Former Cat and Giant Steve Johnson has opened up about the day he got sacked by Geelong, saying that coach Chris Scott couldn’t even look him in the eye.
Stevie J described the sinking feeling he had when he figured out the sack was about to come in an excerpt published by News Corp from his new book, Stevie J: The Cat With The Giant Story.
Johnson said he spoke to Scott and footy manager Steve Hocking, trying to convince them he was less of a risk than younger players like Darcy Lang and Cory Gregson.
But he saw the writing on the wall in a training session ahead of the final round against Adelaide.
"I was standing next to Cameron Ling, who was doing some work with our player leadership group when I saw Chris Scott walk up the race and on to the field," Johnson said.
"I looked towards Scotty, but he just turned away. My stomach churned. 'Oh shit,' I muttered. He couldn’t look at me. I reckon I’ve just been given the arse.
"Not long after the session wrapped up, I was tapped on the shoulder by Steve Hocking.
"He asked me to come for a chat. I had a sick feeling in my stomach.”
Stevie J said the meeting was tough.
"The meeting only went for 15 minutes but it felt like an hour. Hock looked me in the eye and delivered the news. 'We’re not going to offer you a contract for next season,' he said.
"I tried not to show any emotion. I knew there was nothing I could say to change their minds, so I just had to cop it on the chin.”
Johnson was told that he was unlikely to get a senior spot going forward.
"I asked them why I was not deemed up to getting another year.
"The answer was something along the lines of them not being comfortable with me playing the majority of the following season in the VFL.
"I was in a bit of a state of disbelief. Then the reality of the situation dawned on me.
"My lip started quivering a little bit as I looked around the room. I shook their hands and walked out.
"I didn’t want to be bitter at that moment, but I was. I had been sacked from my job.
"I’m a pretty proud person, and I still felt I was capable of doing my job.
"But I was embarrassed that my bosses had lost their belief in me. It was a crushing feeling."
Johnson and Scott later debriefed over beers at Stevie J’s house, and Johnson came out of the situation with a lot of respect for his former coach.
"There’s no doubt Chris found it really difficult to have to push three of us (Mathew Stokes and James Kelly) out of the club… I thought it showed a lot of character for Scotty to come around to my house,” Johnson wrote.
“I was really impressed by that."