Wednesday 21 March 2018 / 07:52 PM

Has Buddy Got His Groove Back?

Before I answer that, I’d like to talk about Mitch Clark for a minute, who this week retired from the Melbourne Football Club to focus on his battle with overcoming depression.

Clark arrived at the Demons after the 2011 season, hailed as a recruiting coup when they snaffled him from under the nose of the Fremantle Dockers. The Dockers were so confident of landing him they’d released a statement welcoming him to the club only a few days earlier.

In the grandiose style befitting of their previous administration, the Demons usurped the Dockers by giving up a higher draft pick and offering Clark a four-year contract worth a reported $3m, putting the previously inconsistent and injury-hampered big man in the top echelon of the league’s most highly paid players.

Fremantle was left red-faced, and once again consigned to scouring the land for that elusive key forward to replace the ageing Matthew Pavlich.

My blood boiled, and, in response to the Demons’ actions, I put a curse on them. You may smirk, but it is true.

Let’s go through what’s happened to the Demons in the two years since then. They’ve won just six games. They were found guilty of tanking (yes, I know, the AFL called it non-guilty, but come on …) and the already cash-strapped club was subsequently fined $5m with key staff suspended. They’ve turned over virtually all key members of their administration and coaching staff. The pick they gave to Brisbane in the Clark trade, Sam Docherty (now playing for Carlton) looks to be a handy player. And now Clark has retired. The final straw.

So why is this apparently still-jilted Dockers fan bringing up Mitch Clark when he’s supposed to be writing about Lance Franklin, you may ask?

The answer is: I’ve gone and cursed the Swans.

I’ve made it very clear that I didn’t like the Swans getting Buddy because it throws out team balance and goes against the ‘Bloods culture’, plus the contract length is ridiculous. I don’t usually dish curses out like Anthony Mundine dishes out excuses, but this was a topic I felt strongly about. This time it wasn’t personal; it was just sheer frustration at the stupidity of it all.

So when the Swans lost to their cross-town baby brothers the GWS Giants in the first round of the season, and Buddy barely raised a whimper, I wasn’t surprised. The curse was already weaving its magic.

The media has been quick to jump back onto the Buddy bandwagon after his performance in the Swans’ win against Adelaide on the weekend. But I’d advise not to get ahead of yourselves with your typical short-termism, media.

There was nothing wrong with Franklin’s 20 possession, six mark, four goal game. But for a fair portion of the match he was outplayed by Adelaide defender Daniel Talia, and it was only when the floodgates started to burst for the Crows that Buddy started to get on top of his rival. Plus, the 0-3 Crows seem to be a long distance away from the team that finished second at the end of the 2012 home and away season.

There’s no doubt that a Buddy at his best is a spectacular thing. His goal in the third quarter where he dodged and weaved around Talia was a reminder of why he’s one of the league’s best and most exciting players.

He’s great for the game, but not good for the Swans. And that’s why they’ve been cursed, and why, unfortunately for them, they’re doomed to a period of misery and failure.


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Gary Ausbruch

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