Buddy Franklin development saddens AFL fans as grand final plea falls on deaf ears

The retired Sydney Swans superstar won't be in attendance at the AFL grand final on Saturday.

Buddy Franklin, pictured here with his family.
Buddy Franklin doesn't appear likely to take part in the AFL grand final parade of retired players. Image: Getty

Jordan Lewis has revealed former teammate Buddy Franklin hasn't made the trip down to Melbourne for Hawthorn's 10-year premiership reunion, and he "doesn't think" Buddy will take part in the grand final motorcade for retired players on Saturday. On Wednesday, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan made a public plea for Franklin to attend amid fears the retired Sydney Swans star would skip the festivities.

“Buddy, we‘d love you to be here on Saturday,” McLachlan said. “100,000 supporters at the G and millions of fans Australia-wide would love to say goodbye to you because you’ve been one of the greatest players the game has seen.

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“He‘s one of the most remarkable players we have seen and there’s been no bigger name in football over the last 20 years. I think the fans would love to see him and send him off appropriately in as many ways as they can.”

But discussing the situation on AFL 360 on Thursday night, Franklin's close friend and former Hawthorn teammate Lewis said he doesn't think it will happen. Lewis revealed Franklin is still on the Gold Coast with his family - where they relocated after his final game for the Swans late in the season.

“I spoke to him Tuesday and he didn‘t make the trip down,” Lewis said on Fox Footy. When asked if Franklin would take part in the grand final motorcade, Lewis said: "I don't think so".

Fellow former Hawthorn player Shaun Burgoyne said earlier this week that he was holding out hope of seeing Franklin in Melbourne. “I don’t know actually if he’s coming (to the official reunion). It’ll be good to see him there, I’m not too sure,” Burgoyne told 7News. “But we’ve got a catch-up – there’s another one with players again (on Wednesday night) where we’ll reminisce about the old days.”

Buddy Franklin, pictured here saying his goodbyes at the SCG in August.
Buddy Franklin said his goodbyes at the SCG in August. (Photo by Jason McCawley/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

Franklin is believed to be keen to stay out of the spotlight since his heartbreaking retirement. He said his goodbyes to Swans fans at the SCG in August, but reportedly doesn't want all the fanfare of an MCG sendoff on grand final day.

Speaking during his SCG farewell, Franklin said: "A lot of happiness, a little bit of sadness. It's all come to an end...little bit overwhelmed. A long time of playing footy. It is absolutely incredible to see our fans out here today."

Buddy Franklin an 'unbelievably private person'

Franklin also chose to skip his official retirement press conference in July, with coach John Longmire and CEO Tom Harley fronting the media instead. The 36-year-old played 354 games and kicked 1066 goals across nine seasons with the Hawks and 10 with the Swans.

He announced his immediate retirement after suffering a calf injury against Essendon in July that would have ruled him out of the rest of the regular season. The Swans then surged into the finals after finishing seventh, but whether or not Franklin would have been fit to return will never be known.

"He is an unbelievably private person," Harley said. "From the club's point of view, we are absolutely comfortable with that. We probably all want to hear from Lance and I'm sure that will happen in time."

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Longmire added: "He's always been low key - 'I don't want any fanfare, there's no fanfare'. I said, 'Well, there's a fact of life here mate, you are one of the all-time greats'. But he just doesn't like these situations.

"He's most comfortable at the footy ground, and everyone sees the way he walks over from the ground and thinks it's 24 hours a day. It's not - he's just very humble and very private."

Fans have been left disappointed and saddened at the news that Franklin won't be in attendance on Saturday. Many have pointed out that he was booed and 'disrespected' by Collingwood fans at the MCG earlier this season.

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