Mentoring Jack Watts

There is no purpose served in blaming Dean Bailey and the Melbourne Football club.
But blame Dean Bailey and the Melbourne Football club
Jack Watts was the standout selection in the 2008 draft. A standout. You can rewrite history and talk of Naitanui and Daniel Rich, but Jack was the crown jewel of the draft, if not the entire history of the draft, such was his talent.
Naturally the club with the first selection was the worst performed team of that year.
That team was indisputedly Melbourne.
Won three of twenty-two games. Ask the members and they will tell you that was a flattering result.
But supporters if nothing else, are irrational optimists. Amnesia and a lack of cogent reasoning are common characteristics in committed fans. The next year, hope sprang eternal. There was the promise of better times ahead. This was to THE year, (as if that had never been said before). And much of the cause for anticipation was the recruitment of schoolboy superstar, Jack Watts. Given jumper number 4, an obvious sign of the high regard in which he was held before even playing a game.
The reality.
After 5 rounds in 2009, Melbourne was no better. In fact it was worse. Melbourne was in familiar territory and sat fifteenth of sixteen on the ladder. Thank goodness for Freo and percentage.
The members were despondent, or more accurately, even more despondent.
The Melbourne fans are a tolerant lot. Years of mediocrity does that to you.
But even they were now wanting something from the season. Not a lot, just something.
So to appease the fans, to give them some hope for the future, some prospect that their grandchildren may see finals in their life times, Melbourne took action. What did they do. They selected the great white hope. The star recruit. Jack.
The fact that he was 18 years of age, 71 kilos (fully dressed) and was six months short of shaving, seemed to have escaped their attention.
Similarly it did not seem to occur to anyone Melbourne were playing Collingwood in the Queens birthday match. The biggest match of the year for Melbourne. Against an arch rival on the MCG in front of 60,000 plus fans. Put another way 59,450 more than Jack had ever played in front of before..
The contest was not actually a contest. Ronda Rousey v Holly Holm was a contest. It at least that lasted a few minutes.
When Jack ran on the ground at the six minute mark of the first quarter, the game was effectively over.
He was greeted by polite warm applause by the loyal member who was prepared to stick it out to quarter time ……………………. and was then hit by a bus.
Metaphorically that is.
In truth Jack ran into three King Street bouncers who went by the names Shane “the Hammer” O’Bree, Big Maxy ( Nick Maxwell) and Heath Shaw who is sufficiently tough to not require a nickname.
Jack was monstered.
Bear hugged, body slammed and a suplex of the top of the fence did the trick. Or should say, the damage.
He has never recovered. Not that day. Not ever.
His mother says since that day Jack often wakes in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. Not even a warm glass of milk and reading his Brighton Grammar Year book can take his mind off the incident.
Post traumatic stress disorder is now a readily identifiable condition.
A potted definition of PTSC is it is a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock, typically involving vivid recall of the experience with dulled responses to others and the outside world.
And that fits the bill for Jack. In fact the entry for PTSD in the Oxford dictionary, says – see Jack Watts.

And that’s what dam (da mcdonell) having taken on the role of mentoring Jack, needs to address.

Options included psychotherapy, frontal lobe lobotomy and hallucinogenics, but am unsure if such measures are WADA compliant.
So have elected the more modest but trust equally effective “rebirthing” route.
Seems perverse that the purpose of the exercise is to exorcise demons in order to play with the demons. Life is like that.
The question is how to go about it, not actually having done anything like this before.
Fortunately recalled an event earlier in the year at Etihad’s, or Telstra or Colonial or whatever it is called this week. The mass baptism.
Hundreds if not thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses turned up, patiently waited their turn before the many bath tubs to be baptised and therefore “rebirthed”.
There was another of these event planned in January. Surely they would not mind if one interloper used their facilities for a similar purpose. After all it was just another form of rebirthing.
For Jack however, one modest dunking would not cut it. For this exercise to have effect and meaning, he needed to be dunked a number of times and for a few minutes each time. Accept in other fields (notably espionage and the torture industry) it may be referred to as “waterboarding”. It was apparently popular at Guantanamo Bay but here it would be done with a caring purpose in mind. The chances of losing Jack were remote, although developing a fear of water and playing at Etihad were real possibilities. A risk worth taking, given Melbourne never win at Etihad anyway.
One problem was the degree to which Jack ought to be informed. Don’t want to lose his confidence. But little good can be had with prior notice. Best to suggest without actually saying so, that Paul Roos requested his attendance on a particular day for a training exercise to discover his inner self. Actually am just banking on the fact that Jack is so compliant and docile that will he just do what he is told and not ask too many questions.
The purpose of course is that at the end of the day he wont be so compliant and will indeed be quite annoyed and aggravated at having been subjected to the episode.
That is the desired outcome.
We actually want Jack to be Heath Shaw.
We want Jack to refuse to shake hands with opponents before matches and even give them a clip behind the ear when they are not watching.
Just like there is a good Goran and bad Goran – we are after bad Jack.
And in so doing, to play the sort of unsociable football that will have Jack compared to Luke Hodge and not Richard Lounder.
And it can happen.
But only with dramatic action. The rebirthing (read waterboarding) is clearly the answer.

The message also needs to be reinforced. So step two.
For Christmas Jack received the Shad Helmstetter book – “What do you say when you talk to yourself”
It will tell Jack, he is a product of his upbringing.
Being told he is a decent guy, good athlete with nice manners, and should only speak when spoken to – has made him who he is. In one sense a credit to his parents, but frankly the root cause of the problem.
Jack Watts needs to reprogram his brain.
To understand that being nice has its place, but that place is not on the football field.
To drive an appropriate change in behaviour, Jack needs to understand:
– Programming creates beliefs
– Beliefs create attitudes
– Attitudes create feelings
– And feeling determine actions and therefore results.
We need reprogramming. In terms of his football, his mantra needs to be:
– You are talented but are to be less nice, it is a brutal game
– You must believe you were taken ay number one in the draft for a reason
– That means you Jack are the best footballer at Melbourne, and one of the best in the league – bar none.
– And that feeling of superiority will be evident from the way you conduct yourself on and off the field.
– You will develop a swagger and attitude – bad attitude.
Will have this mantra recorded on a CD to be played on high rotation at night for the subliminal message to become ingrained in his psyche. Accept his mother may be disappointed with the outcome. There is always collateral damage in these matters.

Thirdly, Jack needs a role model.
Would actually want “le Bron” but a bit of a hard ask, even for da.
Want a soul mate with grunge, graffiti loving, who puts his feet on seats of trains, and again has some bad “additude man”. Whilst don’t advocate the Dustin Martin, Jeff Garland and Ben Cousins approach – some spitting, swearing, socks down and refusal to join the leadership group would indicate progress. A tatt, even a modest “heart and rose” would be encouraging but this may be a bridge too far. Suspect we will finish more with a Jobe Watson or Matt Priddis styled toughness rather than a Dane Swan – but that would be a good outcome.
His new mentor – Paul Gallon. Inspired.

Consequently the da mcdonell email to Jack simply read:


Be at Etihad on 15th of January at 5.20pm. Bring bathers.
Ignore the thousands of others in the crowd, they are part of a massive pre match entertainment. Trust me.

By the way attached is a book to read. Have underlined the important paragraphs for you.

Regards DA
Not information overload, but should do the trick.
Am filled with both trepidation and excitement for the relaunch of the Jack Watts career in 2016. Very confident we are about to see a new (hard edge) Jack Watts this year, or as he is now to be known – “Jaywot” – the rapper cum socks down mean machine of the AFL. No best Clubman awards for Jack – we are in for the “most courageous” category.
You are invited to share Jack’s journey throughout 2016 to see how successful the strategy proves to be.

Regards da mcdonell.

About da mcdonell

Established "dam Sports Crisis Managment" to salvage & reinvigorate flagging careers of elite athletes. In practice mentoring rather than coaching or managing in the traditional sense. In the Almanac, we focus on the AFL players of the "dam AFL sports team"


  1. Dusty Martin’s the man for the job role model job dam.

  2. Is Jack Watts Geoff Hayward incarnate?

  3. Earl O'Neill says

    You want socks-down tough? Derek Kickett’s the man for the mentoring.

  4. Davep – Geoff Hayward turned it around in a season.
    Watts has had 100+ games….
    But it isn’t all his fault.
    Melbourne, without Watts, wouldn’t have been better.
    And there’s no guarantee Watts would’ve been better at another club.
    He is what he is. But he isn’t yet what he will become.
    Maybe he needs to use the force, the dark side.
    Melbourne do too. They’re Demons. The dark side shouldn’t be too hard to attain…

  5. Has Bryce Gibbs and Jack Watts ever been seen in the same room? Just Askng

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