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Tiger celebrates goal 100

Jet Dowie celebrates with (from left) Josh Sobey, Gareth Crawford, Scott Kelly and Lachlan Kelly after kicking a goal against East Warrnambool at Merrivale Recreation Reserve. Picture: Rob GunstoneJET Dowie remembers the advice well.

It was December, 2012 and days earlier he’d undergone surgery on his right knee,what was supposed to be a once-and-for-all solution to persistent pain.

Injuries had been a near-constanta theme for the key forward during his career, ever since he made his senior debut for Port Fairy aged 15. By going under the knife he hoped things would change.

But the diagnosis was worse than first thought. Surgeons had uncovered more damage. His knee had degenerated to the point that the best advice was to retire. Dowie was 26.

“They said you should think about retiring because of the wear and tear in the knee,” he said.

“I had one option, which is called a Synvisc injection. It’s an injection that acts as a lubricant for your knee.

“Some people’s bodies reject it and some people’s bodies take it. Luckily my body took it.”

Dowie at that stage had spent two seasons with Allansford –the club his father Charlie, who died when Dowie was three, had played at.

He had 2013 away from football and, wanting to play with mates, crossed to Merrivale for 2014. Come September he was a premiership player with 70 goals to his name.

Fast forward 10 months and Dowie, who turned 29 on Wednesday,has written the latest chapter in a career which has featured highs and lows in equal measure.

His 10thgoal against East Warrnambool at Merrivale Recreation Reserve on Saturday took his season tally to 100 after 14 rounds.He kicked four earlyand followed up with two in each quarter after the first break.

The milestone major, a set shot, sparked a ground invasion. After being swamped by his teammates, and then a host of juniors, the man of the moment managed a peck on the cheek from his partner Kristy Trotman.

“Today was the most games I’ve played in a row, I’ve played 14. I’m nearly as proud of that as kicking the 100 after the sort of career I’ve had,” hesaid.

Dowiebecomes the third player in four seasons to achieve the feat in the Warrnambool and District league.

Panmure pairGary Robinson (2012) and Chris Bant (2013) reached three figures during the Bulldogs’premiership years, but both took until round 18 to do so.

“It’s definitely something in a few years I’ll look back on and be pretty proud of,” said Dowie, whose haul against the Bombers represented the fifth time in double figures.

“But we’ve got a really good group of players within the club who are really determined. It’s a very team-first mentality, which is a brilliant thing to have.

“The most important thing about today was playing the same football we’ve been playing and not getting sucked into blazing away and everyone getting hungry.”

Dowie put his prolific goalkicking down to his teammates’ work up the field. Rhys Raymond and Joe Woonton have also played a role drawing defenders away from him.

But the biggest factor has been a greater fitness base. Dowie completed90 per cent of the Tigers’pre-season –the most he has managed in his career.

He stands at 190 centimetres and has trimmed down to 92 kilograms, 11 fewer than what he was on grand final day last season.

“Last year with having Karl (Dwyer) as our coach, he had a good understanding of what position I was in, he said ‘just manage your body’,” he said.

“Getting through last year was a good stepping stone to completing close to a full pre-season.

“Last year I was more of an anchor point in the goal square, that get-out-of-jail free kick. This year I’ve lost that weight, I can lead a bit more. That’s added another dimension to my game, being able to double back.”

The other positive influence has been the arrival of his first child. Dowie and Trotman welcomed Noah Charlie into the world on the eve of the season.

“Due to the injuries I’ve had, I’ve never been fully into football, I’ve had a lot of frustration,” he said.

“Having the young fella around has eased those frustrations a bit…you’ve definitely got something else to think about instead of getting frustrated about football.

“You’ve got a really good young fella and a really good partner at home, they’vebeen a big part of my year.”

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