Response to Buddy booing proves we're growing: Longmire

·3-min read

John Longmire believes the response to last weekend's Lance Franklin booing incident proves the AFL and its fans are growing but the Sydney coach stopped short of declaring his star player won't face catcalls again.

One of the greatest ever to play the game, 36-year-old Franklin was relentlessly jeered by sections of the MCG crowd during the Swans' round-eight loss to Collingwood last Sunday.

Reactions ranged from confusion on Longmire's part post-match, to suggestions the booing may have been racially motivated.

The last time the Swans met the Magpies at the MCG, in 2013, a teenage Collingwood fan infamously yelled a racial slur at Indigenous player Adam Goodes, who asked for the supporter to be ejected.

The AFL was criticised for being slow to decry the regular booing of Goodes that continued over the ensuing weeks. The premiership-winner ultimately retired from the game on frosty terms in 2015.

But after Sunday's match, the Magpies, Swans and AFL promptly issued statements condemning the booing of Franklin, while media pundits rallied around the Sydney forward.

Longmire was Sydney's coach when Goodes was booed a decade ago and was heartened by the unanimous support shown to Franklin.

"He's fine, that's important to note. He's just getting into his footy," Longmire said.

"The football community in general has learned a lot over the years. (The response) is just sensible and reacting with care, which is all genuine, which has been much appreciated.

"The general consensus across the football community has been really strong."

In round two, Port Adelaide recruit and former No.1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis was booed by sections of the Collingwood crowd, behaviour which was repeated by the Power's rivals in the weeks that followed.

Longmire was realistic the AFL might never be able to stop players from being booed repeatedly.

"I can't say what we're going to see from the fans' point of view," he said.

"I'm on the record as saying I'm not a big fan of the booing, full stop. We'll wait and see.

"All we can go on is that hopefully the community keeps learning and growing. I'm confident that it has.

"(The booing of Goodes) would have been in a number of people's minds, that's clear.

"Everyone's growing and learning about what's happening in the past. What happened with Adam was clearly a terrible, tough time for him and a lot of people around him.

"But Lance is good, he's fine. He's looking forward to this week."

North Melbourne mentor Alastair Clarkson, who handed Franklin his senior debut at Hawthorn, suggested rival fans should be showing Franklin the respect he deserves in what is set to be his final season in the AFL.

"I just felt for the big fella, he's a ripper. He and his family have given great service to both the Hawthorn and Sydney footy clubs," he said on Thursday.

"He's one of (six) players in the history of the game to have kicked over 1000 goals.

"He's the first Indigenous player to do that and we celebrated that like something we've never seen before in our game a little over 12 months ago at the SCG.

"And then that happens last week, it's just like, 'Why?'. It just doesn't make sense."