For all his brilliance, with strut and swagger not seen since Wayne Carey in his pomp, there was a moment in the 2012 grand final when Buddy Franklin blew it.
There’s no doubt Franklin played well that day.
Writing in The New Daily on Sunday, Martin Blake said if “Franklin kicked his fourth, midway through the final quarter, he might well have won the Norm Smith Medal and Hawthorn might have won, that’s how tight it was – but he missed”.
Yes, he missed, but that wasn’t the key moment in that grand final.
That came a few minutes later when, with six minutes left on the clock, Franklin marked a quick kick forward from Grant Birchall just inside 50 on the left hand side of the arc – the Buddy zone.
The Hawks trailed by seven, but were coming.
The stage was set, the script had been written – all Buddy had to do was step up and kick the goal.
But he didn’t. He didn’t even try. He spotted Jack Gunston floating into the pocket and passed it off.
There could be arguments made that Gunston – a noted sharpshooter – was in a better position and had a better chance of kicking the goal.
But I reckon Buddy, who was playing in his 161st game of senior footy, shirked the responsibility of kicking for goal because his confidence was shot.
Instead, he passed to a 20-year-old kid playing his 33rd game and said: “I’m not game, you kick it.” Gunston hit the post.
Last year against Fremantle, Buddy was subdued and kicked just a single goal and he bagged a couple against the Cats in the 2008 decider.
There’s no doubt he’s got unfinished grand final business.
A Roughy for the Norm?
Buddy, despite his patchy GF form, is joint favourite to win the Norm Smith medal, alongside his teammates Luke Parker and Josh Kennedy – paying $8.
Jarryd Roughead, meanwhile, is paying $15. We like Roughy. There’s no sniff of boutique beer about him, no Miss Universe and no t-shirt label. He’s our kind of player – he looks like a bloke born to pour concrete, fix your taps or be the friendly face emerging from the RACV car when you’ve broken down on the freeway. Rest easy – Roughy’s here.
In this age of razzle dazzle, his brand of understated brilliance is just what the doctor ordered. We’d like to see Norm dangling beneath that wonderfully Australian mug of his when the big race has been run and won.
Another good value option is Jarrad McVeigh ($23), while the smart money (ie mine) is on Bradley Hill ($41).
Sequels are never as good as the originals
This generalisation always puzzled me when I’d hear it growing up. Did these lazy minds not see Terminator 2? Aliens? The Empire Strikes Back? The Godfather Part II? The Eagles win the 2006 GF??
Let me shoot this one down right now – sequels are frequently as good, as if not better, than originals. If this grand final gets anywhere close to the classic we witnessed in 2012, it’ll be job well done.
If not, well, at least it’ll be better than last year’s fizzer.
If there’s a player in the AFL I’d like to adopt it’d be Ted Richards. I remember him getting bumped off his kick by Daniel Chick as the 2006 grand final hit fever pitch. Richards hit his head on the ground and was effectively knocked out. The image of a cramping Chick (who dragged his legs through hell to lay the bump) and a KO’d Richards flat on the MCG turf has stayed with me. Some part of Richards’ brain knew what was going on and, like a badly staggered street fighter, he waved the Sydney trainer away and started looking for his man.
I don’t think Richards had another effective moment in the game, but he won my heart that day – even though club allegiance meant I was hoping he stayed down.
Six years later he finally got his hands on the cup, and did a great job against Buddy in that manic final quarter. Richards is a diamond.
Stop! … Spangher time
There was a time during the last decade when I was a regular at Patersons Stadium to watch West Coast play, and the very mention of the name ‘Matt Spangher’ was sure to raise my blood pressure a few notches. He managed 26 games across from 2008-2010 out west, and his clanger-riddled efforts seemed indicative of just how bad the club was during that period. Then he moved to Sydney.
At the end of 2012 his career was on the scrapheap, delisted by the Swans after failing to play a game in their premiership year, but the Hawks threw him a rubber ring, and he’s clung to it like a man possessed.
He was unlucky to miss out on last year’s flag, but could find himself with his hands on the cup should the Hawks get up on Saturday.
If he does, it’ll be a sweet reward for perseverance.
“Not everyone is destined for that 300 games, Brownlow and premiership career,” Spangher said in an interview with the AFLPA last year.
“I have a go – I don’t think there is anything special about my game – I am probably predictable to my teammates and my coaches most of the time … I’m pretty simple, pretty crash and bash.”
Here’s hoping you crash and bash your way to a flag on Saturday, Spangh.
Class on tap
All right, all right – enough of the working class heroes. Saturday’s game will be oozing class wherever you look. Mitchell, Parker, Hodge, Goodes, Gunston, McGlynn, Hannebery, Smith, Breust, Malceski, Tippett – and that’s just the supporting cast. Top billing is surely held by Roughy and his old mate Bud. The caveman versus the cavalier.
Sydney and Hawthorn have been the two best sides all year, watching them go hammer and tongs to decide the premier will be a privilege. Roll on 2:30pm Saturday.