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A PRICE FOR BEING ADAM GOODES by Whispering Jack

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Adam Goodes first came to my notice during the TAC Cup finals of 1997. It was a year in which Melbourne, having performed miserably, had finished last and was about to receive the first pick in the AFL Draft. The 17 year old Goodes starred for the North Ballarat Rebels kicking six goals in a best on ground performance against the Dandenong Stingrays. All eyes that day had been on Travis Johnstone, a Stingray player described as the "Rolls Royce" of that year's draft pool.

I was overseas in New York at the time of the draft, the internet was just starting to take off and there was nowhere to simply log on and find out who was selected. It took until we embarked on the Qantas flight from LA and I was offered a copy of a day old Australian newspaper that I finally discovered that Melbourne got the Roller and I was equally surprised that Goodes had been drafted by Sydney with a pick as low as No. 43 overall - their third round draft pick.

It was an inspired selection but also a clever one. In those days, clubs could only select one 17 year old player. The Swans had selected Jason Saddington with their first pick and waited for others to make their selections, allowing them to take the last of the 17 year olds with such a low choice.

It was another year and a half before Goodes would make his debut senior appearance after spending 1998 in the reserves. When he finally made his debut, he quickly leapt ahead of the rest of the pack of his young contemporaries and in the end outlasted all of them (Chad Cornes who retired two years ago came closest to him in longevity). He was the last Rising Star of the last century and he went on to hold an elite place in VFL/AFL history as a dual Brownlow Medallist, dual premiership player, four-time All-Australian and a member of the Indigenous Team of the Century. He also holds the record for the most games played for an Indigenous player - 372 games. He also kicked 464 goals and his playing achievements include:-

* 2 AFL Premierships (2005, 2012)
* 2 Brownlow Medals (2003, 2006)
* 3 Bob Skilton Medals (2003, 2006, 2011)
* 4 times All Australian (2003, 2006, 2009, 2011)
* 3 times Sydney leading goalkicker (2009, 2010, 2011)
* AFL Rising Star 1999
* Indigenous Team of the Century

But that's not all ...

When I arrived home from the States, my family had taped the AFL's draft and when I got around to watching it, I was taken as much by the small snippets of the Goodes family as I was by Melbourne's Rolls Royce pick up and the others like Nathan Brown and Guy Rigoni who were taken with later picks and who also turned out to be good players with the Demons.

Of course, their careers all paled into insignificance next to that of Goodes, the shy awkward looking young kid whose family was a single parent family with three young boys (the father had long ago drifted away interstate).

His mother's story was one of deprivation, much like that of many of her indigenous contemporaries but how proud must Lisa May Goodes have been that day when her son Adam was chosen to play in the country's highest sporting competition?

How proud must she have been to see him achieve those many honours in the almost two decades that followed?

And how proud must she have been that her son did not stop at achieving on the football field but that he stood up for the rights of his people and was named Australian of the Year in 2014 for his community work through the Go Foundation and advocacy against racism?

We can never divorce ourselves from who we are. Adam Goodes did for his people the best that he could and much more than anyone could have expected on that day eighteen years ago when he picked to play for the Sydney Swans but he also paid a price for being Adam Goodes.

You see, we all have our flaws and the same goes for kings, prime ministers and sporting heroes. Both on and off the field, a player can do things that might not please all.

And the crowd can boo you if it likes, for the odd act or mistake that you might later regret, they can be angry that you've stood up for what you believe in, that you've achieved more in a single day than they have in their dreary, miserable lifetimes. They paid their admittance so they can even boo and then feign indignation that you had the gall to react to racism in your work place.

But when they do it constantly and incessantly and let others who do much the same and in many cases far worse off the hook, then it's something else altogether.

Goodes said the fan's offensive remarks had shocked him.

"I was just like, really? Wow could that happen?"

"I don't know if it's the lowest point in my career, but personally I've never been more hurt.

"It felt like I was in high school again being bullied. I dont think Ive ever been more hurt by someone calling me a name. Not just by what was said, by who it came from."

...

Goodes later revealed the girl had called him to apologise. He tweeted: "Just received a phone call from a young girl apologizing for her actions. Lets support her please #racismitstopswithme #IndigenousRound."


The price that the Sydney Swans paid for Adam Goodes was pick 43 in a long ago national draft. They received great value for their choice.

All of us did.

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As a rule our Special Features usually stick to things Melbourne but we at Demonland believe strongly that Adam Goodes deserves a special tribute for his great career, for what he has done not just for our original Australians but for all of Australia and also for what he has had unfortunately to endure in the twilight of his days as a player in our great game ...

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#: 3   Posted (edited)

Really excellent words, WJ, and with true perspective. As I posted on the AG retires thread, I have no doubt history will treat him as the truly emblematic figure in our game for our time. A representative of indigenous football, and the catalyst of a racially respectful future for Australian sport. When I look through your detailing of his career achievements, I'm still struck by how perfectly he represents our game from a cultural perspective. I see him as the true evolution of the indigenous kids that Tom Wills played Marngrook with in Western Victoria, or the 'All Aboriginal' Australian cricket team that the alcoholic TW managed before they toured England without him.

In that future, the more negative reception he has latterly received will be a thankfully distant embarrassment. However, old habits die hard, and the men and women who expose those redundant habits at their own risk also create legacies that stand.

Edited by Webber

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