I had a conversation with a colleague yesterday about the news Adam Goodes had announced his retirement for football. The response I received when I brought up the topic baffled and angered me.
“Oh isn’t he the guy that gets booed all the time?”
Well, sadly yes he has been, but seriously, that’s all you have when I mention the name Adam Goodes.
It’s a sad indictment on parts of our society and what has been happening at Swans games particularly this season, that one of the greatest players to ever pull on the red and white of the Swans is associated with booing.
I know you’re only as good as your last game or your last season, but surely what has been dealt out by some opposition crowds this year, will be smaller than a blackhead on the career of Adam Goodes.
A career which began with three successive losses in 1999, would last a further 369 matches. Only the second Swans player – Sydney or South Melbourne – to play 300 games, joining his close mate Mick O’Loughlin in passing the milestone, and his final mark of 372 may never be beaten.
Toss in two premiership medallions from four grand finals, 464 goals, and two Brownlow Medals, amazingly one as ruckman in 2003 and the other when playing as a midfielder in 2006, and of course a Rising Star medal.
Four times All-Australian, a member of the Indigenous Team of the Century, three-time winner of the Swans’ best and fairest, the Bob Skilton Medal, captain of the Swans for four seasons, the most games ever played by an indigenous player, and, just for good measure, Australian of the Year in 2014 for his work in the community.
But, yeah, you go on and remember him as the guy everyone was booing, whether it be for his supposed staging for free kicks, or because of racism.
Or perhaps remember the night he called out a fan – a teenage girl – for calling him an ape.
Choose what you like, but having spent many seasons covering the Swans, the Adam Goodes I choose to remember will be the one who, during the middle of the first decade of this century, would duel head to head with another of the game’s superstars, then West Coast midfielder Chris Judd.
Two totally different players, but when their coaches made the decision to put them on each other, it resulted in a thrilling contest within a contest, and made for riveting viewing.
Sometimes Judd would get the verdict, other times it would be Goodes, but it was always enthralling and both players conceded they too enjoyed the contest.
Watching Goodes arch his back, and at full speed power away from the chasers, then deliver a pin-point pass or slot a major, that’s what I’ll remember.
Adam Goodes has been a teammate of many of the best players to don the red and white. Legends, stars, icons of the club – Tony Lockett, O’Loughlin, Paul Kelly, Barry Hall, Brett Kirk and Jude Bolton, and more recently Buddy Franklin – to name a mere handful. And Goodesy sits right up there with them, if not, a fraction above.
“I think he goes down as probably our greatest Swan,” said O’Loughlin.
“That’s no disrespect to anyone who has played for us before but I think the influence, and the winning percentage games that he has been able to play… for the longevity. Your superstars play for a long time and he’s absolutely one of those without a question.”
Sentiments echoed by his now former coach John Longmire.
“We’ve had a few great players over the last few years retire – none as great as Goodesy, no disrespect to the others.”
Perhaps the one shame was that while he is receiving the accolades now, he should have been given a better send off. It’s been mentioned that the drama of the past year or so led Goodes to steer clear of making a public announcement and instead make the call in the sheds after what was now his last game.
He deserves much better. He should have been chaired from the ground, and cheered with gusto by every fan at the stadium, and every AFL fan in the country regardless of who you support, for what he has brought to the game over the past 18 seasons.
Adam Goodes? No, he’s far better than good, he was Adam Great.