AFL great Mark ‘Bomber’ Thompson has opened up about his remarkable road to recovery after his life spiralled out of control when he became hooked on ice following an illustrious playing and coaching career.
In an emotion-charged television interview on Monday, Thompson fought back tears as he revealed how earning the forgiveness of his two sons Michael and Daniel proved to be the turning point in getting his life back on track.
‘Maybe they thought they lost me a bit because I sort of went away from them. 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,’ he told A Current Affair.
‘To me that was like, so powerful, my child could do that for me. When I’ve probably given him a fair bit.’
AFL great Mark ‘Bomber’ Thomspon (pictured) has opened up his road to recovery after he was charged with drug possession
Mark Thompson and wife Jana’s (pictured together in 2014) marriage crumbled as his life unravelled following his departure from the AFL
The premiership player and coach’s spectacular fall from grace has been highly- publicised, culminating in the breakdown of his marriage and being charged with drug possession after police raided his Port Melbourne warehouse apartment.
Thompson became hooked on the drug ice through his housemate – a heavily-tattooed bikie associate – and told a court in 2019 how he was in a ‘bad place’ and used ice to ‘mask the pain’.
The 203-game player hit rock bottom when he was convicted for drug possession and placed on a 12-month community corrections order. His housemate was jailed for drug possession.
Thompson is still scarred by his ice-addicted past, refusing to answer questions when pressed about his drug usage, which he admitted was to ‘take away the pain’.
‘Does it matter? To me, it doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant. I openly admitted I was on it and it was a long time ago. And I don’t want to go back there. I don’t like talking about it much. It’s not part of who I am going forward,’ he said.
Thompson had turned to drugs after being left feeling ‘completely lost’ and without ‘much hope for the future’ when he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
Thompson told A Current Affair on Monday night how he was ‘completely lost’ after his life spiralled out of control when he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder
The Essendon Bombers drugs supplements scandal was a tipping point for Thompson, who felt he was ‘part of a regime that was maybe not supporting our players’.
Thirty-four Bombers players were banned for two years following the supplements scandal in 2012, with head coach James Hird sacked by the club and Thompson – then assistant coach – slapped with a $30,000 fine.
Thompson quit the sport and was later diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, which sent his life spiralling into dark spaces.
‘I was completely lost. I lost faith in everything and in the end I didn’t have much hope for the future. I was fighting a fight I couldn’t win,’ he said.
Thompson began seeing psychologist Sandy Rea in early 2018, who he credits with bringing him back on track after diagnosing him with PTSD.
He now spends his days working with his family in a workshop in Airport West.
Thompson (pictured during an Essendon match in July 2011) was fined $30,000 for his role in the Essendon supplement scandal
Mark Thompson (pictured left) with Geelong Cats captain Tom Harley after winning the 2007 AFL Grand Final at the MCG
The former electrician is making resin tables in the factory with his brother Steven and has reconnected with his family including his ex-wife and three children.
Despite their split, Thompson’s ex-wife Jana and his children supported him through his battle in court.
Thompson was one the biggest stars in the AFL in the 1980s and early 1990s, where he won three premierships with the Bombers in 1984, 1985 and 1993.
He played 203 games and booted 50 goals for the Bombers until he retired in 1996.
He took up the reins as coach of Geelong in 2000 and eventually led them to Grand Final success in 2007, before a second premiership in 2009.
Thompson quit his job with the Cats in 2010, but only months later returned to the AFL to be a mentor to James Hird at Essendon.
Thompson took up a commentary role with Fox Footy following his retirement from coaching at the end of the 2014 season.