In my five-plus years writing for The Roar, I’ve never deliberately revealed my footballing allegiances on this forum. Until now; I’m a massive Swans fan.
Much has been made of the decision by the Sydney Swans to recruit former Hawthorn star Lance “Buddy” Franklin on a nine-year, $10 million deal to come to the harbour city.
We all thought for a while that Franklin was headed to emerging AFL team and cellar dwellars, the GWS Giants.
He would’ve been a godsend to that club and could’ve potentially – and I emphasise the word ‘potentially’ – had the same effect that Gary Ablett Jr has had at the Gold Coast Suns.
While Ablett will go down as one the Geelong greats, surely in the annals of AFL expansion history he will be viewed as a leader of men, someone who made a difference in every single facet of the the club, both on and off the field.
But let us get back to Buddy, and the reasons why I believe that the move to Sydney is a positive thing.
Firstly, the Swans have a history of of recruiting big names from other clubs and turning them into legends.
Tony Lockett revolutionised the following of the Swans in the harbour city.
Paul Roos’ 87 games for Sydney after his 270-odd for Fitzroy turned him into a long-term Sydney legend and one of their greatest coaches.
Spida Everitt and Barry Hall are two more names that come to mind. Sydney offered a fresh start and a chance to revitalise their careers.
It may be idealistic, but it is genuinely feasible that Buddy Franklin will follow suit and become a leader in this team.
Secondly, the Swans have this knack of converting talent from all sorts of places and instilling them with the culture of ‘The Bloods’.
A never give-up belief. A belief in turning players from all corners of the globe into AFL stars.
Tadhg Kennelly. Kieren Jack. Mike Pyke.
After two premierships with the Hawks, Buddy may need a new challenge and this is something that the Swans will provide.
Thirdly, think whatever you may of Buddy Franklin off the field or on the field, but the sheer possibility of watching he and Adam Goodes play together is worth the price of admission alone.
Goodesy is possibly the finest Indigenous player to have played the game and certainly its finest ambassador. Franklin could learn a lot from him to take through his remaining years at Sydney.
Also, Sydney is away from the media glare of AFL-obsessed Melbourne – something that has proven to be popular with many of the recruits over the years.
Sydney and all its NRL craziness means the Swans can often escape the spotlight. Even with the addition of the GWS Giants, it’s still a relatively one-sided ledger when it comes to media coverage.
Finally? It’s a win for the AFL. If the AFL is keen to further their push into the Sydney market and move in on NRL territory, having the Swans gain the game’s most magnetic individual is the best step possible.
Time will tell what becomes of the Buddy buy for the Sydney Swans, but one thing is for sure – it is one of the biggest gambles in the history of the sport, particularly for Sydney, to sign a long-term deal of this ilk.
Let’s hope both parties live up to their end of the bargain.