Adam Goodes’ absence from Grand Final day is a crying shame
Date: September 25, 2015 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell
Throw in two premierships; three club best-and-fairest awards; four All-Australian jumpers; three times his club’s leading goal kicker; a Rising Star award; and selection in the Indigenous Team of the Century and you have a career that is right up there with the very best in the history of the AFL.
And yet, Adam Goodes, the man who compiled this CV over a 17-year career with the Sydney Swans, will not be driven around the MCG on Saturday week as one of the main precursors to the grand final.
The motorcade on grand final day recognizes players who have compiled significant playing records and who have announced their retirement since last year’s season finale.
This year the likes of 400-gamer Dustin Fletcher, 300-gamer Kane Cornes, triple premiership star Paul Chapman and Chris Judd – like Goodes, a dual Brownlow medallist – will receive the plaudits of a 100,000-strong crowd.
It will be a fitting farewell for all those who have earned the right to be saluted on the biggest stage the sport has.
Sadly, Goodes will not be among them.
And that is a great shame.
In fact, it is a blight on the game.
Hundreds of minutes of analysis and talkback in the electronic media and myriad column centimetres in the press have been dedicated to the Goodes saga this year.
The reasons given by fans for booing Goodes have been varied – he is a dirty player; he is a sook; he should not have called out a young girl you directed a racial slur at him; his indigenous war dance towards opposing fans was inflammatory; and I simply do not like him.
Those in the camp who believed Goodes was being unfairly targeted put forward their own theory – racism.
Sadly, despite repeated pleas for a cessation of ‘hostilities’ from AFL and club administrators, coaches and players, Goodes remained a constant target of crowd booing, and at times, racist taunts.
Even after he took time away from the game as a result of the impact the affair was having on him he was still targeted.
Essendon great Tim Watson has gone on record as saying that he believed Goodes would be booed should he be driven around the MCG.
Goodes clearly holds that belief as well.
Players who are heroes when at their club of origin are often booed when they return to their former home bedecked in another team’s colours.
Often such acts are more pantomime than vitriol.
Once they have retired the fact they swapped clubs mid-career is largely forgotten.
They certainly do not get booed by fans when they perform a celebratory lap on grand final day.
And then there are the umpires.
Of all those who take to the field on match days few are targeted more than the umps.
They are jeered and booed and have all manner of invective directed at them.
Yet, when they are honoured on grand final day the mouths are mute but the hands are clapping.
Last season 341-game veteran Stuart Wenn was accorded a place in the grand final day motorcade, as have numerous umpires in recent times who have drawn the curtain on careers of great longevity.
The hoots and jeers that rung in Wenn’s ears when he ran around the ‘G’ in his umpiring days were nowhere to be heard on his lap of honour.
Yet, had Adam Goodes chosen to accept the AFL’s honour of a grand send-off there would no doubt be those in the crowd who would find it appropriate to boo him.
On the eve of the round 18 Sydney-Adelaide game, which Goodes opted not to play, Fremantle coach Ross Lyon labelled anyone who would continue to boo the dual-Brownlow medallist upon his return “a racist and a bigot”.
Six weeks later, when Goodes was due to line up in the qualifying final against the Dockers at Subiaco Oval, Lyon repeated his stance.
Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich appeared in a pre-recorded piece on the big screens at the ground in which he talked about fan behaviour ahead of the match.
And as soon as Goodes went near the ball he was booed, just as had by fans of other clubs.
In his 372nd, and as it turned out, final game against North Melbourne last weekend he was again booed.
While teammate Rhyce Shaw was chaired off the ground having previously announced his retirement, Goodes merely slipped down the players’ race.
A short time afterwards he addressed his teammates and announced his retirement – no fuss, no fanfare.
Sadly, there will also be no fanfare on grand final day.
It is one of the more unfortunate events to have beset the league in recent years.
Hopefully those who persisted in their attack on Goodes will reflect on their actions and we shall never see such a character assassination occur in the future, but then again …
First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 24 September 2015