Jake Melksham and Michael Hibberd’s friendship goes back a number of years through their time at Essendon and now at the Melbourne Football Club. Ahead of his close mate’s 150th AFL match, Hibberd pens a special tribute to the man known simply as ‘Snake’.
There are a few sides to Jake Melksham.
He’s a footballer who’s a great finisher, I love that about him but he’s much more than that.
Firstly, he’s a devoted family man to daughter Frankie and partner Stacey and his friends are a massive part of his life.
I first met Jake before I found my way to the Bombers. One of my teammates from Frankston, Marcus Marigliani, was on the rookie list at Essendon and I came up to visit him one day in Brighton when Jake was living with him.
Through that association, I gravitated towards Jake when I got to Essendon because we’re similar types of characters — knockabout blokes who enjoy a laugh.
He has an infectious personality and you can’t help but have a good time when he’s around. He’s always there to make people laugh.
He’s a jokester. Every time we’re around each other, we seem to be laughing or taking the mickey out of the boys. If I could pick anyone in the world to have a beer with it’d be him.
Obviously, we take footy seriously but when it’s time to switch off and have some fun, we’re both on the same page. He’s always the funniest one there and we don’t take life too seriously.
I’m from down Frankston way and he’s from Oak Park but despite being miles apart, I wouldn’t say Oak Park is any better than where I grew up. It’s a pretty rough area and sometimes that comes out in him.
Having Jake at the Bombers helped me settle in and he was someone who I felt comfortable talking to straight away. I didn’t have to worry about what to say or what not to say with him, I trusted Jake right from the start.
A favourite memory of mine of playing with Jake at the Bombers was when he kicked the sealer against the Cats in Round 15, 2011. We were the underdogs that day so it was a special victory and Jake booted the winner from the goal-square — he also had a shaved head so it makes for a great photo.
Eventually, he decided to leave the Bombers and we were actually away in Europe when he made the decision. I was with him when he rang the club and his manager told him of the news.
I was all for him leaving if it was the best thing for him and his footy. We spoke about it a fair bit but I just wanted him to be happy.
He did the same for me when I was making the decision about my future. It was never about influencing each other’s decisions. It was more about being a sounding board when required.
Obviously, the supplements ban happened in between both of us moving clubs and we spent a fair bit of time together during that year.
He went on a holiday with his family initially and I went with the other Bomber boys but apart from that six-week period, we relied on each other a fair bit, whether it was training and getting fit again and also having fun and enjoying the time off while we had it.
We spent a lot of time together that year, having a beer, sitting around each other’s houses and just talking about life. It was good to have a friend as close as Jake is during that time.
At the Dees, I’m number 14 and he’s 18 so we’re nice and close in the locker-room, although sometimes I wish he was further away.
That’s the other thing about Jake, behind closed doors he can be a pest. He’s a larrikin, especially when you get six beers into him, and a menace who rates himself on the dancefloor.
We never lived together and I don’t reckon he’d ever want to. He thinks I’m messy, although I’m not, and he’s a clean freak. We tend to room together during interstate trips and he complains enough in those two days.
He’s also tight with his money. We have lunch together once per week and we play the credit card game, where six of us put our cards into a hat to see who pays the bill and Jake actually gets sweaty palms and starts shaking.
He’s petrified of his card getting pulled out and the relief on his face when he doesn’t have to pay is hilarious — it’s only topped by his face when he realises he has to foot the bill.
One other thing is he always has to comment on people’s fashion. It doesn’t matter who it is or if they’re kit is average or decent, he always has something to say, especially when it’s me.
He likes to think he’s sharp with the way he dresses. Anytime we come in late in the afternoon to the club, he’ll always make sure he’s wearing his best outfit.
We’ve travelled together a lot over the journey. One of my favourite stories of Jake was when we were flying from Hong Kong to Munich early in the morning and Jake was staying in Brendon Goddard’s room, while Michael Hurley and I were rooming together.
We rang him at six to get to the flight on time but we couldn’t wake him up so Jake actually missed his flight to Munich, which is around 14 hours!
Luckily, we stopped over in Thailand for a fair bit and Jake just managed to catch us. He rang us and asked why we didn’t wake him up but we actually tried to!
He’s done a few things like that over the journey and it’s been great fun to see it all unfold. He’s like a brother to me and I couldn’t be happier or prouder to see him to notch 150 games — there wouldn’t be many more deserving.
I look forward to being part of the next 100.