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Reward at last for Dons' skipper

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Martin Blake

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Jobe Watson wins Brownlow Medal

Essendon captain Jobe Watson held an unassailable lead by round 21 of the count and dedicated much of his acceptance speech to his family.

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Brownlow Medal leaderboard

JOBE Watson did not bother with the customary rush of false modesty. Did he have his speech written, he was asked as he crossed the blue carpet with partner Ella Keddie at the start of the evening. "I'm probably one of 10 or or 15 guys who have a chance to win it," he said.

Runaway winner .... Jobe Watson started strongly to poll 30 votes and win the Brownlow.

Runaway winner .... Jobe Watson started strongly to poll 30 votes and win the Brownlow. Photo: Getty Images

But Watson had this coming. Not for trifling reasons was he the favourite for the Brownlow Medal. It has been his third consecutive outstanding year and, unlike last year, when he led early only to be cut down by a cluster of hamstring injuries, he had stayed sound. Fifteen votes in 2011 and 16 in 2010. We knew that the umpires liked him. They have got it right, again, as they usually do.

At 27, Watson has achieved something not even his illustrious father, Tim, could manage, winning the game's most prestigious and famous individual honour.

Tim Watson, a three-time premiership player, captain and four-time club champion at Essendon, was one of the favourites in 1989, and recalled this week how nerve-racking it had been to go to the count and how deflating it was to come away empty handed. But he never won the Brownlow and never polled more than 17 votes in a season, notwithstanding legend status. Now his profoundly impressive son is powering into the same heady territory with his unathletic gait and his sure hands and his creative vision with the football in his hands.

Brownlow Bomber: Jobe Watson's past three seasons for Essendon have been outstanding.

Brownlow Bomber: Jobe Watson's past three seasons for Essendon have been outstanding. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

An emotional Tim Watson sat with his wife, Susie, at the count as his son told of the advice he had imparted after his difficult third season. "He said 'you don't have to do this if you don't want to. At the moment, you're not doing much'."

Jobe Watson was a magnificent leader for the Bombers this year, particularly in the early season thrust in which they won eight of the first nine games. Watson is not quick, but he is big and clever with his hands, incredibly so. People forget how big he is (190cm, 94kg), and how powerful he is over the football, immovable. Professional to a tee, he corrected his most obvious fault, a shoddy kick, and augmented a penchant for goalkicking to his arsenal.

It seems so far into the distant past that he was out of favour in Kevin Sheedy's time at Windy Hill.

Watson played just 13 senior games in his first three seasons in 2003-2005 after Essendon took him under the father-son rule. In Sheedy’s final game with the club at the end of 2007, he dropped Watson. As much as this hurt him, it turned out to be a watershed. Sheedy was probably right and Watson went away to sort himself out, dedicating himself to a new training regime, losing weight and giving himself the opportunity to become a midfielder.

Watson said he had been "naive" to the professional standards when Sheedy spoke to him. "By him talking to me in that way, it drove me to become a better player."

He had played his early footy as a forward. Now he developed the ability to run hard and long, if not quickly. He learned to capitalise on his beautiful, soft hands. He became captain of a club striving to create some history to match that of his father’s era, and struggling.

And he blew them away, polling votes in 12 of Essendon's first 13 games, roaring to 26 votes and an eight-vote lead through round 14. The Anzac Day game was the only match in which he did not poll, an astonishing run of performances. But this was where Essendon hit its quicksand. In the Palladium, Channel Seven’s Cameron Ling quizzed him for an update on his feelings. "A bit more nervous than I was when I walked in," he confessed.

Here was Watson at his best; no pretence that he was too cool to care about the Brownlow. But Gary Ablett and Scott Thompson of Adelaide were looming, and Essendon's fade-out was coming. Watson had four vote-less games and his chasers crept closer. Then in Essendon's round-19 loss to Adelaide, he was voted best-afield. At 29, he had a six-vote lead over Ablett. After round 20, he led by seven. "I'm on the cliff and holding on," he said.

When the votes came for round 21 and Ablett did not poll, Watson could not be headed at 30 votes.
All the favourites polled heavily, with Ablett and Josh Kennedy jumping out to nine votes through three rounds. As ever it was the midfielders' medal, with few favours given to defenders or forwards. The umpires plainly thought more of Sam Mitchell's season than the all-Australian selectors; the Hawk finished equal-second on 26 votes with Trent Cotchin of Richmond.

There were quirks, and big applause when Ben Hudson (Brisbane) and Jason Blake (St Kilda) had the first votes of their long careers.

46 comments

  • You're a Champion Jobe, a true leader, courageous & fearless - all of your own doing, even if you are you fathers son. Congratulations mate, enjoy every second - but we know what you want next year...

    Commenter
    Happy Man
    Location
    Central Goldields
    Date and time
    September 25, 2012, 3:25AM
    • got a bit of the Shane Woewoedin's about it this one

      Commenter
      Gaz
      Location
      Yarrawonga
      Date and time
      September 25, 2012, 8:13AM
    • @Gaz, stupid comment mate. Watson carries Essendon, and had a great season. I am sick of seeing Ablett get votes when he doesn't deserve them. 3 v the Pies when they lost by 100 pts. 53 possies, but 40 of them in the defensive half doesn't make for a best on ground effort. Ablett's good, but the umps need to realise he didn't influence the game at all.

      Really, the umps don't have enough of a clue about the game. Milne, as much as I despise the guy, kicked 4 or 5 goals half a dozen times this year. He got 3 votes. As a small forward, that many goals is a BOG effort. McPharlin and Ted Richards didn't get any votes I am pretty sure, despite winning their position pretty much ever week. The umps need to sit down at the end of the game with the team lists, and the goalkickers. Not the possession winners because they should be able to pick up on that, and it is proven that they do. They are missing the forwards and backmen who deserve votes. It's ridiculous.

      Well done to Swan, Beams and Pendles for great season. Next year Pies.

      Commenter
      azz
      Date and time
      September 25, 2012, 8:41AM
    • Spot on @gaz, no one at essendon was going to take votes off him, thats why they fell in a heap..

      @Azz - I agree how you get best on ground and lose by 100 pts is baffling

      Commenter
      bankster
      Date and time
      September 25, 2012, 9:19AM
    • Gaz, Woewoedin was carried, Jobe carries his team,
      what a stupid and ill informed comment

      Commenter
      Adams
      Date and time
      September 25, 2012, 9:26AM
    • Azz

      '53 possies, but 40 of them in the defensive half doesn't make for a best on ground effort. Ablett's good, but the umps need to realise he didn't influence the game at all.'

      But if Dayne 'kick it to the opposition' Swan get 40 possessions, then an outcry ensues when he doesn't get the three votes.

      Abblett

      - is the only player the opposition have to tag and they can't
      - gets a stack of contested possessions
      - gets a stack of possessions in the centre
      - has to run to space to get those 'uncontested' possessions (often double teamed)
      - gets possies in the backline cos that's where the ball is due to most of his team being sub-par

      And I barrack for the tiges but recognise the best player (and it certainly aint clanger swan)

      Commenter
      kepler-22b
      Date and time
      September 25, 2012, 9:50AM
    • got a bit of the Shane Woewoedin's about it this one

      Gaz

      I'll see your Woewoedin with an Akermanis and raise you a Hardie

      Commenter
      kepler-22b
      Date and time
      September 25, 2012, 9:53AM
    • Another winner who provides further evidence that that umpires should never be allowed do the votes on the Brownlow. He is not as bad a winner as Shane wowoeful but getting close. Two non midfielders in the top 30, time to find someone new to do the voting.

      Commenter
      Tim
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 25, 2012, 11:18AM
    • No one at Essendon would have taken votes of him? What crap. Stanton was second up until round 11 (?) and finished 12th. Jetta and Bellchambers of all people took votes off him in the Port and Kangaroos games... never mind the fact that you play an opposition team meaning THEY can take votes off him. If 44 players on a field can't "take votes" off another player, then maybe, just maybe they won for a reason.

      Commenter
      Jessica
      Date and time
      September 25, 2012, 11:20AM
    • I see Juddy got 2 votes in the chicken wing game which Carlton lsot by 53 points. What I cant understand is why he didnt get 3 votes. Gotta love the mid fielders (sorry Brownlow) medal.

      Commenter
      Juddy
      Location
      carlton
      Date and time
      September 25, 2012, 11:49AM

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