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Lance Franklin already grabbing worrying headlines for the Sydney Swans

Led astray? Dan Hannebury at Swans training.

Led astray? Dan Hannebury at Swans training. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Whether or not Dan Hannebery has been on a problematic Lance Franklin-led path, and whether or not club great Ryan O’Keefe had words - or worse - with Franklin at a recent training session, the point is that such rumours are in the news and the key word is “Buddy”.

Both stories are emphatically denied by Sydney. But that's pretty much irrelevant. The bigger story is whether the focus on Franklin will be a help or hindrance to John Longmire’s men over time. It's all happened pretty quickly. But it's not as though the Swans weren't expecting this. They knew they were entering territory they hadn't been in since the signing of the headline-grabbing Barry Hall in 2002, if not the leviathan Tony Lockett seven years earlier. They signed the modern game’s highest-profile player, with all his considerable baggage, and they locked him in for the long haul.

Having a good sense of what comes with the package probably explains why there is so much discomfort at the club about these latest stories. Staff feel it’s no surprise the tales emanated from Melbourne. There are some in Bleak City who haven’t come to terms with the fact that Franklin left the goldfish bowl to play out his career at the Swans, just like there are many in Adelaide who can't stand the Kurt Tippett deal.

Grudge match: The ill-feeling between GWS and Sydney is growing.

Grudge match: The ill-feeling between GWS and Sydney is growing. Photo: Getty Images

The well of goodwill towards the Swans has been drying and the club is no longer out to make friends. With the acquisitions of Franklin and Tippett, the moniker as everyone’s second-favourite team has been replaced by the reality that any slip-up by the club, especially by Franklin, will be seized upon henceforth. And where there are no flames, there will be some people furiously rubbing sticks together.

There is also a niggling feeling at Moore Park that their cross-town opponents are being mischievous. The Giants genuinely feel better off without Franklin eating up a big chunk of their budget (it’s hard to even think of him in orange and grey now) but clearly, judging by some recent comments, there is resentment at GWS about being left at the altar by the player, his manager and the Swans.

“When I see Buddy run out there I’ll be happy because we’ll have him playing in two of our games this season without paying him a dollar,” Giants godfather Kevin Sheedy said before the season opener. Other comments off the record, from both sides, have been far nastier than that.

Marked man: Franklin was quiet against GWS.

Marked man: Franklin was quiet against GWS. Photo: Getty Images

Private animosity boiled over and the gloves came off when GWS provocatively backed stripping Sydney of the Cost Of Living Allowance while arguing they should keep it because they were a developing club. The Giants then seethed that Franklin wasn’t made available for a pre-match press conference, attended by Andrew Demetriou, among others. The Giants had designs on a sold-out Spotless Stadium for the match. 

The Giants fought hard to build a rivalry and got what it wanted. They then consummated the hate, unforgettably, with a 32-point win in which they kept the signing-of-the-century to 1.1.

Had the Swans kicked straighter, taken the many opportunties they created, particularly in the first half, and beaten the Giants, there would have been less kindling for the spot fires about Franklin that have since emerged, wherever they came from.

“There’s some media that have clearly tried to get stuff on him early,” someone associated with the Franklin signing said. “But that’s going to happen wherever he goes. We're confident that once he settles in and the season gets going, the focus will be more on his football.”

With their next game more than a week away, against Collingwood, don’t be surprised if more stories emerge about Buddy troubles at the Swans. Because the Swans certainly won’t be.

15 comments so far

  • only one city is Bleak when it comes to Afl...

    Commenter
    Peter Warrington
    Location
    marrickville
    Date and time
    March 21, 2014, 12:28AM
    • @ PW with two premierships in the last 9 years, it isn't Sydney. Don't crap on your own doorstep. The Swans have achieved outstanding success in a city of people who only go to a sporting event to be seen.

      Commenter
      2 Flags
      Location
      Burwood
      Date and time
      March 21, 2014, 11:02AM
  • Keep the powder dry - at this stage, it is too early to fire with certainty.

    Commenter
    Howe Synnott
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    March 21, 2014, 7:29AM
    • Good to see Buddy mentoring the younger Swans, such as Hannebery, in the same manner than he mentored James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale during their time in Melbourne. While Franklin is a fantastic footballer and will play many good games for the Swans, is he worth sacrificing your club's culture for???

      Commenter
      GoGiants
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      March 21, 2014, 8:36AM
      • Sydney are about to enter a challenging era with the signings of Franklin and Tippett. With the retirements and aging of Bloods like Kirk, Bolton and O'Keefe, the so called "No Dickheads" policy is under enormous threat, and with the inevitable rise of the Giants, full houses at the SCG will become a bit harder to guarantee. The widespread discontent amongst other clubs with the COLA being dished out to uncontracted superstars is another threat to the squeaky clean image being portrayed by the Swans.

        Commenter
        Hopper
        Date and time
        March 21, 2014, 8:42AM
        • The AFL press have been like a pack of wolves waiting for the buddy deal to ruin Sydney. Reporting on what happens when he goes out to buy a pie and chips and saying it's the end of the Bloods culture because he exceeded his calorie intake for the day. The reality is is that Sydney have learned over 30 years what they need to do to put bums on seats and they are playing for keeps in a market unique in the sporting world. With the addition of the Giants to that landscape it's become even more aggressive. We got beaten well by the Giants and the team looked underdone, flat footed and lacking in poise but that's not Lance Franklins fault. It's the teams fault for not being well prepared for the challenge and for perhaps being a little too confident that they would win. Giant played with aggression, poise and hunger and deserved the win. Sydney won't make the same mistake twice, not to say they will win every game from here but they won't loose like that again this season. The sun has barley broken on the Franklin deal and to start making wild comments on his influence like the press have is silly and absurd. It's a long deal and it's here to stay for better or worse.

          Commenter
          Tt
          Date and time
          March 21, 2014, 8:45AM
          • @Tt The media have to make up stuff for the quiet season. A player doesn't go from averaging 60 goals per year to peanuts. 2014 will be a good year for Sydney.

            Commenter
            Well Said
            Location
            Burwood
            Date and time
            March 21, 2014, 10:58AM
        • This is a feedback loop, an article about another article. 'Worrying headlines' about 'worrying headlines'. Let's wait a month or so to see how things actually pan out.

          Commenter
          Decca
          Location
          MEL
          Date and time
          March 21, 2014, 10:43AM
          • One unexpected loss and all the (usually Melbourne-based) "experts" are gleefully reporting every bit of negative gossip they can get their hands on (or make up).

            How about giving some credit to the Giants for playing well? And also give them kudos for recruiting really well.

            I'm a Swans fan, but I'm ore than a little pleased at how well the Giants played last weekend. I can see them winning their next three games too. Maybe a Swans/Giants GF isn't as far off as Victorians would hope...:)

            Commenter
            Chris
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            March 21, 2014, 11:12AM
            • Don't worry Swans fans - only another 9 years on the contract :)

              Commenter
              Phil
              Location
              Sydney
              Date and time
              March 21, 2014, 12:50PM

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