Hitout: Lance "Buddy" Franklin takes a mark in a Sydney Swans intra club match. Photo: Anthony Johnson
If Lance Franklin expected moving to Sydney would allow him peace and space compared to the suffocating world of football-mad Melbourne, he was given a reminder that, on the field at least, he is going to draw a huge amount of attention in his adopted city.
Rusted on Swans fans might wish it was the club's array of stars that drew several hundred - some were saying more than 2000 people - to the team's intra-club hit-out at Lakeside Oval, just outside the Sydney Cricket Ground, on Wednesday evening.
If it were Collingwood, Geelong or even Franklin's old club Hawthorn, a crowd at, effectively, a training session would be par for the course. But at the Swans? They'd never seen anything like this.
Transmission towers loomed high in the air and sent back live crosses from half a dozen or so reporters before and during the game. A news chopper took footage from above of the swelling crowd, three or four deep from the fence surrounding the team's training ground.
The smell from a nearby sausage sizzle wafted across the Swans membership tent, a merchandise table and stalls of local teams looking to sign up kids. Even Ciggy the Swans mascot was there. All the big guns were deployed.
They were there to see Franklin and his new teammates go near-full tilt as part of their preparation for the upcoming pre-season clashes against GWS next week and, later, West Coast and Brisbane.
A slightly more attack-loaded side of Blues featuring the likes of Franklin, Josh Kennedy, Jarrad McVeigh, Nick Malceski and Sam Reid, took on a Reds side including gun midfielders Kieren Jack, Dan Hannebery and Ryan O'Keefe, ruckman Mike Pyke and up-and-comers such as Tom Mitchell and Brandon Jack.
Franklin was the main drawcard, but landed only three behinds for the match in an understandably rusty performance after a limited pre-season.
Tagged by Xavier Richards early on, Franklin saw plenty of ball alongside Pyke and Reid up front but missed a set shot after taking a strong contested mark. Instead, Kennedy and Pyke put on the points as the Blues took a 16-13 lead.
At the start of the second quarter, draftee Aliir Aliir - born in a refugee camp in Kenya in 1994 - had the job on the multi-million dollar man, before Jack went to him.
The Blues went further ahead in the term, with their goals including a welcome straight shot from Lewis Roberts-Thomson, who hasn't played senior football since round four last year.
With four minutes left in the term Jack laid a big hit on the considerably larger-framed Franklin, as if to remind the new boy in town just who is boss.
By half-time, the Blues led 41 to 21, but the Red team stormed back to take the lead in the third, including a lovely long set shot by late bloomer Dean Towers and a good trio of elegant grabs and goals by ruckman Toby Nankervis.
Lewis Jetta came on in the fourth quarter, completing the return of several Swans stars - only Adam Goodes and Kurt Tippett were missing from the match.
Franklin took a grab early in the fourth but missed again and finished the game on the bench. He stuck around to sign autographs and pose for photos with fans.