Buddy: A New Frontier

The Sydney Swans are not used to celebrity status. They are not used to front page headlines. Through signing Buddy Franklin back in November, the club now has to deal with these on a weekly basis. As a Swans member, my head has been spinning since the day that the Giants decided they would announce that Buddy was indeed coming to the Swans. The Swans bravely entered a new frontier with the much publicised 9-year, $10 million deal that caused the collective football media to go into absolute meltdown. Confusion reigned as the news broke, the football media machine went into overdrive, yet nobody could figure out ‘what on earth has happened here’. I personally believe that this was an expertly orchestrated recruiting coup, the likes of which have never been seen before in our game. From the time the news broke, Buddy, and the Swans were in the gun and rightly so. This was a mammoth deal that any player would happily snap up. The jury is still out as to whether it was the right move or not, but as negativity has been the overriding response, here are some of my thoughts as to why it most certainly was the right move.

I am focusing on the positive aspects of this deal as I am sick and tired of reading or hearing about reasons why this deal is doomed. Buddy Franklin is a superstar of the highest order. With the possible exception of Gary Ablett Jnr, there is no bigger name in the AFL. A player of Buddy’s talent comes along once in a generation, if that. For the previous nine seasons, footy fans all over the country have marvelled at his outrageous blend of skill, pace, power and agility. Never before has a man of key-forward stature moved like him. Never before have we seen an athlete with such footballing gifts. I accept that he divides opinion. But why is this? Is it because of his confidence, or because he likes the spotlight? Is it because he can do things that the rest of us can only dream about? From all reports he was very popular at Hawthorn, and I know that he is very popular at Sydney. His on field form will only improve as he gets used to new teammates and vice versa. His form will also improve with the inclusion of messieurs Tippett, Goodes and Reid.

Buddy actually wanted to come to the Swans. If anybody can name me one club that would not do their utmost to sign him when he has approached their club stating his want to play for them, I’d like to know. I appreciate that the amount of money and the length of contract have upset some people. It is a risk, there is no doubt about that. But the Sydney Swans have proven over time to be a club that makes good decisions, simple as that. Seventeen other clubs had the opportunity to offer him a contract as he was a free agent. The Swans would certainly have calculated player payments and possible player movement into the equation and decided that they could make it work. For all the rumour and innuendo about unhappy players, who will apparently want to leave, we have only lost Shane Mumford from our best twenty-two. Mumford was also handsomely remunerated to move on. At this point in time, I have only seen players lining up to re-sign and stay on at the club.

Club membership is already at a record high for this season. For a club that generally struggled to reach the 30,000 mark until recently, the target of 40,000 members will be achieved this year. The new recruit has no doubt played a big hand in this being the case. Excitement builds in Sydney only when the Swans are winning and the SCG fills up. Buddy provides the big ticket item that the Swans will potentially always need in a ridiculously competitive market in a city where supporters of all codes are increasingly staying at home to watch their sport. Sure, Buddy has brought an unprecedented amount of headlines to the club this season, but as they say in the classics, ‘any publicity is good publicity’. The Sydney  market demands big names with a big profile. Whilst the Swans now have a strong membership base and regular die hard fans, I believe they will never feel comfortable in this market purely due to the nature of the Sydney based sports fan. No town loves a winner more.

I acknowledge that as a Swans member, I have a vested interest in this deal being successful. But, to be perfectly honest, I like the guy and I can only see positives in this long term investment in one of the greatest entertaining players that we will ever witness. Negativity will always dominate news headlines, but if you look through that, you might just see a positive outcome. If anybody out there says that they would not like to see him in their colours, I would be very surprised. Welcome to the Swans, Buddy. I look forward to cheer, cheering you on for the next nine years.

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. Keiran Croker says

    I can only agree Joe. You are way to rational. I suspect that other teams fans are happy for the Swans to be the underdogs and their favourite second team. Recruiting Tippett and Franklin has changed that. I am happy that some now hate us and are wanting failure. This will only make success much sweeter!

  2. craig dodson says

    Good analysis Joe. That being said, as a long time Swans man I still feel uneasy about it though. Your point about the club having a good record making decisions is spot on and I trust they have done all the due dilligence and made the right call on Buddy.

    For what it is worth I think the biggest impact has been the loss of Mumford. This has made Pyke shoulder most of the ruck and is not able to pinch hit in the forward line and kick goals like previous years. I think the loss of a good ruckman may hurt us in September. Hopefully balanced out by Buddy’s contribution.

    The 2012 Grand final was such a great expereince given it was achieved against all the odds. Recycled players and stalwarts getting us over the line.

    The signing of Tippett and Buddy has definately re positioned the Swans.

    Lets keep our fingers crossed and time will be the judge…

  3. Well said Joe, and yes he is a superstar and will win you lots of games. But haven’t you have failed to address the biggest issue of all – why the hell would you offer a 27 y/o CHF a nine-year contract? Why not 5 or 6 or even 8? If he hand-picked the Swans as his club of choice then why such an extravagant deal? I’m still yet to hear an explanation for this from any of the Swans’ heirachy. WHY NINE?

  4. Joe Moore says

    Thanks Kieran, Craig and Magnets. The jury is certainly still out on this one, but i’m confident. Magnets, as far as I know, the nine-years came into play so that Hawthorn could not match the offer. GWS and the Hawks could have matched the amount of dollars, but not the length of the contract. That is the only reason I can see for the nine-year deal. He was 26 when he signed, meaning he will be 35-36 when the deal ends. As we have seen just last week, we currently have a 34 year-old on our books who looks as though he will still be around when he hits the age of 36, so it is possible. I don’t see the length of the deal as really being an issue as 1mil per season may not seem like a huge amount in 2022. Salary caps will increase, TV rights deals will increase and I envisage that he will not even be our highest payed player towards the end of his career.

  5. Joe, he may well have been 26 when he signed but he turned 27 in January, and will be a 27 y/o player this year. Fair point re out-bidding rivals, but wouldn’t 7 years do the trick? Especially when he wanted to be a swan all along.
    Goodes is a 34 year-old freak athlete with a tremendous record of longevity and resilience, but even he has just taken 10 months to recover from a knee injury. And Buddy has dodgy knees!
    $1mil may not be a significant amount in 2022 if he is still playing (although with the back-ended deal it’s more likely to be $1.5m), but it’s money down the drain if he aint! The AFL only signed off on it under the strict condition that the money was part of the cap even if he retired/broke down. This is the risk.

  6. Joe Moore says

    Some good points there, Magnets. There are certainly risks involved, but as I stated in the original post, I wanted to focus on the positives of the deal as all I have heard are the negatives. Time will tell as to whether or not this deal is successful, but I commend and applaud the club for being ambitious and being prepared to take risks in such a stagnant, low-risk, ‘play the percentages’ football industry. I guess we all have nine years to work it all out.

  7. Carn the Swans says

    If I am not a Swannie and the Swans sign an old man with dodgy knees to a 9-year contract, I shall buy myself some champagne to celebrate the self-destruction of a consistently tough opponent, and the opportunity for my mediocre team to move up the ladder at their expense.

    Or if I am simply consumed by envy and jealousy, because Buddy chose not to join my mediocre club, I shall squeal all the way way to my grave.

    And these people have the audacity to criticise Eddie Everywhere when in fact you are all riding the same HYPOCRITE bus.


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