Former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has suggested “forward thinking” by the Sydney Swans and the AFL could have prevented Lance Franklin being booed at the MCG.
In what may have been Franklin’s final game at the famous Melbourne venue, where he’s won two AFL grand finals and booted 340 goals, the champion forward was relentlessly booed by Collingwood supporters as the Swans met the Magpies on Sunday.
That a future “legend” of the Australian Football Hall of Fame was treated to such disrespect in the final season of his 19-year career left a sour taste in the mouths of many.
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On Nine’s Footy Classified on Monday night, host Craig Hutchison branded the booing of Franklin “abhorrent”, while panellist Caroline Wilson labelled it “disgusting”.
In McGuire’s mind, workshopping by the Swans and the AFL could have led to Franklin receiving a much warmer reception in what was potentially his MCG farewell.
“You don’t have to throw rose petals in front of Buddy Franklin on the weekend, but you don’t have to give it to him the way it was,” McGurie said on Nine’s Eddie and Jimmy podcast.
“It started early. It’s not like it built afterwards.
“I think we’ve got to find a way of not doing that.
“In hindsight … it would have been nice for the Swans, or even the AFL, to acknowledge this might have been one of his last games at the MCG.
“That way you can have your to-and-fro on the field, and then you line up and you pay homage to a champion of the game.
“I think that would have been good in front of 70,000, probably the biggest crowd the Swans will play in front of this year, to say goodbye, to show that generosity of spirit.
“That sort of forward thinking could have averted (the booing).”
Sydney, Collingwood and the AFL each released a statement condemning the booing of Franklin.
The Magpies’ statement, attributed to captain Darcy Moore, coach Craig McRae and chief executive Craig Kelly, apologised to the Swans and Franklin, and said the match “provided an opportunity to respect a champion of the game”.
”We fell short,” the Collingwood statement added.
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The Swans said they were “extremely disappointed” and called booing “offensive”.
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“We have been here before and sadly it seems some people have not learned from the past,” the Sydney statement added, alluding to the booing saga that bullied Adam Goodes into retirement in 2015.
As Franklin’s nine-year contract with the Swans neared its end last year, the four-time Coleman Medallist penned a new one-year deal in AFL grand final week.
“One more,” he wrote in a Michael Jordan-inspired statement, suggesting he will hang up his boots at the completion of the 2023 season.
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