Friends tried to reach out to Bomber
FRIENDS, former teammates and Geelong Football Club figures say they "extremely saddened" at the demise of Mark "Bomber" Thompson, who has not responded to their efforts to reach out to him in recent months.
Thompson, 54, was released on bail on Tuesday night after sensationally facing court charged with serious drug offences, including trafficking ecstasy and ice, as well as possessing ecstasy, amphetamine, LSD and Xanax.
The charges follow a raid on his Port Melbourne home in January.
Essendon premiership teammate Tim Watson said he didn't hear back when he tried to make contact with Thompson about a month ago, saying many people were concerned about the 202-game ex-player.
"I haven't spoken to him much in the last few years and I then left him a message probably a month ago, because a lot of us have been concerned about him and I thought it's time to reach out, and I didn't ever hear back. That is consistent with other people," he told SEN radio.
Watson said he was in 'disbelief' on hearing about the charges.
"I can't comprehend that the person that I played alongside with, and the type of bloke that I knew him to be as a teammate and great leader, could find himself in a situation that he has found himself in," he said.
"To piece together in my mind, it's almost impossible to think that's the same bloke.
"That's not discounting what he has been charged for, if that's the case and he is found guilty, that's reprehensible behaviour and I don't condone that in any way.
"The point is, I'm still having great difficulty in being able to marry up that person with that type of behaviour and that charge."
Watson, who played alongside Thompson in the Dons' 1984, 1985 and 1993 premiership sides, said his former teammate was troubled before returning to Essendon as an assistant coach, but the supplements saga that followed sent him over the edge.
"He was never able to put that behind him," he said.
"As is the case with a lot of people, there are still a lot of people who just are angry and bitter and twisted about what took place because they don't believe what was effectively the penalty for people was justified. He is one of those people.
"The way it was painted and the way it played out, it was something that he was demented about.
"He would stay up all night reading and trying to find bits and pieces that would prove what they were saying throughout the course of that period of time. I think it has had an effect.
"He had possible behavioural problems and was making wrong choices before he came to Essendon, but I think that may have been a tipping point for him."
On Tuesday night, Geelong chief executive Brian Cook said he had also attempted to reach out to the 2007 and 2009 premiership coach in recent times, but was yet to hear back.
"I think what you'll find is there have been a lot of people trying to reach him for some time without a response, so I think Mark has set his mind on that attitude, unfortunately, and he seems to be wanting to go it alone," Cook told the Geelong Advertiser.
"I know of a lot of people that have tried to reach him, including me, and it's just been impossible.
"It's unfortunate, but that's where it is at the moment."
Cook said it had been a sad day for his club, with a number of Thompson's ex-colleagues and players still at Kardinia Park.
Thompson is the club's second-longest serving coach, leading the Cats in 260 games between 2000-10 and lifting the club from the AFL's wilderness into a sustained powerhouse.
"I'm very saddened by the whole thing, really," Cook said.
"It's just such a negative, a real downer for us all that 'Bomber' is in this situation at the moment.
"He's been an integral part of our history, he's a premiership coach at Geelong and now to be in this position, we're just extremely saddened by it.
"We're just extremely disappointed. The truth in the matter is we don't know what to do about it apart from wait and see, but we all have a strong feeling about it, I know that, because he was an integral part of our club for so long.
"You just can't wipe those experiences."