with Adam Ramanauskas, and we spoke with Craig Kelly, who was on business in the US. We talked about the future, and how we wanted my last week at Essendon to work.
That’s why I wasn’t at the main training session last Tuesday.
My wife, to some degree, was worried I was going to be bitter and angry. But I know the industry too well. I’ve accepted the decision, even if I still don’t agree with it.
Clubs need to make tough decisions, that’s the brutality of the AFL. The game doesn’t stand still for anyone. It is ‘Hi, thanks, goodbye and next man up’.
In a way, I wish my body was failing me, and I was struggling to get up for games, but the reality is, I’m still feeling good.
That’s why I have never been happy to use the word retirement.
I still think I have plenty to offer, and I would never say never. But the more I think about it, maybe Friday night’s game against Port Adelaide - my 334th AFL game - is the right time to go out.
It was great to have my family - Rosie, the kids, my mum Patti and my sisters Laura and Claire - and some of my friends there, including Nick Riewoldt and Sam Fisher.
I don’t show my appreciation enough to Rosie. I would love to say I never brought footy home with me, but before the kids came along, there’s no doubt I did.
She’s ridden the rollercoaster with me and I can’t thank her enough.
I know I haven’t always been the most popular person for some footy fans. They have judged me only on what they see on the weekends.
The other side of that is that it p----- me off a little because they think I am like that all the time.
It does annoy me to an extent how some think they have got the right to judge me. I used to be judgmental when I was a teenager, but footy helped me realise you don’t judge a book by its cover.
I can’t do anything about what people say or think about me. All I can say is that I quickly learnt I was never going to live my life trying to please everyone.
If people want to crucify me for the passion I show, that’s fine. But I would like them to know that it comes from a genuine care for my teammates and a desire to win.
I know I have occasionally stepped over the line, but my teammates know what I am like from Monday to Friday, and that’s what matters.
As emotional a night as it was, there was a funny moment during the game, when I sold some “candy” to Sam Powell-Pepper. I hadn’t done that in 10 years, so he had every right to assume I would handball to Saady running past.
We had a laugh and he said: ‘Yeah, you got me, you ■■■■■■■’.
My immediate plan is to spend more time with my family. I’ve had a joke with Rosie that she can go out to work, and I will be the stay-at-home dad.
We’ve got weddings in Bali and Portugal later in the year, so we will have a bit of a holiday too.
Some might be scared about the unknown ahead. I’m excited by whatever that might be.