Lance Franklin booing saga, Collingwood issues apology, Nathan Buckley slams Magpies fan behaviour
Collingwood has issued an apology to Sydney superstar Lance Franklin after he was incessantly booed by Magpies fans during Sunday’s clash between the two teams.
In what could be one of Franklin’s last games at the MCG, the 36-year-old was booed every time he touched the football, leaving his coach John Longmire baffled by the reception.
Collingwood released a joint statement from club captain Darcy Moore, coach Craig McRae and CEO Craig Kelly in which they denounced the fans’ behaviour.
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“We apologise to the Sydney Swans and to Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin,” the statement read.
“The club does not support booing, particularly champions of the game. Yesterday was the first time we played the Swans at the MCG in a decade – it provided an opportunity to respect a champion of the game and we fell short.
“Buddy is a great of Australian football – what he has achieved on the field over a long period of time demands a high level of respect.
“To our members and supporters, we are on an exciting journey at Collingwood and we do not take for granted the unwavering support you provide us with at every game – home or away.
“Our fans turn up like no other – you’re our 19th player – you’re loud, you’re passionate, you’re emotional.
“We hope the next time we get the chance to witness a champion of the game we treat them with respect, the same respect we ask for when it comes to our players and our champions.
“When our club has the opportunity, we stand side by side with the greats of our game.”
Collingwood’s apology came after club legend Nathan Buckley implored the team’s fans to be better moving forward.
“At best, it was a begrudging acknowledgement of the sustained brilliance Franklin has brought against Collingwood and at worst, it’s ignorance and bigotry,” he told SEN.
“If we get another chance, I hope Collingwood fans that aren’t ignorant and that aren’t bigots – because there will be some booing – stand up and applaud every time he gets a touch and try and drown that (booing) out.
“That’s exactly what the stars of the game and (someone with) his status in the game deserve.
“So, we were gifted an opportunity to celebrate this undisputed champion and a section of the faithful chose to denigrate and I don’t think that we took the opportunity to do the right thing and take the higher ground.”
Sydney said it was “extremely disappointed” by the reception given to Franklin on Sunday.
“Fans are the lifeblood of our game and have the right to cheer loudly at the football,” a club statement read.
“But booing isn’t a right – it’s offensive – and players should not be subjected to it in their workplace.
“We have been here before and sadly it seems some people have not learned from the past.”
Sydney’s frustration stems from club legend Adam Goodes being driven into premature retirement due to incessant booing from around the competition in his final two seasons.
The beginning of the end of Goodes’ career ironically started the last time the Swans faced Collingwood at the MCG before Sunday, when he was racially abused by a young Magpies supporter in May 2013.
Goodes was heavily criticised by some for calling out the young fan’s actions at the time and subsequently booed in almost every match he played in his final two seasons before he retired at the end of 2015. He has largely avoided all AFL-related events since his retirement.
Booing of players has been an issue in the competition this season, with Port Adelaide youngster Jason Horne-Francis also targeted by Collingwood fans.
“All players have the right to be treated respectfully on-field,” AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said in a statement on Monday afternoon.
“We want everyone to go to a game and express themselves, the passion for the contest and the voice of the crowd is what sets our competition apart, however we don’t accept excessive booing as part of our game.
“Jason Horne-Francis is an emerging star of our game, Lance Franklin is an all-time great. Our view applies equally to both. In fact, no player should be targeted in that way.
“We should never take the champions for granted. Players like Buddy are the best of our game and regardless of who you barrack for we should continue to celebrate all the champions accordingly.”
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