Football great’s comeback from ‘rock bottom’ drug conviction
AFL great Mark “Bomber” Thompson has revealed the forgiveness of his son was a crucial turning point as he sought to rebuild his life following his drug conviction.
Speaking for the first time on camera since his conviction for drug possession in 2019, Thompson honestly faced up to his mistakes.
“Maybe they (sons Michael and Daniel) thought they lost me a bit because I sort of went away from them,” the five-time premiership winner told A Current Affair through tears.
“But I remember getting a message from (Michael) saying, ‘doesn’t matter Dad, we’re 100 per cent behind you’ and I was so proud of the kid.”
In January 2018, a police raid discovered more than 400 ecstasy tables and more than 30 grams of ice on his property.
“It happened. Thinking back now, I had no idea of the law. I had no idea that under my roof, (the drugs are) in my name. I had no idea,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s former housemate, Thomas Windsor, was later jailed for possession.
“You know, if you go back in time, should I let that guy into my house? No. It happened,” Thompson said.
The former Essendon captain and Geelong coach was charged with drug trafficking but was found not guilty on those counts.
“I never thought I’d get to prison at all,” Thompson said.
“I was a drug user. At no point did I ever sell drugs.”
He was later found guilty to drug possession and was ordered to undergo rehabilitation.
During that time, Thompson began regular counselling sessions with Melbourne-based psychologist Sandy Rea.
“(Ms Rea) was fantastic. This man was crying after about three minutes. She got me. She has the ability to just open people up,” Thompson shares.
Ms Rea diagnosed Thompson with post-traumatic stress disorder, following his stint at Essendon during the infamous supplements saga.
“I didn’t think our club really supported its people,” he said of the former Essendon administration.
As part of his treatment, Ms Rea ordered Thompson to reach out to five people he cared about each week.
Thompson said the reconnection with his loved ones changed his life.
“It’s incredible. It was the most powerful thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said.
“It’s almost like the build-up of years and years and years of emotion, you know anger, the whole lot was released.”
It’s a lesson he wants others to hear.
“Think about what you’ve done and know that people who love you will forgive you for whatever you do. Don’t avoid them,” he said with the booming oratory of a footy coach.
Thompson seems happy with life away from the AFL bubble.
He’s taken up woodwork and has found that working on tables and cheeseboards keeps his mind focused.
“I’ve got the purpose and the purpose is to come and do some woodwork with all my mates,” he said.