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Buddy flaws hurt Hawks


Tim Lane

IT'S NO pleasant task to isolate Lance ''Buddy'' Franklin in an assessment of Hawthorn's grand final defeat. He is a uniquely brilliant crowd-pleaser who illuminates the often tackling-dominated modern game. He is football's flawed diamond and, in part, it's the flaw that makes the beauty so distinctive.

For the individual himself, no doubt a proud professional, it would be no fun to have one's personal contribution subjected to particular scrutiny after so painful a defeat.

And no doubt the club will be inclined to leap to the defence of its player and attack the critics for focusing on one high-profile member of a team that lost.

They will say others made mistakes, too. Even Sam Mitchell gave up a goal with an undisciplined, momentum-squandering 50-metre penalty. Cyril Rioli inexplicably played on after taking a mark well within range. Clinton Young failed to stay on his feet and surrendered a goal when the match was being lost. Grant Birchall was below his best and Jarryd Roughead had a bad one.

But when it comes to the basics of football, scoring is as fundamental as it gets. Hawthorn didn't get that fundamental right when it counted. In their past two games the Hawks kicked 24 goals, 34 behinds; their opponents outscored them by five points with 28 goals, 15.

Buddy was the worst offender and it wasn't as though this was an event without precedent.

In 2008, when he racked up 113 goals, his kicking was frequently on the agenda. The reason back then was that he also kicked 88 behinds. But Buddy won the Coleman Medal and Hawthorn won the flag, so he and the Hawks had the answer for their critics.

The difference now is that Hawthorn lost a grand final it had the talent - and match-day opportunities - to win. And it's demonstrable that Buddy's kicking for goal was below even his own shaky average. He also kicked poorly for goal under the pressure of the preliminary final. Damningly, in Hawthorn's losses this year he kicked seven goals, 20.

In those final two games, Franklin kicked six goals from 15 scoring shots and missed the target completely at crucial stages.

On the raw goal/behind figures used to measure accuracy, that puts him at 40 per cent across eight season-defining quarters. This is in comparison with the 56 per cent he's achieved over the six consecutive years the Hawks have relied on him as their leading provider of goals.

And 56 per cent is a low figure. Tony Lockett averaged 70 per cent, Matthew Lloyd 69, Jason Dunstall 66, while the maligned Nick Riewoldt sits at 60. The even more maligned Matthew Richardson achieved 59 per cent accuracy over his sometimes wayward years.

And in the grand final, it is undeniable Buddy missed shots at big moments. He wasted a chance to give the Hawks a flying start in the first two minutes. Who knows what the impact of a booming goal off his left boot at the start may have been?

A bigger moment came a minute before half-time. The Hawks were struggling and Franklin had the opportunity to give his team something to take to the rooms. A chance from 40 metres went begging.

Then there was the fateful shot early in the last quarter after two early Hawthorn goals had given it an 11-point break. The momentum was growing and had Buddy nailed that shot, from 45 metres, it may have been irresistible. Certainly a 17-point lead was going to take some reeling in.

In that last quarter, set shots at goal had become like a nervous contender's drives on Sunday at Augusta. And just as the size of the moment is magnified, so is the impact of flawed technique. One of golf's greatest teachers, Mac O'Grady, preaches that good technique provides the maximum time to make the minimum compensation.

Buddy tends to the opposite end of the spectrum. He has been executing imperfectly for years and neither he, nor his coaches, has overcome the problem. In mid-career, his skills should be well-honed, yet his accuracy percentage of the past two seasons has actually been below his career figure. It's time the harsh reality was genuinely confronted.

Buddy also consumes much of Hawthorn's front-half oxygen, which - given his prodigious talents - is hardly surprising. But with such scope comes the burden of responsibility. He must deliver the goods or face the inquisition.

If there's a football parable for player and club right now, perhaps it's that of Carlton and Greg Williams. In the early 1990s, the Blues' over-reliance on ''Diesel'' for midfield supremacy, coupled with his preference for that arrangement, brought them undone. They were picked apart in the 1993 grand final and made a straight-sets exit from the finals the following year.

From adversity came opportunity: David Parkin's team discovered mid-field rotations and Williams accepted a degree of subjugation. The next year they won the flag, Diesel kicked five and won the Norm Smith Medal.


  • Tim. Were you at the game? Did you witness the strength of the wind? Did you take note that 75% of the goals were kicked with the wind? I am sure it easy for everyone to criticise from the sidelines, never knowing what it is like to feel the pressure of a Grand Final. Hawthorn lost because Sydney played better for longer and because they had more players that performed better on the day. Despite his inaccuracy, Buddy was clearly in Hawthorn's top 5 for the day. His efforts over four quarters and his single handed effort to drag Hawthorn back in to the game cannot be ignored. Everyone knows Buddy's style in unorthodox but it continues to deliver more goals than most players every year. Instead of blaming Buddy for the loss, perhaps you should look outside the square and research the stats of the bottom 17 players in the Hawks squad to find out how they all had bigger contribution to the loss on the day than just one man.

    Date and time
    October 07, 2012, 12:55AM
    • I imagine the Hawks would have won if Rioli had played. Oh hang on.....

      Talk about a player getting off scott free for criticism. The only thing he did of note was gift a 50m penalty to the Swans because he sooked that Jetta was quicker than him. Surely in the top 10 of most over rated footballers in the AFL.

      Date and time
      October 07, 2012, 10:36AM
    • Unfortunately I think Leigh Matthews said it but when Buddy was out for the 5-6 weeks with a hammy, the Hawks won without a main "go-to" so the goals were spread around to those in the team who can actually kick goals and enjoy kicking goals. When Buddy came back he was again the main focus of attention for the Hawks' inside 50s. Sydney caught the Hawks out on this and Clarko was out-coached. Buddy like Cyril should have spread around the from the wing to full-forward. Sorry if I am repeating what some of you may have already pointed out. Its the team and the coach that needs to ponder on their lack of tactical foresight - buddy's just a big presence so the attentions swaying to him.

      Date and time
      October 07, 2012, 11:04AM
    • Settle down Gilly. If you are going to criticise 50 metre penalties, how about the soft one against Sam Mitchell in the 3rd quarter, that was actually about 70 metres and gave the Swans an easy goal when all the momentum was with Hawthorn. It's easy to criticise frees to Rioli, and he didn't have a good day, but at least be consistent with the standards you apply.... Oh and by the way, where was Jude Bolton on GF day???

      Will Turner
      Date and time
      October 07, 2012, 12:00PM
    • @Will Turner, Bolton had more than 50% tears to his ACL and PCL on Grand Final Day.

      Jack Sparrow
      Two can play this game
      Date and time
      October 07, 2012, 12:56PM
    • Hey Will, he was on the podium getting his medal!!!

      Date and time
      October 07, 2012, 1:17PM
  • Sadly Tim, you are right on the mark here.
    Buddy is a freakish footballer, who does a lot that isn't always recognised and contributes unselfishly, but unfortunately, he just cannot kick.
    This was never more obvious than it was in last week's Grand Final. In kicking he is a one trick pony. He can only reliably ping a goal if he is snapping on the run, from the left. He played on after a couple of marks, just to get himself into that position, when he should have just laid back and sent it through from a good run up over the mark.
    It seems incredible, with talent such as his, that he has never learned to kick truly from dead in front. He is hopeless at it.
    He might even be the greatest footballer of all time, but for this flaw.
    He will never get this right, unless he want to get it right, and from what I hear, he does not want to be coached at kicking.
    It is frustrating, confusing, debilitating and disappointing, for everyone.
    As a Hawks supporter, I can only scratch my head and wonder why.

    Date and time
    October 07, 2012, 1:07AM
    • Now don't laugh, but I reckon Matthew Richardson was very similar to Buddy. Big mobile blokes who spoil the effect with often inaccurate kicking. I support the bombers so I have equal disdain for both clubs, but I enjoyed watching Richo when he was on and Buddy can be a revelation in AFL which has become roving mauls, stacks on the mill and no real rules.

      Date and time
      October 07, 2012, 1:31AM
      • Finally......... a commentator touches on the MOST important statistic in AFL football - Goal Kicking Accuracy "Percentage Conversion"
        Sydney was the only AFL team to use a GoalKicka Target this year.
        They went from 15th in 2011 Goal Kicking Accuracy (54% Conversion) to 1st in 2012 Goal Kicking Accuracy (63% Conversion)
        This year, Sydney had an extremely driven, innovative and dedicated approach to improving their Goal Kicking Accuracy. Lead by Nick Davis and Ben Moore, the skill development team created amazing results.
        Throughout the year AND on the big day, the Sydney players delivered.

        Date and time
        October 07, 2012, 1:55AM
        • Good comment. Now read my post below to understand the science.

          Mac Hawk
          Date and time
          October 07, 2012, 10:56AM

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