AFL boss Gillon McLachlan is hoping Buddy Franklin turns up for the grand final celebrations after singing the retired great's praise in a press conference on Wednesday. Franklin retired from AFL ahead of the season's end after suffering another injury setback.
Franklin was granted a legend's farewell at the Sydney Cricket Ground in August having played 354 games and kicked 1066 goals for the Hawks and the Swans, finishing as the fourth highest goal-kicker in the game's history.
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Franklin skipped Hawthorn's private event on Tuesday, but Shaun Burgoyne was hoping to see the AFL great at a more relaxed event on Wednesday. “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 Seven News. “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.”
McLachlan admitted it would be great to see Franklin join the other AFL greats for the grand final celebrations now he is retired. “Buddy, we’d love you to be here on Saturday – 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,” the AFL boss said on Wednesday.
McLachlan addressed the hype around Franklin and admitted the Swans legend is an 'elusive' figure outside of the field. “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,” McLachlan said. “I think the fans would love to see him and send him off appropriately in as many ways as they can.”
Buddy Franklin celebrates in farewell
Franklin said goodbye to an adoring Sydney Swans crowd in August, which saw him break down to tears during the beautiful farewell. "A lot of happiness, a little bit of sadness. It's all come to an end...little bit overwhelmed," Franklin said to Channel 7.
"A long time of playing footy. It is absolutely incredible to see our fans out here today."
Franklin said he was going to miss the day-to-day life of an AFL player in retirement: "Just playing footy, mate. I'm going to miss that."
During his lap of honour, Channel 7 commentator Luke Darcy lauded the atmosphere created at the iconic venue. “Only six players have got to the 1000 goal club and Buddy Franklin’s legacy will be as one of the greatest we have ever seen, and what a moment this is to see him with a full house at the SCG,” he said.
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