Wat­son re­tires bro­ken- hearted Dope saga mars love for footy

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - MICHAEL WARNER

JOBE Wat­son walks away from the game he once loved ad­mit­ting his heart was bro­ken by the Essendon drugs saga.

Wat­son, 32, yes­ter­day an­nounced he was re­tir­ing at the end of the sea­son af­ter a stel­lar AFL ca­reer stained by four years of scan­dal.

“It’s a lit­tle bit like you’re in a re­la­tion­ship and a part­ner cheats on you ... you might get back to­gether but you prob­a­bly don’t love her the same way. That’s a lit­tle bit like how I feel about it,” Wat­son said.

“I love the game but it doesn’t feel the same to me as what it once did.

“There’s prob­a­bly just hurt as­so­ci­ated with it and when you get in­flicted like that, with that sort of pain, then in­vari­ably the way you feel about some­thing changes.”

Fight­ing back tears, Wat­son said the low point was not the loss of his 2012 Brown­low Medal but the day in Jan­uary last year when he and 33 team­mates were wiped out for dop­ing by the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport.

“The most dif­fi­cult time was cer­tainly af­ter the WADA find­ing, hav­ing to be there with my team­mates and go through that,” he said.

Wat­son said he de­cided to re­tire af­ter Satur­day’s nar­row eight- point win over Carl­ton at the MCG, broke the news to coach John Wors­fold in his of­fice on Mon­day and told his team­mates early yes­ter­day.

Wat­son won the club’s best and fairest three times and was twice an All- Aus­tra- lian but the years im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing his Brown­low Medal win were plagued by the dop­ing scan­dal.

He was Essendon cap­tain from 2010 un­til the end of 2015. “It was a dream for me to play for the Essendon Foot­ball Club,” Wat­son said.

For­mer Bombers coach Mark Thomp­son said Wat­son had emerged from the shadow of his leg­endary fa­ther – triple Essendon premier­ship star Tim Wat­son – to leave his own legacy. “He’s had a mar­vel­lous ca­reer and one he had to carve out for him­self,” Thomp­son said.

“Be­ing the son of Tim, he had to prove to the world that he could play – and he did.

“But the last five years have just taken his foot­ball and work life away. We haven’t seen the best of him.”

Wat­son said yes­ter­day he knew it was time to re­tire be­cause the game had speeded up and he had slowed down.

“I know that the time is up and I think the worst thing you can do is lie to your­self and try to con­vince your­self that it’s not, but deep down you know,” he said.

TEAR­FUL: Jobe Wat­son an­nounces his re­tire­ment. Pic­ture: ALEX COP­PEL

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