As a rusted-on Swans supporter, news of Lance Franklin’s imminent $10m, nine-year deal to move to Sydney doesn’t excite me anywhere near as much as Victorian fans might believe.
It has nothing to do with personality, although it’s hard to see how Buddy fits in under the Swans’ infamous “no dickheads” policy.
But first of all, let’s clear a few things up.
Victorian AFL clubs’ sham “anger” over the living allowance should be ignored. Franklin’s getting an extra 9%. If he wasn’t, he’d still be getting $1m as opposed to $1.1m per year.
All the critics need to know is he fits under the salary cap (hands, arms, legs and feet touching wood) and to say Buddy’s making the switch for an extra $100K a year is purely selective scrutiny and cheap journalism.
An extra $100K a year is a shoelace deal for these guys.
Think about it – you’re offered $1m a year to work from home, or $1.1m to up sticks and start again in another state. Which do you take?
Also, the Swans aren’t getting him for free. They’ll have to cough up a couple of pretty decent players – most likely Sam Read, who’s been a disappointment but no one doubts he has the ability to be a proper top-flight star; and Jesse White, who finally found his mojo in the back end of 2013 and looked every bit the big, surprisingly mobile forward he always promised to be.
Let’s see how much they go for before we start crunching the numbers, finding they actually add up, then conveniently ignoring them.
Despite all the protestations, Sydney does not “buy” premierships. Yes, some good talent has been lured to NSW – Kirk Tippett being the standout example.
But for every Tippett, there’s always several recruits who come to the Swans having been thrown a lifeline. The two recent excellent examples are from Hawthorn – Ben McGlynn and Josh Kennedy, both whom left the Hawks because they weren’t being given a regular run in the seniors.
And to focus on a single blockbuster buy does a great disservice to the massive grassroots work the Swans have done in identifying and developing their junior talent.
Current players Nick Malceski, Gary Rohan, Craig Bird, Dan Hannebery, the Jack brothers, Tom Mitchell, Dane Rampe and Luke Parker all made their AFL debuts for the Swans. Any AFL club would be thrilled to have had them right from the start.
Buddy likes Sydney. Melbourne, deal with it.
He has a girlfriend in Sydney.
He has several best mates in Sydney.
He’s not comfortable with media scrutiny, particularly of the rabid Victorian kind, which to outsiders can make TMZ look like the Christian Science Monitor.
Sydney did not “steal” Buddy Franklin; Melbourne lost him.
This is Tony Lockett all over again, but with one major difference. In 1995, Sydney needed Tony Lockett.
In 2014, they don’t need Franklin and here’s why:
580 goals might be worth paying for. 413 points, not so much.
Midfielders run all the way into retirement. Defenders just get smarter. There's a good case for wanting to stack some experience into those positions. But Franklin's competing with rebounding defenders and the past two years, he's been down on nearly every stat in the book - marks, goals, disposals. He's not exactly ramping up to replace Adam Goodes.
The Swans were badly exposed by strong midfields late in the season. They could do worse than add the available Nick Dal Santo or Adam Cooney into the mix, even take a punt on the chronically injured Dale Thomas.
And we're talking physically. The Swans have evolved into probably the league's biggest side. They might lose White and Read, but there's still a few 200cm+ monsters like Mumford, Everitt, Pyke and Tippett jamming up the airways. Good luck finding some space at the SCG, Buddy.
It wouldn't be the first time a fat forward reinvented himself. Matthew Richardson lost a few kegs and shifted to the wing late in his career, learned how to contest one-on-one and very nearly won a Brownlow.
Hawthorn have experimented with Franklin on the wing a lot more in recent years. But really, the only notable retirements from the Swans this year - and let's not forget, they were smashed by key injuries for the second half of the season and still made the preliminary final - were Bolton and Mattner. Hardly the type of players Franklin will be stepping in for.
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