Apr 20, 2021
Nathan Jones is the greatest person who ever lived
In my entire Melbourne Football Club supporting life, there is no player I’ve loved more than Nathan Jones.
During the darkest moments, when it felt like supporting the Dees was a macabre procession of failures, there was Jones on the bottom of a pack trying to will his teammates to show just a modicum of his desire.
With his 300th game on Saturday, Jones represents every Demons supporter who has refused to give up on the club despite countless reason to throw in the towel. Despite it being so incredibly painful for so long.
Consider that in his career, Jones has experienced 100 more losses than wins. In 300 games, he’s not even yet reached 100 career wins. He sits on 98 wins at the moment, compared to 3 draws and 198 losses.
As so often is the case, the statistics don’t represent the lived experience. In those 300 games, Jones has experienced lows so low that they tunnelled through the Earth and came out the other side.
For a lot of those years, there were only lows.
In the whole Mark Neeld era, Jones experienced just five wins, the same number he’s experienced this year alone.
He collected wooden spoons in 2008 and 2009 and had lived through a finals drought so long, NASA managed to build a spaceship and fly it to Pluto before the Dees had managed to make it back to the postseason.
For long stretches of this time, Jones was a lone fighter waiting for the cavalry to arrive.
He would be waiting for an age.
When others didn’t even try, Jones never gave anything less than 100 per cent.
He was like the student in a group assignment doing all the work while the rest drank at the pub.
In that time, Jones would often have to front the media, answering criticism that applied to every single person at the club, except for him.
He’s had eight AFL coaches including three interim coaches, and some of those were coaches that ended player’s careers, not build them.
Jones had to put up with us fans despairing and venting.
I’ve met Jones briefly twice. He said to me the first time I met him, ‘You’ve given us a lot of criticism over the years.’
I felt nothing but shame but pointed out I’d never criticised him, and it had just been awful for the longest time.
He looked down and said, ‘yeah it has.’
There have been more talented players at Melbourne in my lifetime, more celebrated players, but no other player comes close in terms of character, of pure unadulterated competitiveness.
I want the Dees to win a premiership more for him than for me, it would be the ultimate karma payoff.
But footy doesn’t always reward the most deserving, often the opposite.
Yet a premiership would tell you nothing about Nathan Jones. He’s been a leader when it was hardest. He’s never complained, never chased a better, easier opportunity.
He’s the heart and soul of the club and has been the one shining light in the darkest of nights.
No matter what happens for the rest of his career, Jones legacy is secure.
He’s everything good about football and I absolutely love him.
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