KADE Simpson is my favourite teammate over the course of my career so far.
He’s one of the most respected players at the footy club, and he’s been the bloke I’ve followed around the last eight years. When I arrived at the footy club, I followed him around and took in everything he did: he was the guy I idolised and I wanted to earn his respect as much as I could.
I spent my first few years doing that and in the end, I played my best footy alongside him and some of his best footy was alongside me.
He was one of my most-admired players when I barracked for Carlton. I followed his career when I wasn’t here and I was lucky enough to come here and play alongside him.
’Simmo’ has always shown the level of professionalism that you need. He’s been a leader of the football club for so long, and while he may not say too much off the field, he’s got a bit of white-line fever on the field — he won’t mind me saying that.
It just shows the guys that it doesn’t matter what kind of character you are or what walk of life you’ve come from: when you step onto the footy field, there’s a level of commitment that you have to show to your jumper and to your teammates. You don’t have to look any further to get a lesson from that than Kade Simpson.
No matter what stage of the game it is, he throws everything out there and he leaves no stone unturned. If it’s late in the game, you know you can always count on the bloke wearing the long-sleeved jumper in the No.6 to keep running, to get to that next contest, to go back with the flight of the ball.
He has shown over his whole career that it’s what he’s going to do and that’s how much respect we have for him. It’s something we’ll miss at the footy club: we’ll have guys to step up into his role, but you can’t replace a club legend too quickly.
I’m rapt that he got to play as long as he did and that I got to spend as much time as I have with him. One of my favourite memories in football is about ‘Simmo’.
I reckon if you asked any of the guys that played, their favourite Kade Simpson memory is his 250th game. I could almost guarantee that it’d be their favourite game they’ve played in.
The whole way the game went, the way we played, the way we won, the emotion after the game… it was one of the special moments you play in and something I’ll never forget.
It’s up there with my career highlights and I can’t even remember how I played, I just remember the emotion after the game and how it made me feel. It’s something I’ll remember for a long time.
‘Simmo’ told me the news couple of weeks ago: us as a back-line group were some of the earlier ones to know. Funnily enough, I was actually planning on wearing the long-sleeve jumper if I played on the weekend. I’ve never worn it in my career, but unfortunately I’m not going to get the opportunity to do that.
It’s more about the way you play than the way you look out there, and it’s bloody hard to play like him.
It’s on us as a football club and as a playing group: we owe him. He’s given absolutely everything he has for the football club in the 18 years he’s been here. He has given all he’s got in every game and us as a football club have a responsibility to show that.
I’m a bit flat that I’m not out there this weekend but that’s the way footy goes: I guess it’s fitting given I’ve been out of the team the last few years. I missed his 300th and unfortunately now I’ll miss his last game, yet he’s barely missed a game since I’ve been here.
When I got injured, it was one of the things that I was really shattered about — I didn’t know how long he had left to play. I was just praying that I would get to play a few more games with him, so to have this season and play alongside each other again is something that I’m going to cherish for my whole career.
There are a few moments in your career and a few guys that you play with in your career that you’re always going to remember.
His stature at our football club is something I’ll never forget and hopefully I get to stay to my kids one day that I got to play with him. They’ll probably look at him and see his size and weight and you wouldn’t think he’s much of a footballer: his heart got him through, and that’s what we all loved about him.
I’m definitely going to miss him.