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Winter is made up of fireplaces and footy, usually at the same time. There is a relationship between a roaring hearth and the Australian game that just feels natural.

It’s in front of this described fireplace that I spend Friday night. I’m watching Hawthorn, a champion team, play Sydney, a team of champions. Or more specifically, a team of a champion.


Lance Franklin is 198 centimetres of brute force, yet for a power forward he possesses a certain elegance that not many other 102 kilogram beasts can call upon. In his 2008 season, I saw Buddy with seven year-old eyes kick the ton. Watching highlights of the man during that wonderful season, I’m reminded of a gazelle; Buddy’s run is boundless and a joy to watch as he flies across the turf. Buddy’s feet never are seen to touch the ground when he runs. It’s a Richo-esque capability that turns heads and enthrals crowds.

I’m watching the footy tonight because of Buddy. His battle with Tiger Alex Rance a week ago was an epic duet between two elite athletes not giving an inch. It was poetic, a battle of two icons on the world’s biggest stage, where all were watching. There even was a dramatic climax, a flamboyant end to a flamboyant game.

The pair were given an entire 50 metres to tango in. Buddy ran, led, pushed and pulled. Rance shoved, blocked, spoiled and tackled. Rance’s team won the game. Buddy almost won it for his.

Buddy kicked five goals. If he played on any other player in the AFL, let alone one adorned in yellow and black, he would’ve had twelve.

When Buddy plays well, his range extends from 60 metres to 75. He’s electric on the ground, yet colossal in the air. When things are looking bleak for the Bloods, Buddy pushes up the ground, runs his heart out and might just dob one from seventy.

Buddy on a Friday night in the midst of May was bordering on unstoppable. He received the ball at seventy five just ten minutes into the game, strode to seventy and clobbered the ball probably eighty metres through the uprights. Rance held him, somehow, to a handful only. Three of those went flying through from beyond fifty metres.

I watched Buddy’s lads recover from the one point loss to the Tigers as they got up over the Hawks. Buddy was held to three goals and two behinds, but he, again, made the match.

In the second quarter, a high ball was booted into the swirly MCG winter winds. Buddy leapt skywards into a pack of Hawks and brought down a contested chest mark. He’d ran back and jumped with the flight of the ball, eyes never leaving the footy. In the final quarter, he launched a bomb that left his boot closer to the centre circles than the edge of the square. Goal.  His final salute came curtesy of a fifty metre drop punt on the run.

In a match where his side kicked just ten goals, Buddy’s three were immense.

His 2016 season has reached a point where no full-back can actually stop him. He can take marks, run, kick goals from 80 metres out and win 20 disposals per game. For a full-forward, Franklin is a special breed, in the mould of the Matthew Richardson of 2008. At 29, Buddy’s done what most players can never dream of. Two premierships, a few Coleman Medals, a ton of goals in a season, a multi-million dollar contract.

The next step for Buddy is an achievement that I would never imagine a full-forward of the 21st century managing.

The Brownlow.

And it’s possible too! Buddy is no longer a mere goal kicker, he is a versatile, smart, ball-winning and match-changing monster capable of turning a game, season, code on its head. I think he’s playing footy beyond the level of his 2008 season, a season where we may have seen the last ton kicked by an individual.

He’ll trundle back to the SCG this week, for a clash with the unbeaten Roos. It wasn’t too long ago that he beat North off his own boot, contributing thirteen.

His admirers grow and grow. We’ll be watching.




  1. yep he is a deadset gun. forget Richo, he is Plugger and G Ablett Snr combined.

    should win the Brownlow in a procession. and won’t…

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