Adam Goodes

A test of a sporting moment is whether you remember it. By that I mean you don’t half-remember it, but really remember it. Moments which you don’t have to go into the record books to check; moments where the details of time and place are superfluous. Moments so powerful they form the basis for your view, your understanding, your opinion.

I half-remember the earliest part of Adam Goodes career; those days over a decade ago when, as a skinny kid with a bit of potential, he roved around the ground looking like a footballer-athlete who might turn into a Koutoufides-type, but who might not. Prejudice suggested that, as a middle-of-the draft selection, he might be a middling player for a few years.

Not long after I remember being in the MCG press box when the whole room was watching Goodes (against Essendon at the SCG maybe?) on the TV, rather than focusing on the line and length stuff being served up in front of us. Old hands looking at each other going, “How’s this bloke?”

And then there’s stuff I really remember.

A couple of times, when the Lions were at the height of their powers, Adam Goodes led the Swans to unlikely victories over them. One I remember was a cracking match at the SCG when the wrought iron was nearly dislodged from its mountings such was the enthusiasm for the young man. I recall being in the grip of one of those matches. Could the underdog win? Could Goodes sustain the brilliance that had put them ahead? Surely Craig Bolton and Brett Kirk couldn’t stop the mighty Lions. They cleared the footy again (somehow) and it floated towards the wing. Pop! Goodes: shin on the shoulder, straight  up, to take a speccie, land on his feet and explode away. Magnificent.

And that was off the TV! Kim Johnston of the Aboriginal Studies Press which recently published Sean Gorman’s superb book Legends, a profile of each of the players in the Indigenous Team of the Century, says you don’t fully appreciate Adam Goodes unless you are at the ground. She’s right.

I remember Goodes and Max Rooke (two much-loved footballers) playing on each other at Geelong one sunny Saturday afternoon. Goodes the creator-defender. Rooke the defender-creator. Their athleticism, their physicality, and their skill, along with the intensity of their battle, drew the eye. It was as if they were the only two players on the ground. Although it defies the logic of the bean-counters, they were the best two players on the ground. I honestly can’t remember who won.

Goodes was named at centre half-back in that team of the century. But he could have been named in a few spots. Either of the key-forward positions. On a wing (love that!). In the ruck. Ruck-roving.

And my fondest memory of him: his goal to open the final quarter of the last quarter of the 2006 Grand Final. He burst out of the centre at full pace. I’ll never forget it because until he straightened he was running directly at me, looking at me, saying, “I’ll breathe a bit of life into this.”

Adam Goodes plays tonight against Hawthorn. He is one of the key factors in how the match will turn out. In fact, he’s probably the key factor: not bad when it’s your 300th.

What a player! The Adnyamathanha man from the Flinders Ranges. Who, as a young boy, served hot dogs at Elizabeth Oval while cheering for young Gilbert McAdam. The lad from Mildura, and then Horsham.

And now Sydney.

Champion footballer who has brought joy to so many, and will be remembered forever.


About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Has played brilliantly in many different positions.

    Ramrod straight back when running in full-flight.

    A Goodes piece JTH.

  2. You sound pretty Adamant about that PF.

  3. Apparently he’s good for another 5 years.

    You bloody ripper.

  4. JTH – fabulous player. Great description of him as the creator-defender.

    His best position is in the middle I reckon. Can cause enormous damage there.

  5. JTH

    That moment in the 2006 Grand Final is the one for me… and it was very much like he was saying “I’ll breathe a bit of life into this.”


  6. Good tribute John! Adam Goodes is a great player and a great role model as an Australian citizen. He is the equal with blokes such Gary Ablett jnr., Chris Judd, Lance Franklin, Matthew Scarlett, Simon Black, Matthew Pavlich and Jonathon Brown as the best players in the AFL.
    I first remember Goodes in an under 18’s grand final when he played well for the Ballarat team. I was later surprised that he was not selected higher in the draft. One of his better games was the 2005 grand final and an argument could be made that he was deserving of the Norm Smith medal.
    Well done on a great career!

  7. Love your work JTH.

    A great champion of the game A Goodes. Like Ricciuto and Peter Matera, would have a much bigger profile if he’d played at a Victorian club.

    I also remember the U18 GF when he kicked 6 from full-forward playing for North Ballarat. I too was surprised that he went in the middle of that draft. It would be fascinating to look at those that were drafted ahead of him.

    My favourite memory of him is, remarkably, off the field, when his warmth and love for his mum were so evident when he won his first Brownlow. I’d love to see him win a third in acouple of weeks, yes, even in front of Pendles !!

  8. That moment in the Grannie still resonates with me. Even as an Eagles supporter I couldn’t help but shake my head and marvel at his ability.

    I really liked it tonight when a clear mark was not paid to him and he simply handed the ball back to the umpire. No carrying on, no verbals, no remonstrating. No wonder he gets so many Brownlow votes.

  9. JTH, i’ like your thoughts on this-
    A Brownlow Tie, Goodes and Pendlebury?”

  10. darn, bloody typos, that should read,
    ‘id like your thoughts….’

  11. Goodes is one of the greats. Tonight you could almost understand Longmire’s coaching: start Goodes in the forward line and if it goes our way we have a a star to finish it off. However, after half time bring him into the game and he just might win it.

    And he almost did. Man, what are they going to do when he finally retires! Good on ya Goodes

  12. Richard Naco says

    One of the great pleasures that I, as a non Swannie, derived from going to see Sydney’s home games this year was the chance just to watch and marvel at Adam Goodes playing the game as it should be played. His engine is huge, his courage, flair and humility are unsurpassed, and it is breath taking to watch the amount of hard serious running and work he does away from the ball. (It must be even more breath taking for any taggers given the job on him!)

    In the endless debates about whether footballers should be role models, Goodes stands out for being precisely that. The game as a whole, and especially here in Sydney, is infinitely richer for him being at the very heart of both. A third Brownlow this year would be highly appropriate, as the quality and consistancy of his performances this year have even gone up a notch on what is a very very highly set bar.

  13. Great piece, John.
    Two things I like most about Goodes. One. He really seems like not just a champion player, but a champion bloke.
    Two, his loping run. He runs at rover pace with those big man, diesel engine strides.
    The Swans seem to play him everywhere at once, like the Roys did with Roos. Imagine him in an attacking team, like Geelong or Collingwood. My God.

  14. Mark Doyle – I’m glad you mentioned that Under 18s Grand Final performance because I saw it too and that for me was the most stunning performance by an under age player I’ve seen (and I’ve watched plenty of U/18 and U/19 finals). Goodes as I recall kicked 6 goals as a ruck rover/half forward and was quite simply the difference between the two sides. It staggered me that he was taken so low in the draft after a performance like that. I reckon the last 300 games have proved that that day wasn”t a fluke!

    Apart from all the above admiring comments, which I totally agree with, I also love Goodes condemnation of the lazy, stereotyping comments about indigenous footballers’ supposedly “magical”qualities. Sadly, even in these days where racism in football has been extensively stamped out, I still listen week after week to these stupid remarks (even on Friday night Bruce Macavaney was banging on about “Sydney not being the sort of team that does magic, well Goodes does magic, but…” – you get the picture). For all that it’s supposed to be complimentary, these comments are in fact patronising and, as Goodes rightly points out, imply that indigenous footballers achieve results through some special ability rather than damned hard work.

  15. Malcolm Ashwood says

    I too remember watching that under , 18s , GF and thinking this kid is a future star geez how dumb does every recruiter look now bieing picked so low . I totally agree he is a player you appreciate more live there was a game at footy park where every one was spellbound at how majestic he was and such a smooth mover
    A tru champion in every sense I loved it when he ha his mum at the brownlow
    Thanks Harmsy

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