One of the AFL’s greatest strikers, Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin, is set to play his 350th game this weekend, and superstar Swan has revealed how he would like to be remembered when he finally retires .
The 36-year-old will line up for Sydney when they face St Kilda at SCG for the huge stage, 6,647 days after making his debut for Hawthorn as a skinny teenager in 2005.
The Indigenous superstar, from Western Australia, will go down as one of the greatest First Nations players the game has ever seen, as well as being one of the greatest strikers of all time.
His CV is by far the brightest of any current player and highlights the magical way he has pierced the world of footy with his hard-hitting left boot and remarkable athleticism.
Two Premierships, eight All Australian Blazers, four Coleman medals, 13 times best club goalkeeper and a Best and Fairest winner in a premiership year. Twice he won Goal of the Year for efforts most players could only dream of.
Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin will play his 350th AFL game when Swans take on St Kilda on Thursday night, and he has revealed how he wants to be remembered after his career is over.
The Swans superstar, pictured with his wife Jesinta in 2021, is soft-spoken and very modest off the pitch, and hates showcasing his own achievements on the pitch
Franklin is pictured in 2013 celebrating the second of two flags he won with the Hawks
But it’s not those accomplishments he wants to be remembered for.
Franklin, one of the game’s most modest and gentle figures off the court, wants to be remembered for two very simple things when he finally retires.
“(Like) someone who had a crack…and just had fun,” he told Swans staffers in a video that will be the only interview he will give ahead of his milestone game. .
“That’s been the biggest thing throughout my journey is that I’ve kept it pretty simple and I think the key has obviously been that fun part.
“That’s probably why I lasted so long, because I keep it simple, I go out with a smile and enjoy it.
“Whether it’s working out, strength training, Pilates, having fun and building strong relationships with everyone here.”
It’s been remarkable for a 199cm, 102kg key striker to play so many matches and stay almost completely injury-free, even in an age of sports medicine and high-performance training expertise.
Franklin said he wanted to be known as a footballer who ‘had a crack’ and ‘always had fun’
As a skinny teenager, Franklin made his debut for Hawthorn aged just 18 in 2005 (pictured in Round 17 of that year)
Franklin admits there’s a bit of ‘luck’ involved and ‘good genetics’, but that’s an incredibly self-deprecating view of someone who has scored over 1,500 goals.
His career was so long and successful that he outlasted eight Australian Prime Ministers, 1020 other players, 76 AFL head coaches. His teammate Corey Wagner was just 18 months old when Franklin made his debut.
“That’s a lot of games,” joked Franklin.
“It’s something I’m very proud of, there’s no doubt about it. Reaching 350 games in AFL football is a huge achievement.
But Franklin admitted there is one thing in particular he now finds difficult playing in the AFL at 36.
Despite being relatively free of the continual problems that plague most veterans, the Swans star has been managed by coach John Longmire in some games and held back by staff in training.
The question for Sydney staff is not how they can play in every AFL game, but which games should they play in to give the Swans the best chance of team success.
And that can be very frustrating for someone who has rarely been short on time in a storied AFL career.
Franklin, pictured celebrating a goal in last year’s preliminary final, admits it’s hard for him to be held back and protected at the end of his career
Franklin celebrates winning the 2013 Grand Finals for Hawthorn against the Dockers. A few weeks later it was confirmed that he would be moving to Sydney
“You can’t do what you did when you started. You can’t do all the workouts, which for me is pretty hard,” Franklin conceded.
“You want to be able to do anything. Once you get a bit older, you have to manage yourself, to make sure you’re right to go on game day.
“It can sometimes be a mental challenge, because everyone wants to train as much as possible.
“But when you get to my age, you have to manage yourself as best you can and do whatever it takes to make sure you can get out.”
While most marquee men would run across the banner holding their kids, the notoriously private Franklin won’t do the same.
The Swans superstar married model Jesinta Campbell (now Franklin) in 2016, and the couple have two children, Rocky and Tallulah.
But Jesinta will instead watch from the stands with the kids and their myriad of family and friends when ‘Buddy’ walks through the SCG banner – just as they did when fans swarmed the pitch after his 1,000th goal of the year last.
Franklin and his model wife Jesinta have two kids: Rocky and Tallulah, but the notoriously private dad won’t bring them across the banner with him for his milestone match.
Fans invade the SCG in the second round, 2022, when Franklin scored his 100th AFL goal
It is also a crucial game for the Swans.
Last year’s grand finalists sit 12th on the scale after a slow start to the year.
The fifth-ranked Saints present a tough challenge, given that their form has been harder to grasp than a feather in a windstorm.
But you just know that Franklin is ready and eager to do what he does best: score goals and win football games.
The brilliant career of “Buddy” Franklin
2005: Made his debut for Hawthorn at 18 in the first round against the Swans
2007: Has a breakout season in the AFL, scoring the most goals for Hawthorn and finishing third in the club’s best and fairest
2008: Perhaps the best year of his long career. Wins the first of his four Coleman medals, with a season of 113 goals. Is named best and fairest for the Hawks in a premiership year, after beating the Cats in the Grand Finals
2010: Earns his first goal of the year for a stunning running effort against Essendon, who will go down as one of the all-time greats
2011: Wins a second Coleman medal after scoring 71 goals and is named to his third All Australian team
2013: Ended his Hawthorn career in perfect fashion, winning the 2013 Grand Final against Fremantle. Also won Goal of the Year for a brilliant long-range goal after knocking down players against Collingwood
2014: In one of the biggest moves in AFL history, Franklin moves to Sydney to land an astonishing 10-year, $10 million deal with the Swans, avoiding far more money than was offered by the fledgling club GWS. Wins his third Coleman medal but his team falls to Hawthorn in the grand final
Franklin (centre) at a press conference to announce he had officially joined the Swans ahead of the 2014 season on an astonishing 10-year, $10 million deal
2016: Plays in another losing Grand Final for the Swans, when they go down to the Bulldogs. Win the sixth All Australian blazer
2017: Playing his 250th game and garnering a career-high tied 22 votes in the Brownlow after a stellar season that saw him win his last Coleman Medal
2018: Appointed captain of the All Australian team, and becomes the second player after Tony Lockett to score 300 goals for two different clubs
2019: Playing his 300th AFL game, in which he was the best away thanks to a performance of four goals and ten marks
2022: Becomes sixth AFL/VFL player to score 1,000 goals, causing incredible scenes at SCG and playing in his third losing Grand Final for the club in the final year of his huge contract
2023: Brings his 350th game after signing a one-year contract in pre-season