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Jakovich backs Hogan to make mark

Marc McGowan  October 22, 2017 9:55 AM

I feel for young Jesse. I hope he runs out there and remembers his old man every time he does, and that will help

MELBOURNE icon Allen Jakovich wants heartbroken forward Jesse Hogan to embrace his late father's memory as he tries to move on from the toughest year of his life.

Hogan, 22, and Jakovich, 49, are contrasting personalities, but the two red-and-blue focal points – whose AFL careers started and ended almost two decades apart – share striking similarities.

Jakovich, like his fellow West Australian prodigy is now, was seen as a key piece in ending the Demons' infamous premiership drought that stretches to 1964.

But more tragically, they both lost their father to cancer as young men while they were chasing football dreams outside their home state.

Jakovich was only 20 and still kicking goals in Darwin when his dad, Darko, lost his short fight in 1988. He kept the tragedy largely a secret in his later AFL days.

Jakovich's mother, Mary, and younger brother, future West Coast defender Glen, were away from him in Western Australia at the time of Darko's death.

Hogan was barely 22 when cancer claimed his father Tony's life in April this year, with Melbourne granting the key forward leave to mourn with his family in Perth.

Doctors diagnosed Hogan with testicular cancer just one month later. He has since undergone surgery and returned to the football field, but Jakovich knows Hogan would still be hurting.

"I feel for young Jesse. I hope he runs out there and remembers his old man every time he does, and that will help," Jakovich told the Demonland.com Podcast.

"It's sort of cathartic. (My coping mechanism) was wearing a black armband just randomly sometimes. I had to fib about it and say an old mate in Darwin or South Australia (had died), but it wasn't – it was for my dad.

"That helped me get through that. I just hope Jesse has got a lot of support there, even if he's got to jump on the plane every now and then … I found that helped, too.

"When I could, I'd get back to Perth and surprise mum and sometimes not tell her and just rock in through the door and spend the weekend. I think your family is the best thing you need at times like that, that's the most important."

One of the most memorable moments in Jakovich's colourful on-field career at the Demons involved him playfully kissing his brother Glen during a clash with the Eagles in 1993.

Jakovich added a little-known ending to the story in the two-hour midweek interview that highlighted the impact their father's death had on the family.

Their mother was in the crowd that day at the MCG and they later all piled into Jakovich's car bound for his Williamstown home.

The laughs about the kissing incident had subsided, and Jakovich wondered why everyone had gone silent, only to turn and see both Glen and Mary in tears.

"I think we all thought about dad at that time, and I looked in the rearview mirror and there was Glen balling his eyes out and not another word was said for that last 3 or 4km," Jakovich said.

"We all had tears rolling down our face and what a great day, and that's how that day finished for us.

"We went back to my house and continued to have a bit of a laugh about the day and didn’t say too much as far as what the tears were all about – but we all knew it was for dad."

Jakovich was hopeful Melbourne could keep Hogan for the long term, believing the 2015 NAB AFL Rising Star winner could lead the Demons to the promised land.

"I hope Jesse doesn't end up going back (to Western Australia) permanently, like I've heard a few stories," he said.

"I hope Melbourne can retain him for a long time, because he's going to be pivotal to their success for years to come.

"I just hope he has that good support around him and he can get through that."