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Watson puts slow start behind him on road to 200

Jobe Watson of the Bombers stands on the mark during the round 13 AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the Geelong Cats at the Telstra Dome June 27, 2003 in Melbourne, Australia.
Jobe Watson played his first AFL game in June 2003

WHEN reflecting on a player’s career, it is often easy to use his first game as a starting point for what followed. 

But for Jobe Watson, who this weekend will reach his 200th game in Essendon colours, retracing game No. 1 isn’t a great way to open an account into what has become one of the best modern careers in red and black.

Watson didn’t register a kick in his first game, back in round 13, 2003, against Geelong on a Friday night, and could muster only two handballs. One was a small glimpse into what was to come – a baulk around an opponent and a slick, weighted ball. But that was about it.

For a player who has become known for his ability to find the ball – almost effortlessly at times – it was hardly a grandiose beginning. But what makes Watson’s 200-game milestone (and career on the whole) so significant is that his slow start stretched well beyond one game. It lasted three years, and didn’t look like turning around.

In a feature in this week’s AFL Record, Watson’s longtime close friend and former teammate Ted Richards recalls what it was like for the pair at the outset.

“We’d travel to and from training together, and I can remember the chats in the car at the frustrations we were both having,” the now-Sydney Swans defender says.

“We both struggled for opportunities for years. There’d be times when Jobe would get an opportunity and then unfortunately he’d get an injury. It was incredibly challenging and frustrating for the both of us. We’d just whinge to each other in the car every night after training.”

Richards, who has followed Watson’s career closely from Sydney, talks about their pair’s school days, Watson’s development into a star, his leadership qualities and his mate’s capacity to handle the adversity of the supplements saga. 

Things you might not know about Jobe Watson
* He played the cello at school (and apparently struggled with it).
* His teammates criticise him for his fashion sense.
* He loves his American sport and is a big fan of the San Diego Chargers in the NFL.
* He works one day a week in property for Buyer’s Advocate.
* Until a few years ago he played the odd game of cricket in the off-season for Old Xaverians, and hit a couple of centuries.
* He is renowned for being happy to pay for flight upgrades or spend too much on a pair of shoes, but unwilling to spend an extra 10 cents for an expensive coffee.
* Every year he normally goes on an end-of-season trip with former Essendon teammates Ted Richards, Mark Bolton, David Hille and Chris Heffernan.

Read the full Jobe Watson feature in the round 14 edition of the AFL Record, available at all grounds.