Simon Goodwin is in his second season as head coach of Melbourne’s AFL team.In a rehab clinic with drug addicts and sex addicts, Simon Goodwin had hit rock bottom.
He was a dual AFL premiership player. A multiple All Australian. A triple club champion. And a gambling addict.
In 2007, Goodwin was caught by the AFL betting on a game the previous season while an esteemed Adelaide player.
Goodwin was fined $40,000, half the amount suspended, and ordered to undergo an eight-week rehabilitation program.
Which is how he found himself in a room with, among others, two sex addicts, two drug addicts and a shopping addict.
Goodwin described being caught gambling by the AFL as the most embarrassing moment of his life.
But it also saved him.
“If I hadn’t hit rock bottom, who would have known where it could have taken me,” Goodwin said in 2008.
“I feel fortunate that it occurred when it did … I have said to my wife and a few other people, the fine of $20,000 was probably the best 20 grand I’ll ever spend in my life.”
Goodwin told of his “emotional torture” when addicted to gambling.
“I was ready once I hit rock bottom with what happened in the AFL to go into rehab,” he said.
Until then, Goodwin, on the surface, was living a charmed life.
As a brilliant young sportsman, Goodwin co-captained South Australia’s under-19 cricket team.
But he opted for football and was selected by the Crows in the 1996 pre-season draft.
In just his 10th AFL game, as a 20-year-old in 1997, he played in a premiership. He won another flag the following year.
Goodwin claimed the first of five All Australian jumpers in 2000, the same year he won the first of three club champion awards.
But scratch the surface, he was battling demons.
His grandfather was an alcoholic until beating the bottle later in life.
And Goodwin’s parents separated when he was four-years-old.
“Obviously as a child, I was scarred and traumatised to some degree by the separation, which put me in a high-risk category,” Goodwin said in 2008.
In December 2005, Goodwin apologised for threatening a newspaper photographer.
He was among Crows players drinking at an inner-city holte in Adelaide, on the same street as The Advertiser newspaper offices.
The newspaper sent a photographer to snap pictures from the street outside the pub. Goodwin saw him and confronted him.
“If you run any photos, I will f***ing kill you,” Goodwin said, according to the photographer.
Goodwin maintained he didn’t threaten to kill but apologised for threatening harm.
“I reacted in a manner which is unbecoming … it was a response that is unnatural to me,” he said at a media conference a day after the incident.
Most people agreed.
But darker times loomed.
In 2006, Goodwin’s Crows were beaten in a preliminary final by West Coast – after which, he was understood to have placed a bet on the Eagles to win the grand final.
Few knew it was the act of a gambling addict.
“I remember numerous times waking up and sitting on the end of the bed saying ‘why am I doing this?'” he said in 2008
“And 10 hours later having another crack at it.”
Those comments came after being appointed Adelaide captain, a role he filled for three seasons until retiring at the end of the 2010 season.
Within a month, Goodwin was named an assistant coach at Essendon.
He would spend four seasons with the Bombers, a period including the club’s 2012 supplements scandal which resulted in 34 players being banned for a year.
Goodwin was among five Essendon staffers who reportedly admitted to the AFL and Australian Sports Anti Doping Authority investigators they had received injections and oral supplements by the program’s designer, Stephen Dank.
Goodwin was never charged or penalised.
In August 2013, he took over as Essendon’s caretaker head coach for one game after the 12-month suspension of James Hird.
At the end of the 2014 season, after serving as a senior assistant coach to Mark Thompson, Goodwin left Essendon to join Melbourne as coach Paul Roos’ right-hand man.
Roos hatched a succession plan with Goodwin, who in 2016 was named as Melbourne’s head coach, taking effect the 2017 season.