Goddard ready for No. 1 role

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - 2:38 PM

Jeremy Goddard celebrated his 20th birthday on Tuesday this week and is looking forward keenly to taking over from Mitch Andrews as Claremont’s No. 1 league ruckman this season.

He donned the No. 50 jumper at his league debut, against Perth at Lathlain Park in a round-20 fixture last August when he filled in for the injured Mitch Andrews and gained 30 hit-outs in a wholehearted effort which played a solid part in Claremont’s 99-point victory.

That remains as Goddard’s only league appearance --- and in an indication of his respect of the magnificent work Andrews did in leading Claremont’s ruck over the past seven seasons he requested that he should take over the No. 24 jumper which was worn with such distinction by Andrews.

Goddard is a man mountain and a ruckman of immense promise. But he certainly has big shoes to fill. The 31-year-old Andrews was a member of Claremont’s league premiership sides in 2011 and 2012 and in 109 league appearances for the Tigers he gained 3246 hit-outs.

Goddard is a work in progress, and he is progressing wonderfully well. A member of Western Australia’s 16s and 18s sides, he has represented Claremont in 30 colts and 21 reserves matches. He is a commanding figure on the field with an imposing physical presence. He is an excellent tap ruckman who can use either hand to palm the ball to a teammate.

He also impresses with his marking ability, strong tackling and long kicking.

Goddard’s development is being helped by the expert tuition he is receiving from legendary football identity Percy Johnson, who has been appointed as Claremont’s ruck coach this year.

The 85-year-old Johnson, a member of Western Australia’s Hall of Fame, has an unbroken involvement in WAFL football as a player, coach and television critic for almost 70 years.

Johnson, a passionate student of the game, has had stints as a league coach with Swan Districts, South Fremantle and West Perth. He also played 228 WAFL matches and 13 for WA. An athletic ruckman, Johnson played 180 league matches for East Fremantle, 21 for Swan Districts and 27 for Claremont. He was a member of East Fremantle’s 1957 premiership side.

He led the Tigers ruck in all 21 matches in 1960 when he scored 39 goals to share the honour of the club’s leading goalkicker with rover Murray Ward. He has worked as a ruck coach with the Fremantle Dockers, East Fremantle and Swan Districts and also helped previous Claremont league coaches Gerard Neesham, Darrell Panizza and Mark Riley.

By Ken Casellas