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Adam Goodes: Our Graceful Swan

Goodes is as graceful as any player of his era. Deceptively quick with his high-stepping gait, he boasts superb aerial and ground skills, elusiveness, dual-sidedness and supreme finishing ability. An all-purpose player, Goodes is one of the most difficult to counter – The Brownlow: A Tribute to the Greats of Australian Football.


Dual Brownlow Medalist, dual premiership player, four-time All-Australian, Indigenous Team of the Century member and the all-time Sydney Swans and Indigenous games record holder. That is how Adam Goodes, footballer, should be remembered. Sadly, at this point in time, this is not the case.


In the Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round of 2013, Adam Goodes’ career changed forever. Because he made a stand against racism. A stance of incredible bravery. During the biggest match of an enormously significant round of football, he was racially vilified and he called it out. A thirteen-year-old girl was evicted from the MCG as a result. Her age and gender is quite simply in this case, irrelevant. Racism has no place. However, a grotesque mob mentality developed and they decided Goodes was somehow in the wrong.


The very next day, he clearly expressed his message of sympathy and support to that girl. 28 times in one press conference. The situation escalated dramatically though, in the following week when certain high-profile media identities began their own sordid backlash towards him. When the loathsome shock-jock squad captured the narrative, it ensured that this would continue until the day Goodes retired. And beyond.


The following year, Adam Goodes was presented as the Australian of the Year. As a proud Indigenous man, he now had a platform to encourage conversation and to embolden his people who had been grossly mistreated for centuries. He subsequently dared to voice his opinion on a matter that he is so rightly passionate about. This issue makes many uncomfortable, and it should. A large portion of Australians felt and still feel challenged by his views, resulting in a refusal to face up to the issue at hand. This issue is racism and keeping heads in the sand only exacerbates the problem. Shouldn’t we all be striving for equality and equity?


The 2014 Grand Final is a day that many of us identify with, for a range of unwelcome reasons. My everlasting memory is of our Australian of the Year attracting the most abhorrent of abuse. That day cemented the power of work necessary to forge ahead. Can we ever become comfortable being uncomfortable?


When the events reached crisis point in 2015, our community connected to honour a great Australian. As our Swans faced the Crows, with Goodesy absent, it occurred to me before the match that that we had already won. The response from the Red & White faithful was immense. For the first time that I can remember, the result was completely irrelevant. We made a stand. A stand that transcended football, and it was beautiful. Pre-game feelings of restlessness and emptiness dissipated with a single scan of the SCG stands –  a sumptuous sight and emotions were running high. I’ve never been prouder to be a Swan.


We only saw Adam Goodes play seven more times. Seven more times he was booed.


The Final Quarter holds a mirror to Australian society’s standout shortcoming. As Swans supporters, none of what we saw is breaking new ground. We’re well versed in these events. What we did see however, was a heart achingly painful reminder of how one of our champions, who gave us so much joy, received so much vitriol. This film was made entirely on archival footage. Everything in it, is factual. Astoundingly, it all happened. Goodes’ message throughout was consistent – instead of fearing the unknown, embrace it and discuss it.


Feelings of uneasy anticipation were again present last night. How would this documentary be received? The director, Ian Darling wanted the film to promote conversation – a new conversation. This is where our sense of hope must live. We all surely dream of a nation in which our children and their children can live devoid of discrimination. Regrettably, we won’t endure to see that. We can only hope that if we follow the lead of Adam Goodes, we can contribute to a brighter future.


As part of a school community, I can’t help but imagine the educational possibilities here. No child is born with racism on the mind. This is a learned behaviour. This is a product of environment. The film presents an unmissable opportunity to discuss what racism means in Australia. Conversation, education and explanation form the key components of our way forward together.


No person, of any age, of any gender has the right to discriminate, despite the cost of your ticket. As a sporting code, Australian Football failed to take a stance. Australian Football failed. One of our all-time greats was, and continues to be, subjected to treatment that can only be described as heinous. I will be among the many thousands who today will be holding our breath. Painstakingly waiting for footy’s and society’s response.


It saddens us, that a man who shows exemplary respect and understanding of others, does not have those same qualities reciprocated. Beyond the footballer here, is a man who displays outstanding individual qualities on a daily basis. I’m certain that I’m not the only Blood to have shed a tear for our man last night.


I respect no footballer more than Adam Goodes. A man of obvious grace and dignity, his approach to such adversity is an inspiration to many. Myself included. He will prove to stand proudly on the right side of history and we are all so very fortunate to have witnessed such incredible fortitude and courage. We now need to take our inspiration and live it. We can all make a difference and the time to make a stand is now.


This is our opportunity to fly. To fly alongside our graceful Swan.


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Joe Moore

Learned the art of the drop-punt from Derek Kickett as Jamie Lawson watched on. And thus, a Swan for life. @joedmoore1979


  1. Thanks, Joe.
    To read this piece after watching the doco last night is to continue to experience a range of emotions.

  2. E.regnans says

    Thanks Joe.
    So many of us saw it happening – and felt powerless to stop it.
    Analogies abound.

    Perhaps the best I can do here is leave a link to the text of Martin Flanagan’s oration: “Sport& Politics: the Adam Goodes case reconsidered one year on.” From 2016.

  3. Braham Dabscheck says

    Well done Joe.

  4. Still the tears flow, Joe. And while reading your wonderful piece. As I wrote back in 2015: May Adam Goodes stand proud. May he continue to enlighten and inspire us all – black and white – and may his name nobly stand along his predecessors who have fought and struggled to make a difference.

    Cheer cheer

  5. Keiran Croker says

    Excellent article Joe and I concur wholeheartedly. I’ll wait to hear the responses of the naysayers… I’m not that confident that as a community we have moved forward.

    I am in awe of what Adam does in the community. He is a person to be respected and admired not the opposite.

  6. Joe Moore says

    Thanks guys.

    Here’s hoping this improves us all.

  7. Dave Brown says

    Well said Joe, I concur wholeheartedly.

    Watching the documentary last night, the oddest feeling was having lived through it all: watching the Indigenous Round game that started it; seeing the press conferences; watching the episode of Marngrook and seeing the hurt in the panellists’ eyes; watching the Swans v Crows game and praying that my team’s supporters would do the right thing; right up to Adam’s last game in an incredibly storied career ending like the snuffing of a candle.

    It is shameful the way we treated him and all the worse because we know/knew better. Goodes speaks with intelligence and compassion and gets Murdoch’s shrieking demons in response, cheerleading the bitter and disaffected with a smirk.

    I hope this documentary leads a few more to watch, listen. I will be recommending it to anyone who wants to better understand Australia.

  8. Garry Rice says

    I would like to draw your attention to what was to me a more disturbing aspect of the documentary. Did anyone else notice the mean spirited and acerbic faces of the more strident commentators as they spewed forth their vitriol.I suspect that some of it was theatre as they have to justify their lucrative contracts, but I asked myself what percentage of the population rely on these trash peddlers to form/inform their own opinions? And then there was the blokey ignorance of those others in the documentary, who think that because they have played the game at any level, they can proffer a credible opinion based on half truths or something they read in a history book at school. The Haka’s OK, but not a ceremonial dance on indigenous weekend. I wonder whether some of these so-called experts are now embarrassed by their pandering to the perpetrators and victim blaming.Thankfully these comments were effectively counter-balanced by the likes of Pickering and Robinson. Adam Goodes is a legend, not just because of his community work, his undoubted football talent, or the fact that he stood alone amid the relentless barbaric bullying he endured for so long, but because he had the moral fortitude to stand against what is a blight on our community and our game. In my opinion, the AFL, the Players’Association and his club, should have threatened to withdraw their product and their labour, until the bullying ceased. But no, Adam was left hanging like a kite in a hurricane. It’s everyone’s shame.

  9. Joe Moore says

    Cheers Dave. Shameful indeed. I think we all have a role to play now in shaping a better future for us all.

    Agreed Garry, that ‘blokey ignorance’ was a disgrace. Things need to change, we need much more diversity in the mainstream media before anything will actually change.

  10. Trevor Blainey says

    at one point there’s a cut to a footy panel on Fox of 4 white blokes all doing the ‘tut, tut, tut’. ‘Nah i didn’t like it’ says one. Not one of them ever will have felt what bigotry feels like. I know I haven’t. Adam’s ‘crime’ was to say ‘enough is enough’. Their’s was to try to shove him back in his place. As though they knew where or what that is. Or understood that his place was/is exactly where he chose to stand. Reconciliation seems a long way off sadly. Bravo to Adam. A hearty boo to his detractors.

  11. Regardless of race his treatment was appalling. He spoke gently with respect a commendable person..

    Personally I loved the war dance it was powerful and compelling.

  12. Garry Rice says

    I watched the documentary again last night, and I gained two new insights. The first was that, racism aside, I can’t get my head around how supposedly intelligent people believe that because someone disagrees with them or upsets a few people, then logically that person must be punished and that the logical and appropriate punishment somewhere between stocks in the main street and execution is being verbally abused in the workplace, with no concern of what this is doing to not only that person, but almost everyone involved in that workplace and its reputation at large. I watched the the 2014 Grand Final, as I do every year on TV, and until I saw the documentary I was unaware of the extent of the verbal abuse. I always thought that one team did not turn up to play that day, but now I can only begin to understand the angst, sadness and guilt those Swans players must have felt when the talisman of their club was abused by supporters of every club every time he went near the ball. I am thinking that in different circumstances, regardless of the result, that game may have been the type of spectacle we saw in 1012 between these two great teams. The second standout point to me last night was the woefully insipid and inadequate response from the AFL. “We’ve got the best supporters in the world”indeed! The undertone here was: Of course we make this comment only about the good ones. Those bigots that abused and bullied one our own so that he felt compelled to leave our workplace prematurely, well they were being naughty. A huge sigh must have gone up in AFL house when Adam left, because they could handle racism in footy with comments like the above but they could not even begin to get a handle on the workplace bullying of one of their own employees.

  13. Joe Moore says

    To be honest Garry, my love for the game has lessened since 2015. My love for my club though has increased. I read and listen to Swans content, but barely even watch other games and certainly never tune in to any of the football shows. The ‘boys club’ mentality is something I feel my life is better off without. The AFL itself appear to promote these attitudes rather try and break them down. I applaud Adam for leaving that all behind and moving on to greener pastures.

  14. Garry Rice says

    Just read Caroline Wilson’s piece on The Fourth Quarter in the Saturday Age. This journalist is so honest and forthright and her opinion is always factually based. She is a national treasure.

  15. Garry Rice says

    Hey Joe, I can’t help thinking about, and being a little saddened by your response to my last despatch, because all the commentary, the footy shows, the AFL administration and even the stuff I am writing now, is just external noise. The game is bigger than all of it. Every year I cannot wait to be entertained by the likes of Dusty, Danger, Bont and Cripps plying their trade and exhibiting their sublime skills, my favourite being the one-on-one or one-on-two contested mark, of which co-incidentally Goodes was a master. Oftentimes (only sometimes, mind you, if your own team is playing) the winning and the score are subservient to the spectacle itself. When something abhorrent like the Goodes saga emerges, I always console myself with the thought that whoever’s to blame it aint the game.

  16. Michael Viljoen says

    From Garry’s post,
    “I can’t get my head around how supposedly intelligent people [RA?] believe that because someone disagrees with them or upsets a few people, then logically that person must be punished and that the logical and appropriate punishment somewhere between stocks in the main street and execution …”

    There is someone currently being punished worse than Goodes – Wallabies full back, Israel Folau.

    I don’t really want to divert anything away from Goodes, but looking at an wider view, I think Australians could improve greatly in their ability to talk through a difficult issue.

  17. Punxsa-and-the-rest-of-it Pete says

    Michael, I actually agree with you. Falou is also a victim. The opiates of a primitive belief system have rotted him into a hate speaker. It’s not Falou who should have been sacked, it’s the Bible from our society.

  18. Michael Viljoen says

    What might Adam Goodes say to Rugby Australia? (Reference to his comments after the Sydney – Carlton game, May 2015.)

    “The lesson we want to teach our children, that when we don’t understand something, we get angry, we put our back up against the wall. ‘Oh, that’s offensive!’ No, if it’s something we don’t understand, let’s have a conversation, understand, well, what was [Goodsey doing]?”
    Replace the words in brackets with [Izzy saying].

  19. Michael Viljoen says

    The ‘The Final Quarter’ was good in documenting the whole Goodes affair, and showing that Goodes was innocent of any wrong doing, and consequently how harshly and mercilessly he has been treated by many. It showed how the vitriol was far beyond what any person should have to endure, let alone the injustice of it being directed against someone who has given so much to the sport.

    However, the film wasn’t all that great at investigating the question, why were people booing?

    Here’s my theory:
    A 13-year-old girl was thrown out of a game for saying a taboo word (why that word should be taboo is also a relevant question.) Recently, one of the best rugby players in the game was thrown out of the sport entirely for saying a few taboo words. It seems to me that ordinary people are getting tired of the ‘higher ups’ telling us what to say, what to think, how to dress, how to walk, etc. And people are wanting to reclaim that ability for themselves. Here’s a guy who’s lauded by being called ‘Australian of Year’, for showing us all what to say, how to say it, what to think, how to dress, how to walk, etc. This is why he becomes a target for the ugly backlash. Race is part of it; it’s an issue, but it’s not the whole issue.

    This is in no way meant to be a criticism of Goodes, who I believe has always been a perfect gentleman and true sportsman his whole career, 372 games, on and off the field, and I would quickly and proudly staple the number 37 to any sports uniform I was ever able to wear.

    So while I don’t love everything Sam Newman has ever said, and I don’t think what he said was helpful in the Goodes affair, I know why people love him. It’s because Newman always says what he thinks. Maybe he speaks before he thinks, but that is just the point. People do not respond well when being told what they’re allowed to say or to think, especially at the footy, where they’ve come to relax and get away from life’s heavier demands.

    It was a recipe for a poisoned cocktail, guaranteed to bring the worst out of people.

    So this is my theory (just a thought, if I’m allowed). When those privileged few in the media and the intelligentsia tell us to stop booing Goodes, it’s easy to predict what will happen. It’s not rocket science. How we get ourselves out of this mess is a trickier question. This documentary was helpful and revealing from certain angles, but there was more non-race related ground that needed to be covered.

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