Tom Papley recently announced his desire to remain a Swan until at least 2023, turning his back on a return home to Victoria.
There are two words that discourage any football club this time of year: mathematically impossible. And as the Swans edge closer to this point of no return, I have begun to reflect on some of the biggest takeaways from the 2019 season.
Arguably one of the most discouraging stories to come out of the first half of the season are the rumours about the Swans looking to offload Lance Franklin in the hope of rebuilding the club. Although I do not hold these rumours with any legitimacy, it made me reminisce on how Buddy has changed the club since joining at the start of the 2014 season.
Instantly the overall success of the club is a highlight for me, with the Swans making finals every year since his arrival along with two grand finals in that time. It is truly a great time to be a Swans fan. Not only have the wins been a triumph, but increased memberships and profit for the club have really made the Swans a powerhouse in the competition and make attending the matches at the SCG a real spectacle.
Franklin’s personal achievements are also not to be missed, with Buddy averaging over three goals a game during his time at the Swans, winning four All Australian nominations and two Coleman Medals and well and entering himself into the discussion of greatest forwards to play the game. The ten goals against Carlton to conclude the 2017 home-and-away season or the 70-metre bomb against Port Adelaide in 2014 are personal highlights for me that I still vividly remember witnessing.
However, Buddy’s effect with football off the field is hard to really appreciate from the outer. During my work at schools and development programs across Sydney I have been asked the same question by countless numbers of children. Do you know Buddy?
The fact is that during his time at Hawthorn he could be viewed as the face of the Hawks or the face of the key forwards in the AFL, but when he came to Sydney he became the face of football in New South Walkes. Franklin is by far the most well-known athlete in the state and this cannot be underestimated. Kids in a state where AFL is still a code having to battle rugby league, rugby union and soccer for participation over the winter are still able to recognise Buddy as a dominant force in the sport.
My personal belief is that Franklin’s full impact outside of football will only come into play once this new generation begins to enter the league.
It may have been a completely different story if he had stayed with the Hawks or gone to the Giants, but football in the state of New South Wales is in a better place thanks to Buddy Franklin.
If the rumours come to fruition, then I’m happy with the direction football in the state of New South Wales is going.