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BJ instilled our club culture

Former St Kilda and Essendon champion Brendon Goddard has added another accolade to his already storied AFL career, winning the 2018 AFL Players’ Association Madden Medal. Former teammate, Marty Gleeson penned an exclusive column about his experiences with the 334-gamer throughout his time with the Bombers.

Brendon Goddard and I came to the club at the same time ahead of the 2013 season — BJ through the free agency period and myself through the draft.

Both being new to the club, he was incredibly helpful to me early on in my time at Essendon. Coming from St Kilda he was a very established player and his football knowledge was incredible.

During my first year I didn’t play much senior footy so once it came to the season beginning we were on different programs, but in the years after that he was a guiding light for the other young boys and I.

BJ has the ability to see the game as well as anyone I’ve come across. He always sees the play unfolding ahead of him and it was something he was known for around the club.

For a lot of us younger defenders, the advice he gave was about being able to look around you and understand what was going to unfold. He was vocal in communicating that and being able to help out his teammates. It was one of his strengths and his absence on the track is something we’ve noticed.

When I was part of the first-to-third-year academy, I noticed that BJ would go out of his way to spend time with us. Our meetings were at the end of the day — normally around 5-6pm — but he would always stick around and share his insights.

I’d always respected him, but it grew from there.

We went away on an end of season footy trip to Hong Kong one year and he looked after me really well over there. He’s pretty big on the footy trips.

I started to get into golf with him as well.

He’s an awesome golfer, definitely the best I’ve ever played with. BJ would take the boys out to his club Metro and we’d have a few hits there. It was always a pleasure to go out on the course with him.

A lot of people don’t realise how caring he is.

On game days sometimes externally people saw things differently but internally we knew BJ was passionate and wanted to get the best out of himself and his teammates.

He was always striving for success and trying to bring his teammates along with him.

He was respected around the club enormously because of his caring nature and how committed he was to team success.

That legacy has been instilled in the playing group here and if in the future we do have success it will be because of guys like BJ helping drive that culture throughout his playing career.

2016 was a tough year for everyone and coming into the club it was probably something BJ hadn’t expected.

He was thrust into the role of captain but there couldn’t have been a better person for it at the time.

BJ’s leadership from around the club to game day was great. There was no expectation that we would go out and win every game, but he focussed on instilling a culture that would affect how we were going to play for years to come.

It was about competing and giving it everything we’ve got.

He tried to create an environment where people came in and wanted to get better, where we would challenge each other to improve but also enjoying ourselves while we did it.

I’m not sure what path he’s going to go down next, whether it be coaching or in the media, but he sees the game so well and would be an asset.

BJ loved footy and loved the club.

He’ll be sorely missed, especially in team meetings and mentoring the younger players.