Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin’s journey to become one of the AFL’s top five goal kickers of all-time

On Saturday afternoon 23 July Sydney key forward Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin kicked three goals against Adelaide in Round 19, 2022 at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) to increase his career tally to 1,033 goals and move up to fifth place on the Australian Football League’s (AFL’s) all-time goal kicking list.

With five minutes and 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter of Sydney’s Round 19 game against Adelaide Franklin marked a pass from Sydney midfielder Chad Warner just inside the boundary, 30 metres out from goal in the right forward pocket. Franklin ran around to open up the angle and with a left foot snap kicked his second goal of the game and 1,032nd of his career to move past Gary Ablett senior into outright fifth place on the AFL’s all-time goal kicking list. In a Round 2 Friday night game this year against Geelong at the SCG Buddy kicked the 1,000th goal of his career with a set-shot after marking a pass from Chad Warner.

Franklin kicking a goal for Sydney at the MCG against Essendon in Round 16, 2022 on 2 July

Franklin celebrating after kicking a goal for Sydney at the MCG against Essendon in Round 16, 2022 on 2 July

As a key forward left-footer Franklin is an extremely difficult match-up, combining his size – being 199 centimetres tall and weighing 106 kilograms with phenomenal athleticism that has rarely if ever been seen previously in VFL/AFL history for a player of his size.

At the 2004 National Draft Hawthorn selected Franklin with pick 5. Buddy made his AFL debut at 18 years of age in Round 1 2005 against Sydney at the SCG, he received a Rising Star nomination in Round 4. In nine seasons with Hawthorn Franklin led the club’s goal kicking in six consecutive seasons from 2007 to 2012 and won the Coleman Medal as the league’s leading goal kicker in 2008 and 2011. During 2008 Franklin achieved the significant feat of kicking 100 goals in a season and was rewarding for his exceptional 113 goal season by winning the Peter Crimmins Medal as Hawthorn best and fairest in their premiership season. Buddy played in a second Hawthorn premiership in 2013, his final season at the club. In nine seasons at Hawthorn Franklin played 182 games and kicked 580 goals.  

At the end of the 2013 season Franklin joined the Sydney Swans as a free agent and signed a lucrative nine year contract with the club from 2014 to the current 2022 season. At Sydney Franklin has won the Coleman Medal twice – 2014 and 2017, he has been Sydney’s leading goal kicker in six seasons – 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2021. Sydney have made the finals in six of Franklin’s eight completed seasons with the club and were defeated in the 2012 and 2016 Grand Finals. Franklin is leading Sydney’s goal kicking after Round 20 of the 2022 season and the fourth placed Swans are almost certain to make the finals. For Sydney Buddy has played 153 games and kicked 456 goals.

Franklin has kicked more than 50 goals in a season 12 times and has won the Coleman Medal four times – 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2017. Buddy has been selected in the All-Australian team eight times including 2018 when he was named captain. Franklin ranks equal fourth with Leigh Matthews on the AFL’s all-time list for most goals in finals with 72 goals and needs seven more goals to overtake Jason Dunstall and move up to second place. Buddy is one of eight indigenous players to play 300 AFL games, with this select group including two of his former teammates – Shaun Burgoyne at Hawthorn and Adam Goodes at Sydney.

Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin’s magnificent AFL career with Hawthorn and Sydney is comprehensively covered below.

Early life and junior career

Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin was born in Perth on 30 January 1987 and grew up in Dowerin, a town approximately 150 kilometres north-east of Perth, Western Australia. Lance’s dad, Lance senior played field hockey for both Victoria and Western Australia whilst his mum Ursula was an accomplished netballer. Buddy has four siblings, all sisters – Katherine, Rechelle, Bree and Bianca. Lance senior gave his son the nickname ‘Buddy’ to avoid confusion. Bianca played elite level netball as a goal shooter and goal attack in the Commonwealth Bank Trophy and the ANZ Championship.

During an interview on NITV in June 2021 Tony Armstrong asked Buddy “You’re a Whadjuk-Noongar man, how immersed in your culture are you?” Buddy responded “Super immersed, I think. No doubt, I am a proud indigenous man. I’m a Noongar, I’m from Western Australia. Our culture is one of the longest living cultures in the world, so I’m super proud to be an indigenous man. And we as a culture have been through a lot, and we still are going through a lot. So yeah, I’m just super proud.”

During an interview with David King on Fox Footy program On the Mark in August 2019 Buddy reflected on his junior football career, commenting “I first rocked up to it was called back then nippers (the equivalent to Auskick today) when I was about five years of age. They knocked me back, said I was too small, come back the next year and I think mum was pretty happy with that. Came back when I was six years of age and fell in love with the game of football from that day forward.” On his junior football Franklin said “I was ruckman, I think most kids that are coming through that are pretty talented usually play in the ruck so that is what I was doing back then, just run around and have fun. Some great memories from junior age football for sure.” 

Although Franklin grew up in Western Australia he supported the Melbourne Football Club in the AFL. On the 24 May 2013 episode of the Marngrook Footy Show Franklin commented “People I looked up to were Adam Goodes, Andrew McLeod, little Jeffrey Farmer, absolute superstar, one of the best forward line players I have ever seen.”   

As a junior Buddy was a talented football player, at 15 years of age he received a sports scholarship and moved from Dowerin to become a boarder at Perth’s Wesley College. During 2003 and 2004 Franklin was a member of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)/AFL Academy. At the 2004 AFL Under 18 National Championships Buddy represented Western Australia, and showed that he was able to rise for the big moments as he “kicked the winning goal in the dying seconds against Victoria Metropolitan to help give his side a two-point victory at Skilled Stadium.”1 Franklin was also named in Western Australia’s best players and kicked a goal in his state’s games against South Australia and Vic Country at the 2004 AFL Under 18 National Championships. During 2004 Franklin made his senior debut for Perth in the West Australian Football League (WAFL).

Drafted by Hawthorn and first two AFL seasons in 2005 and 2006

Hawthorn had four wins and 18 losses during the 2004 Australian Football League (AFL) season to finish 15th out of 16 clubs, percentage ahead of last placed Richmond and one game and percentage behind the 14th placed Western Bulldogs. Due to the bottom three clubs winning five games or less in 2004 they all received a priority pick at the 2004 National Draft. This resulted in Richmond having draft picks 1 and 4, Hawthorn having draft picks 2 and 5 and the Western Bulldogs having selections 3 and 6. During the trade period Hawthorn traded key forward Nathan Thompson to the Kangaroos for draft picks 10 and 26. Thompson played 121 games for Hawthorn from 1998 to 2004 and in his last four seasons with the club wore number 23. In another deal Hawthorn traded picks 10 and 37 to Collingwood for picks 7 and Bo Nixon. Hawthorn entered the 2004 National Draft with three top 10 picks – picks 2, 5 and 7.

Alastair Clarkson was in his first season as head coach of Hawthorn in 2005. Clarkson played 134 VFL/AFL games as an on-baller comprised of 93 games for North Melbourne from 1987 to 1995 and 41 games for Melbourne from 1996 to 1997. Clarkson had experience as a head coach in the VFL with Werribee in 2000 and in the SANFL with Central District in 2001 and 2002 with the club winning the SANFL premiership in his first season as coach. Clarkson had also been an AFL assistant coach with St Kilda in 1999 and with Port Adelaide in 2003 and 2004 with the club winning the premiership in the latter season.

Four-time Hawthorn premiership player Gary Buckenara was the Hawks head of recruiting in 2004. During a feature interview published on on 17 March 2022 Buckenara spoke about a meeting late in 2004 where Clarkson expressed his views on how Hawthorn should utilise their first three draft picks “He said: ‘With the first three picks, I’d like to get two key positioners and a midfielder … if that’s possible’.”2 Buckenara recalled. 

In the article Buckenara spoke about the first time he watched Franklin play for a West Australian Under 18s team against an open-age team of amateur and country players, commenting “He started at centre-half forward, but he kicked five goals in the first quarter and basically buggered the game for everyone else. They put him to centre-half back just so he didn’t destroy them completely. I thought, ‘gee this kid has some talent’. He was as skinny as a rake, but he was athletic, quick, tall. He was very left-sided, but he had some freakish ability. We continued to watch him through those years, he developed and he always stood up when he needed to stand up. He put enough runs on the board to be one of the top-10 draft picks.”3

Before the 2014 National Draft Hawthorn’s recruiting department reached a consensus that the top two key forwards available in the draft were Jarryd Roughead and Franklin but to have any chance of drafting both players the Hawks had to draft in a strategic fashion. Buckenara told “We pretty much knew Richmond was going to go with Brett Deledio with pick No.1 and we later found out that Jarryd Roughead was probably going to be their pick at No.4. We heard on the grape vine that they weren’t all that impressed with Buddy, with his interview and they thought he might have struggled a bit off-field with his over-confidence maybe. In the end, we knew we wouldn’t get Roughead at pick No.5 … but we were a chance to get Buddy there. So we took the plan to take Roughead at No.2 and, in the end, Richmond picked Richard Tambling at No.4 and that allowed us to go with Buddy at No.5.”4

As expected Richmond selected midfielder Brett Deledio with the number one pick at the 2004 National Draft on 20 November at the Melbourne Park Function Centre. Hawthorn stuck to their plan of selecting Roughead with pick 2 and with the following selection the Western Bulldogs chose midfielder Ryan Griffin with pick 3. After achieving their desired outcome of selecting Roughead at pick 2 and Franklin with pick 5 Hawthorn utilised third selection in the top 10 to select midfielder Jordan Lewis at pick 7. Roughead and Lewis had been teammates playing for Vic Country at under age National Championships. The trio of Roughead, Franklin and Lewis played a key role in Hawthorn becoming a powerhouse of the AFL with all three becoming All-Australians and playing in multiple premierships for the club.

Franklin’s profile in AFL Record Guide to Season 2005 said “Strong, left-footed key position player who rose to prominence in draft calculations because of his combination of size, pace, agility and sharp skills.”5 At the time of being selected at the 2014 Draft as a 17 year old Franklin was 196 centimetres tall and weighed 90 kilograms. In his debut AFL season Franklin wore number 38 for Hawthorn.

In Round 1, 2005 at 18 years and 57 days of age Franklin made his AFL debut for Hawthorn against the Sydney Swans at the SCG, he had six disposals, five inside 50’s and was scoreless in the 63 point loss to Sydney. The following week in a 14 point loss to Richmond at the MCG Buddy had eight kicks, four handballs, four marks, kicked three goals and polled one Brownlow Medal vote. Roughead and Lewis made their AFL debut’s for Hawthorn in Round 3.

Hawthorn’s 2004 top 10 draft pick trio of Franklin, Roughead and Lewis all played in their first AFL victory in Hawthorn’s 46 point defeat of Brisbane at the MCG in Round 4 on 10 April. In the Hawks victory Franklin had eight kicks, six marks, six handballs and kicked a goal to receive an AFL Rising Star nomination. Hawthorn’s Round 4, 2005 side included five players with between 35 and 55 AFL games that would go on to be premiership players with Hawthorn in 2008 – current Hawks coach Sam Mitchell (52 games), Luke Hodge (48), Chance Bateman (45), Campbell Brown (43) and Mark Williams (36).

Three Hawks received Rising Star nominations in 2005 with Lewis and Roughead being nominated in Round 11 and 19 respectively. Franklin played 20 of a possible 22 AFL games for Hawthorn in his debut 2005 season and kicked 21 goals, 13 behinds, ranked third at the Hawks behind Williams (63 goals) and Ben Dixon (29).

For his second AFL season in 2006 Franklin wore the number 23 jumper for the Hawks. Notable players to have worn number 23 for Hawthorn previously included the club’s first ever Coleman Medal winner John Peck, ruckman Don Scott who captained the club for five seasons from 1976 to 1980 and was the first Hawthorn player to reach 300 games and centre-half forward Dermott Brereton who played in five premierships and was a noted big-game performer.

As a junior player Franklin wore number 23. During an interview on channel ten in 2008 Luke Darcy asked “Number 23, we saw you wear it as a junior, why the number 23?” Franklin replied “I just love the number 23 because all the good players wear it, Michael Jordan, Warney, I just like 23 mate, its great and Dermie wore it too, I‘ll put that in there.”

Buddy commenced 2006 in the Victorian Football League (VFL) after missing the first two rounds with an ankle injury, he also missed Round 7 due to a hand injury and made his first AFL appearance for the year in Round 9. In his first 23 AFL games Franklin kicked a total of 22 goals at an average of 0.96 goals per game. During this time Franklin kicked multiple goals in a game six times with a career best of three goals against Richmond in his second AFL game. In his 24th AFL game Franklin kicked his first bag of goals in the league, kicking six goals straight in Round 12, 2006 at University of Tasmania Stadium (also known as York Park), Launceston, again it was Richmond on the receiving end. In Hawthorn’s 41 point victory against Richmond Buddy had 12 kicks, four handballs and polled two Brownlow Medal votes.

At the MCG in Hawthorn’s 23 point victory against Carlton in Round 19, 2006 Franklin kicked a team-high six goals, two behinds, had nine kicks, two handballs and took seven marks including six inside 50. Carlton key forward Brendan Fevola kicked eight goals, three behinds against Hawthorn. The umpires adjudged Franklin and Fevola as the two best players on the ground with Fevola polling two Brownlow Medal votes and Franklin receiving the maximum three votes for the first time of his career in game number 31. From Round 9 onwards Buddy played 14 consecutive AFL games to finish the 2006 season, he kicked multiple goals in a game eight times and twice kicked six goals in a game. Franklin played a total of 34 games from 2005-2006, averaging 10.9 disposals and 1.5 goals per game. After winning five games in 2005 and finishing 14th, Hawthorn improved to finish 11th in 2006 with nine wins, four games behind the Western Bulldogs in eighth place.

Franklin has a breakout 2007 season to lead Hawthorn’s goal kicking for the first time

Left-footers typical prefer to kick from the right-hand side of the ground, however Buddy is an exception, preferring to kick from the left-hand side of the ground. Franklin doesn’t have your typical run-up either, arcing to the left as runs in, his kick then usually went from right to left.

In September 2017 Franklin featured on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine and a pre-season training session early in his career was recalled in which Buddy amazed his teammates with his running ability. During the training session Franklin competed in 22 sprints of 150 metres against Hawthorn’s best runners including 1999 Brownlow Medallist Shane Crawford. Hawthorn’s Elite Performance Manager Andrew ‘Jack’ Russell recalled “The guys took it in turns to challenge him on different reps but he won every single one.”6

Across his first two seasons Franklin kicked more than three goals in a game twice. During 2007 Buddy took his football to a new stratosphere to kick more than three goals in a game nine times including hauls of six goals against the Western Bulldogs in Round 5 to poll two Brownlow Medal votes and nine goals against Essendon in Round 7 to poll three Brownlow Medal votes. These were the only two games that Franklin polled votes in, finishing 2007 with five votes.

On his break-out 2007 season and Hawthorn’s improvement Franklin told Fox Footy program On the Mark in August 2019 “You come in playing key position for a team that is on the bottom of the ladder, it was always going to take a few years to really find my feet. Obviously me and Roughy were up there as a key position at 17 and 18 years of age. It probably took three years and then after three years you sort of build confidence, you are working out your teammates, you’re training with them constantly, you’re getting that connection with the midfielders and also working with another tall forward, you can work around each other. Once we got that down pat then the games rolled in, we knew we had full confidence in what we were doing as a footy club and everything would work out when we were 21.”

From Round 11 to Round 19 2007 Franklin kicked at least four goals in a game in six of his seven games. Buddy emerged during the 2007 season and was influential in Hawthorn rising up the ladder to finish fifth at the end of the 2007 home and away season with 13 wins to be one game ahead of the eighth placed Adelaide Crows who they played in an elimination final at Marvel Stadium. In Hawthorn’s first final since 2001 Franklin delivered a breath-taking best afield performance for a young Hawks team against an experienced Adelaide outfit. Franklin had 11 kicks, one handball, seven marks and kicked seven goals including the match winning set-shot goal from 52 metres out on the left half-forward flank in the last 30 seconds of the game to take Hawthorn from three points behind to three points in front. Buddy was the first player to kick at least seven goals in a final since Alastair Lynch kicked seven goals for Brisbane in their 2002 qualifying final victory against Adelaide at the Gabba.

The following week North Melbourne defeated Hawthorn by 33 points in a semi final at the MCG. Franklin reached 50 goals in a season for the first time in 2007 – kicking 73 goals and averaged 13.3 disposals per game. Franklin led Hawthorn’s goal kicking for the first time in 2007 and kicked 63 goals in the home and away season to finish third in the Coleman Medal behind Brisbane key forward Jonathan Brown (77 goals) and Fremantle key forward Matthew Pavlich (72). Buddy finished equal sixth in Hawthorn’s 2007 best and fairest to record his first top 10 finish and was named in the All-Australian squad of 40 but was left out of the final 22 player team.

Coleman Medal winning 2008 season with 113 goals

In each of Buddy’s first five games of 2008 he kicked at least four goals, amassing a total of 29 goals in this period. Against Brisbane at the Gabba in Round 5 Franklin had a game-high 17 kicks, three handballs, took an equal game-high nine marks, a team-high 10 contested possessions, took a game-high four contested marks and kicked eight goals six behinds in the Hawks 12 point victory. After Hawthorn led by two points at three quarter time Buddy kicked three of the next four goals of the game in a best afield performance, polling the three Brownlow Medal votes.

At Marvel Stadium in Round 11 against Essendon Franklin had an equal game-high 16 kicks along with Bateman, two handballs, took a team-high 10 marks, had an equal team-high 12 contested possessions, took a game-high five contested marks and kicked a season-high nine goals and five behinds in Hawthorn’s 51 point victory to poll the three Brownlow medal votes.  Entering the 2008 season Franklin had played a total of 56 AFL games and had kicked at least six goals in a game six times. In the first half of the 2008 home and away season Franklin played all 11 games for Hawthorn, kicked at least six goals in a game six times and amassed a total of 59 goals during this scintillating 11 game stretch.  

During 2008 Franklin polled the maximum three votes in a game four times, also being judged best afield for a 21 disposal, 12 mark and eight goal performance against Collingwood in Round 18 at the MCG and an 18 disposal, six goal game against Brisbane at University of Tasmania Stadium in Round 19.

With one game remaining in Hawthorn’s 2008 home and away season Franklin had kicked 98 goals to lead the Coleman Medal by six goals from Carlton full-forward Brendan Fevola and the Coleman Medal was set for a thrilling conclusion with Hawthorn playing Carlton in the final round at Marvel Stadium. Against Carlton Franklin kicked a set-shot goal from 40 metres out on a slight angle to increase his season tally to 99 goals with four minutes remaining in the first quarter. Franklin marked a pass from Cyril Rioli in the forward pocket and kicked a set-shot goal on his preferred left foot to register his 100th goal of the season with one minute and 40 seconds to play in the first term. As was tradition for this milestone thousands of people from the crowd went out onto the ground and ran towards Buddy after he kicked his 100th goal. After several minutes security guards surrounded Franklin and took him down the players’ race. After the crowd had left the field of play and Franklin went back up the players’ race he commented to channel 10 boundary rider Mark Howard on reaching 100 goals “It was obviously good to get it out of the way in the first quarter, excited to get back out there amongst the boys, it will be a good night.” Howard asked can you believe the crowd, they were all over you, it was like you were Mick Jagger?” Buddy responded “It was an unbelievable experience.”

Franklin finished the game against Carlton with four goals to end the 2008 home and away season on 102 goals. Fevola who is usually a very reliable shot at goal was down on accuracy in the first half including hitting the post in the first quarter. Fevola didn’t kick his first goal of the game until early in the third quarter but finished the game strongly to kick seven goals to end the home and away season on 99 goals, three behind Franklin. Franklin at just 21 years of age became the fifth Hawthorn player to win the Coleman Medal for leading the league for goals kicked during the home and away season, joining John Peck (three Coleman Medals – 1963, 1964 and 1965), Peter Hudson (four – 1968, 1970, 1971 and 1977), Leigh Matthews (one – 1975) and Jason Dunstall (three – 1988, 1989 and 1992).  

Hawthorn recorded 17 wins and five losses during the 2008 home and away season to finish second, four games behind Geelong who won the minor premiership and were the reigning premiers, having won the 2007 Grand Final by the greatest winning margin of all-time – 119 points against Port Adelaide.

Franklin starred in Hawthorn’s 51 point qualifying final win against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG with 11 kicks, one handball, seven marks, including four marks inside 50 an equal game-high four contested marks and kicked a game-high eight goals. Buddy’s bag of eight goals was the equal most goals kicked in a final this century along with one of his idols, small forward Jeff Farmer who kicked eight goals for Melbourne in their 2000 preliminary final victory against North Melbourne.

In the preliminary final Hawthorn were a class above St Kilda, winning by 54 points to progress to the Hawks first Grand Final since 1991. Despite having had only 11 scoring shots at half-time of the 2008 Grand Final Hawthorn led by three points over Geelong who registered an inaccurate six goals and 12 behinds. Hawthorn kicked six goals to three in the third quarter to gain the ascendancy and set up a 26 point win and Hawthorn’s 10th premiership. In the 2008 Grand Final victory Franklin had seven kicks, five handballs, four marks, two goal assists and kicked two goals.

During the 24 May 2013 episode of the Marngrook Footy Show Franklin spoke about his career highlights and commented “Obviously the (2008) Grand Final was something that you play football for. To get that opportunity to play in a Grand Final and to win was something that I will look back on at the end of my career and I will be absolutely blown away by it. It is just so hard to actually win a premiership and get yourself in that position, being so young, 21 and winning a premiership as I did then you sort of take it for granted. But that was five years ago now, so I will be firing my best to hopefully win one this year.”

Franklin had a dream 2008 season, well and truly announcing himself as a superstar of the competition, the profile for Franklin in AFL Prospectus 2009 said “Last year Franklin became the first player to score 100 goals in a H & A season since Tony Lockett in 1998 and the youngest to do so since Lockett in 1987. He produced one of the best seasons by a forward in recent times as he was able to completely dominate the forward arc. His tally of 242 disposals inside 50 was 42 more than any other player, while he led the competition in total marks inside 50, contested marks inside 50 and groundball-gets inside 50, a remarkable achievement in itself.”7 Franklin ranked second in the AFL for contested marks in 2008 behind St Kilda key forward Nick Riewoldt. During 2008 Franklin averaged 15.3 disposals and 4.5 goals per game, he had 201 scoring shots for the year, kicking 113 goals and 88 behinds. In the 14 years since from 2009 to 2022 no-one has reached the milestone of kicking 100 goals in a season. The highest Coleman Medal winning tally during this period has been Brendon Fevola with 86 goals in 2009.

Franklin was named in the All-Australian team for the first time in 2008, being named at full-forward, he was joined in the team by one Hawthorn team-mate – Luke Hodge at half-back. Franklin won the Hawks 2008 best and fairest with 216 votes, 39 votes ahead of runner-up Sam Mitchell, with Hodge finishing third on 175 votes and Roughead fourth on 172 votes. Franklin ranked second at Hawthorn for kicks with 308 – just five behind Mitchell, third for marks, fifth for hardball gets and first for Brownlow Medal votes with 20, however due to being suspended Franklin was ineligible, Western Bulldogs midfielder Adam Cooney won the Brownlow with 24 votes. In the 2008 AFL Players’ Association Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award Franklin polled 718 votes to be the runner-up behind Geelong midfielder Gary Ablett junior who polled 1,088 votes to win the award for the second season in a row. In the ALF Coaches Association Champion Player of the Year Award Franklin polled 87 votes and finished in second place, five votes behind Gary Ablett Junior.

The 2008 Coleman Medal article in the AFL Record Season Guide 2009 said “It was Franklin’s unique armoury of weapons that had commentators and spectators everywhere reaching for superlatives. In just his fourth season and just 21, Franklin terrorised opposition defenders, who might have been able to counter him on the lead, in marking contests or at ground level – but not all three.”8

Hawthorn had a disappointing 2009, only winning nine games for the season to finish in ninth position, six premiership points and percentage behind Essendon in eighth place. The Hawks improved to finish seventh in 2010, losing an elimination final in Perth against Fremantle and re-emerged as a premiership contender in 2011. Franklin led Hawthorn’s goal kicking in 2009 with 67 goals and in 2010 with 64 goals. Buddy was one of Hawthorn’s most consistent performers over this two-season period to finish third in Hawthorn’s 2009 best and fairest followed by a second placed finish in 2010.

Franklin was a nominee in the 40 player All-Australian squad in 2009 and was named at centre half-forward in the 2010 All-Australian team. In Round 13, 2010 against Essendon at the MCG Franklin kicked the Goal of the Year. From half-back Lewis passed to Franklin on the lead, in a marking contest on the wing Essendon defender Cale Hooker got his right hand to the ball. The ball deflected and went to the back of the marking contest, Buddy gathered the ball five metres in from the boundary with Hooker in pursuit. Running towards goal Franklin went closer to the boundary line and took his third bounce just before he got inside Hawthorn’s 50. Buddy settled and had a shot at goal on the run, 40 metres out, half a metre inside the boundary line in the left forward pocket with Hooker a few metres behind him. Franklin kicked an exhilarating goal which went straight over the umpire’s head. Franklin’s magnificent goal levelled the scores at 79 apiece with 14 minutes and five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Hawthorn went on to defeat Essendon by 16 points with Franklin polling the three Brownlow Medal votes for a brilliant all-round performance in which he had 17 kicks, nine handballs, took a game-high 10 marks, had an equal game-high seven inside 50’s, 13 contested possessions, took a game-high five bounces and kicked a game-high five goals.

Buddy wins his second Coleman Medal in 2011

During the 2011 home and away season Hawthorn won 18 games to finish third, two games behind minor premiers Collingwood and one game behind second placed Geelong. After being 17 points in front at three-quarter time of their preliminary final against Collingwood at the MCG Hawthorn were well placed to make the Grand Final however Collingwood fought back to hit the lead at the 19 minute mark of the last quarter. Franklin responded by kicking a spectacular dribble goal from the boundary line in the right forward pocket to put the Hawks in front by four points, however Collingwood midfielder Luke Ball responded by snapping a goal to secure a three point win for Collingwood and end Hawthorn’s season.

In 2011 Franklin had his best season since 2008 to win his second Coleman Medal. The profile for Franklin in AFL Prospectus 2012 said “Franklin was the No. 1 ranked forward in the competition last season, leading the league for scoreboard impact and booting 82 goals – the second-highest tally of his career. As expected he was the most used forward 50 target in the AFL, used for 26% of Hawthorn’s kicks to a target inside 50. He ranked No. 1 for disposals and marks in this zone and his versatility was unmatched as he was the only player in the competition to rank in the top 10 for both forward 50 marks and groundball-gets. He was kept goalless just once, booting at least three goals in all but four games and was involved in 36% of scoring chains – the highest percentage of any player in the AFL.”9 Despite missing three games Buddy kicked 71 goals during the 2011 home and away season to win the Coleman Medal by nine goals from Jack Riewoldt and Travis Cloke. Franklin polled 20 votes at the 2011 Brownlow Medal to equal his career-best tally set in 2008 to be the eighth highest vote-getter however he was ineligible due to receiving a one game suspension. For the third time of his career Franklin earnt All-Australian selection in 2011, being named at full-forward, he was joined in the team by one Hawthorn teammate, Sam Mitchell who was named as the centreman.

Franklin earns All-Australian selection in 2012 and kicks a career-high 13 goals in a game

Buddy set a new career-high for most goals in a game against North Melbourne with 13 goals in Round 10, 2012 at University of Tasmania Stadium. Buddy kicked his first goal at the end of the first quarter and added five second term goals to go to the half-time break with six goals. Franklin kicked two goals in the first two minutes of the third quarter and added a third for the term with 13 minutes and 35 seconds remaining to equal his career best of nine goals in a game. Half-way through the third quarter Franklin kicked a set-shot goal from 50 metres out on a 45 degree angle on the left half-forward flank to register his 10th goal. Early in the last quarter Buddy kicked his 11th goal, again from a set-shot 50 metres out on the left side of the ground but this time close to the boundary line. Franklin finished with a flurry, receiving a handball from Jordan Lewis on the left side of the ground and running to kick a skilful snap goal on his preferred left-foot 40 metres out and only a few metres in from the boundary with one minute to play. In the last play of the game Franklin was in a marking contest on the right hand side of the ground, the ball landed just short of him, he picked the ball up with seconds left, took a couple of steps and snapped on his left foot whilst a North Melbourne defender tried to smother the ball, Franklin’s shot from 30 metres out went through for a goal whilst television commentator Anthony Hudson said “thirteen, THIRTEEEEEEN, can you believe it, he has kicked thirteen on the siren.” As well his career best 13 goals Franklin finished the Round 10 game against North Melbourne with an equal game-high and career-high 22 kicks, one handball, took a game-high 11 marks, took an equal game-high four contested marks, laid six tackles and polled three Brownlow Medal votes in an exhilarating performance.

Hawthorn won the 2012 minor premiership with 17 wins, percentage ahead of Adelaide in second position and one win ahead of Sydney and Collingwood in third and fourth position respectively. After defeating their nemesis from the previous season – Collingwood by 38 points in a qualifying final the Hawks progressed to a home preliminary final against Adelaide and won a thrilling free-flowing contest by five points.

Hawthorn went into their 2012 Grand Final against Sydney as favourites, however just like their previous Grand Final in 2008 the underdogs prevailed. Sydney were far more accurate in front of goal – kicking 14 goals, seven behinds to defeat Hawthorn who kicked 11 goals 15 behinds, by 10 points. Franklin polled five votes in the Norm Smith Medal to finish equal third with Dan Hannebery, Ryan O’Keefe won the award with 12 votes and Brad Sewell finished second with seven votes. There were varying opinions on Franklin’s game as whilst there were ample positives including 24 disposals – ranked second for Hawthorn, eight marks, six tackles, a game-high seven inside 50’s, 13 contested possessions, four contested marks and a game-high three goals, he had also been inaccurate in front of goal, also kicking four behinds. Whilst Franklin may have missed one or two goals that he should have kicked which led to some people downgrading his game, the other side of the equation also needs to be considered – he provided tremendous drive for Hawthorn with his hard running and he kicked a third quarter goal from 65 metres out on the left half-forward flank which only a handful of players in the competition would have kicked. In each of Hawthorn’s three finals in 2012 Buddy kicked at least three goals and had at least 18 disposals.

During 2012 Franklin played 19 games for Hawthorn and kicked 69 goals and 64 behinds, he kicked at least three goals in a game 14 times and more than five goals in a game only once, but made the most of it with his career-high 13 goals against North Melbourne. In the 2012 All-Australian team Franklin was named at centre half-forward and was joined in the team by two fellow Hawks, Grant Birchall at half-back and Cyril Rioli at half-forward. 

Buddy plays in second premiership with Hawthorn in 2013

Against Collingwood at the MCG in Round 3, 2013 Franklin kicked Goal of the Year for the second time in his career. With Hawthorn leading by six points half-way through the third quarter Brent Guera took the kick-out from Collingwood’s goal square and kicked a torpedo which was marked by Ben Stratton just 10 metres short of the centre of the ground. As Stratton was tackled on edge of the centre circle on Hawthorn’s side he handballed to Franklin who grabbed the ball and immediately jumped over Stratton and the tackler. Buddy landed on his right foot, took two steps and then kicked on his left foot 70 metres out from goal, the ball landed in the goal square seven metres out from goal and bounced through for an incredible goal. Franklin finished with four goals for the game and Hawthorn defeated Collingwood by 55 points.    

In 2013 Hawthorn won their second minor premiership in a row, recording 19 wins and three losses to finish one win ahead of Geelong. Franklin was out of contract at the end of 2013 and there had been considerable speculation that he would change clubs at the end of season, possibly moving to the AFL’s newest club – the Greater Western Sydney Giants. Franklin spent less time inside forward 50 and more time up the ground during 2013, partly so that Hawthorn weren’t as predictable and partly to ready themselves in case he changed clubs, making the Hawks transition to life after Buddy easier. Hawthorn easily accounted for Sydney by 54 points in the qualifying final at the MCG and won their preliminary final against Geelong by just five points after having 32 scoring shots to 22. Hawthorn led Fremantle by 23 points at half-time in the Grand Final and withstood a Fremantle third quarter fight-back to win by 15 points. Spending considerable time playing up the ground Franklin had nine kicks, nine handballs, six marks, five inside 50’s and kicked a goal in Hawthorn’s 2013 Grand Final victory.

Franklin kicked 60 goals from 21 games in 2013 and kicked at least three goals in a game 10 times with a season best of eight goals against Essendon in Round 18 at the MCG to poll three Brownlow Medal votes. Roughead led Hawthorn and the AFL’s goalkicking after finals with 72 goals. Roughead won the 2013 Coleman Medal with 68 goals at the end of the home and away season, Franklin finished fifth with 58 goals. Franklin was nominated in the All-Australian squad of 40 players but missed out on selection in the 22 player team.

Franklin joins Sydney and wins the 2014 Coleman Medal

In the 2013 free-agency period the Sydney Swans made restricted free-agent Franklin a long-term contract offer. An article published on on 1 October 2013 stated “The Sydney Swans’ audacious bid to sign Hawthorn superstar Lance Franklin is centred on a staggering nine-year contract worth $10 million.”10

The second Sydney club to join the AFL – the GWS Giants also made Franklin a long-term offer over six years which although a shorter term than the Swans was a slightly higher amount per year. During the 2013 season there had been considerable talk about Franklin possibly leaving Hawthorn to join GWS, however the vast majority of people were surprised when news broke about Sydney’s long-term offer to Franklin. As Buddy preferred the Sydney Swans offer the GWS Giants withdrew their offer. As a restricted free-agent Hawthorn had the option of matching the offer Sydney had given Franklin but as was expected decided not to. Franklin’s manager Liam Pickering had contacted the Sydney Swans shortly after Hawthorn’s 2012 Grand Final loss to the Swans and informed Sydney that Franklin would like to join their club for the 2014 season and beyond. In an article published in the Herald Sun on 1 October 2013 Sydney Swans chief executive Andrew Ireland commented on the deal “We got a general sense around the end of last season he would like to play for us. The difficulty was the Kurt Tippett thing was going through and we did that, and then nothing much happened. During the season Liam indicated he was still keen to play for us if that was achievable and I guess probably over the past six to eight weeks, we had more conversations about it. It’s not very often a player of his stature actually wants to approach you on the basis he wants to play for your club. Clearly, through the discussions along the way he loves the Hawthorn football club and the fishbowl of Melbourne has taken its toll, and he wanted to get out of that.’’11

As compensation for Franklin joining Sydney as a restricted free agent Hawthorn received first round draft pick 19 which was directly pick 18 they had for being the minor premiers. Hawthorn CEO Stuart Fox commented to “We understand there are rules around free agency compensation, however we believe it is inequitable that compensation is linked to ladder position.”12

To help with marketing and attracting crowds in a non-traditional football market the Sydney Swans preference has been to have a high-profile key forward in their side. Franklin became the fourth such player to play for the club since the 1980’s, following Warwick Capper who was renowned for his spectacular marking, and two intimidating highly skilled key forwards who went on to lead Sydney’s goal kicking at least five times each after being recruited from the St Kilda Football Club – Tony ‘Plugger’ Lockett and Barry Hall. Lockett played 183 games with St Kilda, had won the Coleman Medal twice and had kicked 898 goals before joining Sydney at 28 years of age. At the time of changing clubs Franklin had also won two Coleman Medals playing for Hawthorn, had an almost identical games tally of 182 games and had kicked 580 goals when he joined Sydney at 26 years of age. The current 2022 season is the ninth and final season of Franklin’s long-term contract with Sydney.

John Longmire was in his fourth season as Sydney’s head coach in 2014. Sydney made the finals in Longmire’s first three seasons as head coach and won the premiership in 2012. Before being appointed Sydney’s head coach Longmire had been an assistant coach for ten years from 2002 to 2011 which included Sydney winning their second VFL/AFL premiership in 2005. Longmire commenced his VFL/AFL career as a full forward with North Melbourne and in his third season kicked 98 goals to win the 1990 Coleman Medal. Longmire kicked over 50 goals in a season six consecutive times from 1990 to 1995. After a knee reconstruction in 1996 Longmire was mainly utilised as a centre half-back and ruck. Longmire finished his career with 511 goals and in his 200th and final game played in North Melbourne’s 1999 premiership side.  

At Sydney Franklin was able to be teammates with one of the players he looked up to the most when he was growing up – two-time Brownlow Medallist Adam Goodes. In Round 1 2014 Franklin made his club debut for Sydney against the GWS Giants. Franklin played seven of Sydney’s first eight games of the 2014 season, missing Round 7 due to a knee injury, he kicked a total of 12 goals in this period including four goals in a game twice. After Round 9 Franklin kicked at least three goals in 13 of his 15 games with a season-best of nine goals in his 200th AFL game in Round 21 against St Kilda at the SCG. In his milestone game Franklin had 19 kicks took a game-high 13 marks including five contested marks – four more than the second ranked player in the game and polled three Brownlow Medal votes for his dominant performance in the Swans 71 point victory.

In Franklin’s first season at Sydney the Swans won the 2014 minor premiership with 17 wins to finish percentage ahead of Hawthorn and Geelong who finished second and third respectively. Sydney defeated Fremantle by 24 points in a qualifying final and then defeated North Melbourne by 61 points in a preliminary final with both finals being played at ANZ Stadium. In the Grand Final Sydney played against Franklin’s former team Hawthorn who outplayed the Swans to win by 63 points after leading by 42 points at half-time. Franklin was one of Sydney’s best players in the Grand Final, having 11 disposals, three handballs, five marks, nine contested possessions and kicked a team-high four goals.

Franklin kicked 67 goals during the 2014 home and away season to win the Coleman Medal, finishing five goals ahead of three players – Tom Hawkins, Jay Schulz and close mate and former team-mate Roughead. Franklin kicked 12 goals in his three finals for Sydney to kick a total of 79 goals for the season – the third highest tally of his career – only surpassed by his previous Coleman Medal winning seasons 2008 (113 goals) and 2011 (82 goals). Buddy polled a career best 22 Brownlow Medal votes in 2014 to finish equal second with Gary Ablett junior, four votes behind Matt Priddis (26 votes) with the ineligible Natt Fyfe polling 25 votes. Franklin finished third in Sydney’s best and fairest with 688 votes, behind midfielders Luke Parker (758 votes) and Josh Kennedy (709). Buddy was selected at full-forward in the All-Australian team and was joined in the team by three Sydney teammates – Nick Smitch in the back pocket, Nick Malceski at half-back and Kennedy as the ruck rover.

During 2014 Franklin played 22 of a possible 25 games for Sydney and averaged 16.7 disposals and 3.6 goals per game. Franklin polled 80 votes in the 2014 AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year Award to finish in fourth place behind Robbie Gray (111 votes), Nat Fyfe (95) and Sydney teammate Josh Kennedy (83). In the AFL Players’ Association MVP Award Franklin finished third with 428 votes behind Nat Fyfe (945 votes) and Gary Ablett junior (787).

The profile for Buddy in AFL Prospectus 2015 said “Franklin averaged more Champion Data ranking points per game than any other key forward in the competition last season. He booted 25% of the Swans’ goals in the games he played – the highest percentage of any player – and averaged 9.1 scoreboard involvements per match – ranked No. 1 of all key forwards. Because his offensive game is so good, his defensive game too often gets overlooked. He rated elite for tackles per game and averaged the third-most pressure points of any key forward. He was the most used forward 50 target in the competition and was involved in the third-most one-on-one contests of any player, winning 37% of those – the fifth-highest percentage of the top 50 one-on-one players.”13

Franklin leads Sydney’s goal kicking in 2015 and 2016

Franklin played 17 of Sydney’s 22 home and away games in 2015, averaging 14.7 disposals and 2.8 goals per game. Franklin missed Round 14 with suspension and four games with injury. Sydney finished fourth on the ladder, having 16 wins and six losses to finish one game behind minor premiers Fremantle, two premiership points behind second placed West Coast and percentage behind third placed Hawthorn. Franklin missed Sydney’s 2015 finals series to deal with an ongoing mental health issue. During 2015 Franklin led Sydney with 47 goals, ahead of fellow key forward Kurt Tippett and kicked at least three games in a game 11 times.

In an interview for Channel Seven’s Saturday Night Footy five days before Sydney’s opening game of the 2016 season Franklin commented about his mental health issue “It had been an issue for a little while with me, but I wasn’t able to talk about it and I was a little embarrassed about it. But for me, being able to speak to the football club, my partner and my family was the best decision I ever made.”

After having a break from football for a couple of months Franklin felt refreshed and re-energised when he returned to the Sydney Swans for pre-season training in the lead-up to the 2016 season. Sydney won the 2016 minor premiership with 17 wins and five losses, to finish percentage ahead of Geelong and Hawthorn in second and third place respectively, Franklin played all 22 games for Sydney during the home and away season. Although Sydney lost their qualifying final against the GWS Giants at the SCG by 36 points the Swans rebounded strongly to record comprehensive victories over Adelaide by 36 points in a semi final and Geelong by 37 points in a preliminary final to make the Grand Final. The Western Bulldogs after finishing the home and away season in seventh position had three upset wins in a row to make the Grand Final. After leading by two points at half-time Sydney kicked three goals to the Western Bulldogs six in the second half and were defeated by 22 points.

As a key forward Franklin is an extremely difficult match-up, combining his size – being 199 centimetres tall and weighing 106 kilograms with phenomenal athleticism that has rarely if ever been seen previously in VFL/AFL history for a player of his size. AFL Prospectus 2017 commented on Franklin’s 2016 season “As a key forward, Franklin excels most commonly in areas associated with mid-forwards. He won the second most uncontested possessions amongst key-forwards and his 8.7 score involvements ranked No. 1. He rated above average for all key measures except for contested marking.”14 


Franklin with his Sydney teammates after a victory in Round 21, 2016 against St Kilda on 13 August at Marvel Stadium

During the 2016 home and away season Franklin kicked 74 goals to finish runner-up in the Coleman Medal, six goals behind West Coast Eagles full-forward Josh Kennedy. Including finals Franklin kicked 81 goals from 26 games and Kennedy kicked 82 goals from 23 games. Buddy was named at centre half-forward in the 2016 All-Australian team and was joined by four Swans teammates – Dane Rampe in the back pocket, Dan Hannebery on the wing, Josh Kennedy in the centre and Luke Parker on the interchange. Franklin finished sixth in Sydney’s best and fairest on 827 votes, Josh Kennedy won the Bob Skilton medal with 922 votes and Dan Hannebery was the runner-up on 913 votes. Franklin married model Jesinta Campbell in early November 2016 in the Blue Mountains.

Franklin wins his fourth Coleman Medal in 2017

After kicking four goals in both of his first two games of 2017 Franklin played his 250th AFL game at 30 years of age against Collingwood at the SCG in Round 3 on 7 April 2017. At his press conference days before his 250th game Franklin commented on his milestone “My first game was at the SCG and I lined up against Adam Goodes and now I find myself back here, so it’s pretty special. It’s pretty incredible to get to 250.” When asked what the highlights of his career have been Buddy responded “The premierships and finals football, I’ve been fortunate enough to be at two incredible footy clubs that play finals footy every year.”

When asked ‘Who has been the biggest influence over your career?’ Lance replied “Probably the coaches, Alastair Clarkson and Horse (John Longmire) — they’ve taught me a lot across my journey. I’m very thankful that I’ve had two unbelievable coaches.”

In the lead-up to his 250th AFL game in April 2017 Franklin was compared to several great forwards that Sydney head-coach John Longmire had played with or against, being Wayne Carey, Jason Dunstall and Tony Lockett. In a press conference Longmire commented on the comparisons “His athleticism for his size is what makes him a really unique forward if you’re comparing eras. He gets up the ground and back and he’s so quick and such an amazing kick that he is quite unique, but he certainly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how his career pans out but to this point you’d certainly say he’s in that bracket.”

In an interview with Gerard Whateley on AFL 360 days before Franklin’s 250th game Whateley asked ”I guess if there is one man who understands your journey and your place it might be Tony Lockett, so you have been getting to know Plugger.” Franklin responded “Yeah I have, the first time I met Plugger he actually came to the (2014) best and fairest to give me my Coleman Medal. Then when Horse said he was going to come down and do some coaching once a week, not only was I excited but everyone on the list was absolutely pumped. Then to have him in the change rooms before a game, before you run out is something very special. He is just really good for not only myself but any first, second year player coming in when you have got Tony Lockett teaching you how to kick a ball and kick for goal it is really special and it is a resource that everyone needs to use.”  

After Sydney lost their first six games of 2017 the club was on the bottom of the ladder. Sydney defeated Brisbane by 54 points at the SCG in Round 7 to record their first victory of the season with left-footer Franklin best afield and polling three Brownlow Medal votes. In his dominant performance against Brisbane Franklin had a team-high 16 kicks, an equal game-high nine marks, a game-high seven inside 50’s, six marks inside 50, took an equal game-high two contested marks, kicked eight goals – six more than the second ranked player for the game, and was damaging with his ball use to have a disposal efficiency of 75%.

Franklin playing for Sydney in Round 9, 2017 against St Kilda on 20 May at Marvel Stadium

During the AFL’s Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round in 2017 – Round 10 from Thursday May 25 to Sunday May 28 several players in the AFL wore number 50 or number 67 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Australian referendum. Franklin was one such player in this category – wearing number 67 for Sydney’s Round 10 game against his old club Hawthorn.  As a result of the 1967 referendum two references in the Australian Constitution which discriminated against Aboriginals were removed. Franklin was sublime in Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round against Hawthorn at the SCG, having 12 kicks, four handballs, an equal team-high six marks, five inside 50s, a game-high four contested marks and kicked a game-high five goals. Franklin won the Goodes-O’Loughlin medal for being best afield and received 9 votes in the AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year Award – equal with Hawthorn’s Shaun Burgoyne who like Buddy decided to wear number 67 for the game. It was fitting that in the Friday night game of the 2017 Indigenous Round two of the greatest Indigenous players of all-time in Franklin and Burgoyne were the best two players on the ground. On Brownlow Medal night Burgoyne polled three votes and Franklin received the two votes.

Sydney built momentum to win eight of nine games from Round 7 to Round 16 to improve their record to eight wins and seven losses. In a massive Round 17 game at Spotless Stadium against cross-town rival the GWS Giants who were entrenched in the top four Franklin excelled, having 16 kicks – ranked second for Sydney, took an equal game-high eight marks, six inside 50’s, kicked a game-high four goals and polled three Brownlow medal votes in the 13 point victory. Franklin received the maximum 10 votes in the AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year Award for his brilliant performance.

Franklin entered the final Round of 2017 – Round 23 on 59 goals, ranked third in the AFL– five goals behind league leader Josh Kennedy and one goal behind Joe Daniher. In the final round of the 2017 home and away season Sydney key forward Franklin kicked 10 goals against Carlton at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Saturday, 26 August in a best afield performance to win the fourth Coleman Medal of his career in dramatic fashion. On the final day of the home and away season Daniher kicked two goals against Fremantle and Kennedy was held to one goal against Adelaide, enabling Franklin to become the first player in the 62 year history of the award to win the Coleman Medal after trailing with one round remaining in the season. Franklin kicked 69 goals during the 2017 home and away season to finish ahead of three fellow key forwards – Josh Kennedy (65), Ben Brown (63) and Joe Daniher (62).

Against Carlton in Round 23 Franklin had a game-high 21 kicks, team-high 10 marks, six inside 50’s, 11 contested possessions, kicked 10 goals, two behinds, had a disposal efficiency of 76% and polled three Brownlow Medal votes. Franklin was the first player to kick 10 goals or more in an AFL game since Josh Kennedy in Round 2, 2015 against Carlton. It was the second time Franklin had kicked 10 goals or more in a game with the previous time being when he kicked 13 goals for Hawthorn in Round 12, 2012 against North Melbourne at University of Tasmania Stadium.

During 2017 Franklin set new career highs for total kicks, marks and inside 50’s in a home and away season. Franklin winning the 2017 Coleman Medal extended a pattern of winning this award every three years – having won this award four times – 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2017. With his fourth Coleman Medal Franklin equalled the record for the most times a player has won this award during their career, however the Coleman Medal has only been awarded since 1955, a Leading Goalkicker Medal was awarded retrospectively on July 26, 2004 to the leading goalkicker each season from 1897 to 1954. Franklin is one of five players to lead the VFL/AFL goal kicking four times along with John Coleman, Peter Hudson, Tony Lockett and Doug Wade, only two players have led the league goalkicking more times being two Collingwood spearhead’s – Dick Lee 10 times with the last time being in 1921 and Gordon Coventry six times with the last time being in 1937.

Franklin taking a mark for Sydney in Round 9, 2017 against St Kilda on 20 May at Marvel Stadium

Franklin finished 11th in the 2017 AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year Award with 67 votes, ranked first at Sydney. In the AFL Players’ Association 2017 MVP Award Buddy polled 215 votes to finish fifth, Dustin Martin won the award with 1,333 votes, ahead of Patrick Dangerfield (776). 

As well as leading the AFL for goals during 2017 Franklin also ranked sixth in the league for marks and fourth for inside 50’s. Highlighting Buddy’s ability to make use of his great aerobic capacity and deliver the ball inside 50 whilst also leading the league for goals kicked he was one of only four players to rank in the top 40 of the AFL for goals and inside 50’s along with midfielders Dustin Martin, Patrick Dangerfield and Dayne Zorko. Franklin polled 22 votes in the 2017 Brownlow Medal to finish fourth overall 14 votes behind Dustin Martin. Franklin finished equal second in Sydney’s best and fairest on 650 votes with Jake Lloyd, 46 votes behind Luke Parker. In 2017 Franklin was the only Sydney player selected in the 2017 All-Australian team, being named at centre half-forward.

Franklin kicking a goal for Sydney in Round 19, 2017 against Hawthorn on 28 July at the MCG

The profile for Franklin in AFL Prospectus 2018 said “In the past 10 years, he has had 1,434 shots at goal – while no other player has had 1,000 – kicking over 200 goals more than any other player. The scoreboard is only one part of his game, as Franklin averaged 10.4 Player Rating points from ball use in 2017, which was ranked No.1 in the AFL – with no other player averaging over nine points. Elite for disposals, metres gained and score assists, he is the complete key forward.”15

Franklin earns his eighth All-Australian selection in 2018 and is named captain

In Round 1, 2018 Western Australian Franklin returned to his home state and in the first AFL game at Optus Stadium in front of 53,553 spectators against West Coast delivered a best afield performance with 17 kicks, four handballs, took a team-high nine marks, had six inside 50’s, laid four tackles, took a game-high three contested marks and kicked a game-high eight goals in Sydney’s 29 point victory to poll three Brownlow Medal votes.

During Sydney’s Round 1 victory against West Coast Franklin suffered a heel injury, despite the injury he played Sydney’s first five games of the season and kicked a total of 10 goals in four games from Round 2 to Round 5. After Sydney announced that Franklin would miss the Round 6 away game against Geelong, Sydney head coach John Longmire commented on Buddy’s injury, saying “It happened in round one in Perth at Optus Stadium. He hasn’t done any training of substance since then. We’ve been trying to get him better week by week and were hoping we could get to a point where he could get through games better and do some training. It hasn’t responded and got worse on the weekend and we’re not sure after that how it will respond.” From Round 1 2017 to Round 5 2019 Franklin had played 55 consecutive AFL games.

After missing three games with the heel injury from Round 6 to Round 8 Franklin returned in Round 9 and played 14 of the Swans remaining 15 games of the season, only missing the Round 23 game against Hawthorn with a groin injury. Buddy kicked at least four goals in a game seven times in 2018 and had two best afield performances in his last three games of the home and away season. Against Collingwood at the SCG in Round 20 he had 15 kicks, took nine marks including six inside 50 and kicked a game-high six goals in a two point victory. At Sydney Showgrounds against GWS Giants in Round 22 Franklin had 15 kicks, one handball, eight marks including a game-high five contested, 14 contested possessions to be ranked equal second for the game in this category, one behind teammate Luke Parker, and kicked a game-high five goals in the Swans 20 point victory.  

Franklin playing for Sydney in Round 21, 2018 against Melbourne on 12 August at the MCG

During the 2018 home and away season Franklin played 18 games and kicked 57 goals to finish fourth in the Coleman Medal, eight goals behind Jack Riewoldt. Sydney finished sixth on the ladder with 14 wins and eight losses. In a 49 point elimination final loss to the GWS Giants Franklin was kept goalless.

Despite hardly being able to train throughout the 2018 season due to his heel injury Franklin still maintained a high standard of performance and remained the clear focal point of Sydney’s attack. The profile for Franklin in AFL Prospectus 2019 said “It was another incredible season for Franklin. As he kicked 25.3% of the team’s scoring shots, the highest percentage of any player in any season since 2008. Since 2014 the Swans have scored a goal from 27% of his kicks inside 50 – ranking him second of the top-100 for these types of kicks.”16

Franklin was selected at centre half-forward in the 2018 All-Australian team, his eighth selection and was named captain, he was the only Sydney player named in the team. Buddy polled 510 votes in Sydney’s best and fairest to finish third behind Jake Lloyd (540 votes) and Luke Parker (517). Franklin polled 16 votes in the Brownlow Medal to lead Sydney and rank equal 12th overall. The profile for Franklin in AFL Record Season 2019 said “The West Australian’s leadership of a young forward line was brilliant under duress and is one of his most underrated attributes outside the club.”17

Buddy celebrating a goal for Sydney in Round 21, 2018 against Melbourne on 12 August at the MCG

When Buddy was on stage after being announced as the captain of the 2018 All-Australian team he was asked how he would address his team-mates in a pre-game huddle. Buddy’s succinct response was “Kick it to me.” After being named an All-Australian for the eighth time in his career Franklin commented “I’m proud, I really am – it’s been a lot of hard work, not only by myself but by my teammates, to be the player I am today. I’ve come a long way, obviously, from a 17-year-old boy drafted across from Perth … not only with my football, but the person I am today. I couldn’t ask for a better job, it’s amazing.”

Injury restricts Franklin to a total of 10 AFL games in 2019-2020

From Round 1 to Round 5, 2019 Franklin played five consecutive games for Sydney. Franklin was a late withdrawal in Round 6 due to a hamstring injury and missed four consecutive games. In Round 10 Franklin returned to the Swans team and at the SCG in Round 12 against West Coast Buddy had 17 kicks, one handball, took nine marks including a game-high seven inside 50s, an equal game-high two goal assists, kicked an equal game-high five goals and polled two Brownlow Medal votes in the 45 point victory. Following Sydney’s Round 13 bye Franklin was very effective from limited opportunities in his 299th AFL game, having five kicks, no handballs, three marks – all contested and kicked a game-high four goals to poll one Brownlow Medal vote in the 19 point victory against Hawthorn in Round 14 at the SCG.

Tentative plans had been made to celebrate Buddy reaching the 300game milestone at the SCG in Round 15 against Gold Coast however Franklin was ruled out of the game due to a hamstring injury and had an extended stint on the sidelines.

In Round 23 against St Kilda at the SCG, Franklin made his return from injury, playing his 300th AFL game at 32 years of age. In the week leading up to Buddy’s 300th AFL game his former teammate Roughead commented in a video Cobras, Bud-ography and bad breath, Buddy’s buddies 300th tribute published on on 24 August 2019 “When you have got a once in a generation type player playing each week I think most people will come to the games just to watch him play. The star attraction of any game when he’s playing is him.”

In his milestone game Buddy had 13 kicks, one handball, took a game-high 10 marks including three contested and kicked a game-high four goals in the Swans 45 point victory against St Kilda. Franklin became the seventh indigenous player to reach 300 AFL games, joining Shaun Burgoyne, Adam Goodes, Andrew McLeod, Eddie Betts, Michael O’Loughlin and Gavin Wanganeen in this select group. 

During 2019 Franklin played 10 games and averaged 11.7 disposals and 2.7 goals per game. It was the lowest season games tally in his career to that point and only the second time in his first 15 AFL seasons that he played less than 17 games with his previous lowest games tally being 14 games in 2006, his second season. Franklin ranked third at Sydney with 27 goals in 2019, behind Tom Papley (37 goals) and Sam Reid (28). 

During December 2019 Franklin was voted into Sydney’s leadership group for the 2020 season, it was the first time in his AFL career that Buddy had held an official leadership role for his club. Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker and Dane Rampe continued as Sydney’s three captain’s, the Swans five player leadership group was completed by Callum Mills and Franklin. On Buddy’s inclusion in the leadership group Sydney coach Longmire commented “Lance has been elevated by the players in recognition of the huge investment he has made in the team. I’ve no doubt he will be a valuable addition to our leadership group.”18 

In the first week of January 2020 Buddy experienced discomfort in his right knee, he then had an arthroscope to try and rectify the issue. In the week before the 2020 AFL home and away season commenced in March the AFL announced that due to uncertainty regarding coronavirus that the structure of the season and length of games would be condensed. During the 2020 home and away season each club was scheduled to play 17 games comprised of one game against each of the other AFL clubs, a reduction from each team playing 22 games across 23 rounds. The length of quarters was reduced from 20 minutes plus time-on to 16 minutes plus time-on to enable a shorter break between games if required.

Due to the knee injury Franklin missed Sydney’s Round 1 game. As a result of COVID-19 the 2020 AFL season was postponed after Round 1. In May Buddy injured his hamstring which kept him on the sidelines when the 2020 season resumed in mid-June. After experiencing groin soreness Franklin was ruled out for the 2020 season on 23 August, between Sydney’s Round 13 and Round 14 game. Sydney’s head of football Charlie Gardiner commented “Lance has been working hard on a return to play and, until this week, we remained hopeful that would happen before the end of the season. However, given the soreness he has experienced in his groin, which suggests he still has some instability there, we believe the best course of action is for Lance to focus on building his core strength, rather than pushing himself to play again this year. Lance will remain with the team and continue his rehabilitation and training. He’s also keen to assist in a mentoring and coaching capacity as he is fully invested in our young group. We look forward to seeing him back to full strength next season.”19

Buddy kicks 50 goals in a season for the 12th time in 2021

Franklin missed Sydney’s opening game of the 2021 season, an upset 31 point victory against Brisbane at the Gabba. On 27 March 2021, 19 months and three days after his previous AFL game, game number 300 against St Kilda in Round 23, 2019 at the SCG Buddy made his much awaited return in Round 2, 2021 against Adelaide at the SCG. From Round 15 2019 to Round 1, 2021 injury had restricted Franklin to playing just one of a possible 27 games for Sydney. In a 33 point victory against Adelaide in Round 2, 2022 Franklin had nine disposals and kicked an equal team-high three goals.

During the video Franklin 1000: Buddy in his own words / 2022 AFL / published by the AFL on 25 March 2022 Buddy commented “You can take things for granted a lot of times when you are playing throughout the season. But when you do miss a lot of football it puts things in perspective and how hard it is to continually play. I think when the team’s under pressure or we need a goal, the ones that I have been able to kick they’re the ones that I remember and there is nothing better than doing it.“

Sydney were conservative with Franklin’s return to football and he was managed for Round 3. Against Essendon in Round 4 Buddy had nine disposals and kicked an equal game-high three goals in Sydney’s three point victory at the SCG. In a two point loss to GWS Giants in Round 5 at the SCG Franklin had 12 kicks, took eight marks, kicked five goals, took a game-high five contested marks and polled two Brownlow Medal votes. Due to bone bruising in his knee Franklin missed Rounds 6 and 7.

Franklin returned to Sydney’s team for Round 8 and after only playing four AFL games from Round 15 2019 to Round 7 2021, he was able to string 15 consecutive games for Sydney together and didn’t miss an AFL game for the rest of the 2021 season.

At Perth Stadium in Round 10 against Fremantle Buddy had 14 kicks, four handballs, took an equal game-high 10 marks, kicked a game-high six goals and polled three Brownlow Medal votes in a two point loss.

On 26 May 2021 Jordy and Buddy one on one aired on Fox Footy with Buddy being interviewed by his former teammate Jordan Lewis. During the interview Buddy commented “I think having kids has chilled me out a little bit. I think being in football, it can be a stressful job at times, obviously you want to be performing well and that level of stress does come into it. I think definitely having a young family and kids takes your mind off football at times and soon as you get home with your family it is all about your family.” Buddy and wife Jesinta have two young children, daughter Tullulah and son Rocky.

Later in the interview with former teammate Lewis, Franklin spoke about the move from Hawthorn to Sydney at the end of the 2013 season, commenting “I wouldn’t change anything for the world. I think it was the right time for me to leave Melbourne and come up here and experience something different. Have absolutely loved my time here.”

During the 2021 home and away season Franklin kicked at least four goals in a game five times. In Round 23 at the Docklands Franklin had nine kicks, four handballs, took seven marks and kicked a game-high six goals in Sydney’s 87 point victory against Gold Coast. Franklin kicked 48 goals during the 2021 home and away season to finish equal fourth in the Coleman Medal, 10 goals behind Carlton key forward Harry McKay.

Sydney finished the 2021 home and away season sixth on the ladder with 15 wins and seven losses, only percentage behind the Brisbane Lions and Western Bulldogs in fourth and fifth position respectively. In a one point elimination final loss to cross-town rivals the GWS Giants at University of Tasmania Stadium Franklin had 14 disposals and kicked three goals.

During 2021 Franklin played 18 of a possible 23 games for Sydney and averaged 11.8 disposals and 2.8 goals per game. Franklin led Sydney with 51 goals and was named in the 40 player All-Australian squad but missed out on selection in the final 22 player team. 

Buddy kicks his 1,000th career goal in 2022 and moves into the top five on the AFL’s all-time goal kicking list

Franklin entered the 2022 season having kicked 995 goals in his AFL career and needed just five more goals to become the sixth person in the league’s 125 year history to reach 1,000 career goals. On achieving this significant milestone Franklin would join Tony Lockett (1,360 goals), Gordon Coventry (1,299), Jason Dunstall (1,254), Doug Wade (1,057) and Gary Ablett snr (1,031) in this select group.

The Sydney Swans first two games of the 2022 season were both in Sydney, playing GWS Giants away at Accor Stadium followed by a home game at the SCG against Geelong on Friday night, 25 March in Round 2. In Round 1 against the Giants Franklin had eight disposals and kicked one goal in Sydney’s 20 point victory. 

Franklin entered Sydney’s Round 2 game against Geelong at the SCG on 25 March with 996 career goals. From a Callum Mills pass Buddy took an overhead mark in the right forward pocket and kicked a set-shot goal from 40 metres out, four metres in from the boundary with five seconds left in the first quarter. During the third quarter Franklin facing away from goal tapped the ball to teammate Chad Warner and was then outstretched on the ground face first, Jack Henry fell onto Buddy’s back and gave away a free kick for in the back. Franklin kicked his second goal of the game with a set-shot  from 30 metres out on a slight angle with 8 minutes and 42 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Late in the third quarter Parker kicked to Buddy who took a chest mark 45 metres out from goal directly in front. Buddy kicked a goal from 52 metres out to extend Sydney’s lead to 28 points and register the 999th goal of his career.

Franklin started the fourth quarter on the ground but went to the interchange with 13 minutes and 20 seconds left which led to some fans booing. A couple of minutes later Franklin stood up from the bench and some fans in the crowd were chanting ‘Buddy, Buddy.’ With 10 minutes and 45 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter Sydney made three changes, however Franklin remained standing up waiting to get back on, which led to more boos from the crowd wanting to see Buddy return to the field of play. With nine minutes and 45 seconds left Tom Hickey went to the interchange and Buddy went on which received loud cheers from the crowd.

With just under seven minutes to play Callum Mills gathered the ball between wing and half-back and gave a left-handed hand-ball to Warner on his right. Warner handballed the ball to a teammate in front of him, kept on running received the ball back and kicked to a leading Franklin who took an uncontested mark in the right forward pocket. With the set-shot on his left foot Franklin kicked his fourth goal for the game from 40 metres out on a slight angle with five minutes and 55 seconds to register his 1,000th goal in front of 36,578 spectators.

With the Foo Fighters song My Hero being playing on the stadium’s PA thousands of spectators ran out on to the SCG towards Buddy to celebrate the milestone, within a couple of minutes more people were on the SCG playing surface than in the stands and many people took photos and videos of Buddy with their mobile phones. Eventually Franklin was able to work his way through the crowd to get off the ground and celebrate his milestone with his Sydney teammates and head coach Longmire.

In an interview with television broadcaster Seven Network after he went off the ground Matthew Richardson asked Franklin “I can’t imagine another athlete experiencing what you just did out there, its unprecedented, the scenes, how was that for you?” Franklin responded “Surreal, it was an amazing moment, it really was. A lot of hard work to get there. I have been playing for 18 years so a lot of hard work to get there, I wouldn’t have been able to get there without some great teammates around me to provide those assists. It was an amazing moment, one I’ll cherish forever.”

When play resumed 36 minutes after Franklin kicked the 1,000th goal of his career it started raining. Franklin spent the last five minutes and 55 seconds of the game on the interchange bench. Sydney defeated Geelong by 30 points. Franklin was very efficient against Geelong to kick four goals straight, he finished the game with nine kicks, one handball and seven marks.

The sherrin football that Franklin kicked to register his 1,000th goal was marked in the crowd by Sydney supporter Alex Wheeler who left the SCG with the prized possession. With the match ball missing the Sydney Swans Football Club posted on social media for it to be returned. On Monday 28 March Wheeler attended Swans training, presented the sherrin to Buddy and received a signed, jumper, boots and ball from the Swans as well as an SCG membership.   

In a press conference at the SCG on Monday 28 March Franklin has asked “What are your memories of the night now?’ Franklin responded “Obviously it was a significant moment. I absolutely loved it, it was a really special night to see so many Swans supporters out here, especially with what happened the last couple of years with COVID. To have a packed stadium it was very special and obviously to kick the goal it was awesome.”

Several of Buddy’s family members had flown from interstate or overseas to watch him play against Geelong in Round 2 at the SCG and hopefully kick the 1,000th goal of his career, Buddy’s sister Bianca had travelled from Los Angeles to watch the game. On achieving the milestone in this game Franklin commented “I wanted to get it done as soon as I could. It was obviously perfect timing to get it done here at the SCG, then to have my family come across from America, Perth, Adelaide, I had a lot of family here. It was just a special moment to have those people that have been through everything with me from the start of my career and for the last 18 years, it meant the world for me to have them there. On the night I did say for me to kick the thousand goals, I couldn’t have done this without being at two amazing footy clubs, like I have been fortunate enough to play with some of the all-time great players at Hawthorn and then here at the Swans so I feel blessed to have played with some great players that have made this possible.”

During the press conference Franklin was asked “In the crush of the crowd were you ever concerned for your safety on Friday night?” Franklin responded “I was lapping it up to be honest with you, a little bit of carry-on but I think when I kicked the 100 goals in 2008 at that stage I was very young and I thought if I ever get to the 1,000 goals I am really going to enjoy it and so I really soaked it up. At no stage for me personally was I nervous or scared of the crowd. It was just a special moment, absolutely loved it, a lot of the boys that were involved in it would have thought the same too. From where I was everyone seemed in really good spirits and was happy, I didn’t feel uncomfortable with the situation at all. I think the people that were around me were always talking to me and making sure that everyone was ok.” 

During the press conference at the SCG Franklin spoke about the prospect of playing on in 2023, commenting “We’ll just see how it goes, obviously I want to really enjoy this last year of my contract and then we will way it up and see where we are at, at the end of the year. It is the best job in the world, being around a professional sporting organisation for so long it is the best job in the world and something I love doing but as I said we will just work that out as the year goes on?” A journalist asked “Does that you do it until you can’t do it anymore?” Buddy relied “Totally.”

Current Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan worked at Hawthorn as an assistant coach and as head of coaching and development whilst Franklin played for the club. In the lead up to Buddy reaching 1,000 career goals Fagan told “When he was a young bloke he was just such a mad trainer. He wanted to be good. He was a great athlete and he’s got great skills, but they’re not there by accident, he’s worked really hard to develop them. His capacity to kick goals for a man of his size, to be able to do it more like a rover at times, he practised that a lot. He’s not the great player he is by chance. I think he has an entertainer’s mindset. When people go to the footy they go there to watch him. When we trained, he was always one of the last blokes off because he’d be out there doing dribble kicks and kicking them around the corner. All that stuff you’d see in a game, he practised that. It was his playground really, the footy field, and anywhere within 50m of goal.”20

Sydney coach Longmire reflected on Franklin’s career at Sydney, telling “Since he’s been here, there’s been so many moments where you look at him and shake your head in amazement at times at what he’s able to achieve and what he’s able to do on the footy ground for a bloke of that size. He does it so often. When I think of Lance Franklin, I think of a massive competitor. People see the talent, which is there for everyone to see, but when you’re in the inner sanctum, you see how much of a competitor he is and how ruthless he is. For me, that’s what stands out about Lance Franklin.”21

Against the Brisbane Lions in Round 7 at the SCG Franklin had 10 kicks, five handballs, took an equal team-high seven marks, kicked a game-high six goals – three more than the second ranked player for the game and polled seven coaches votes in a 24 point loss.

At the SCG against Richmond during Indigenous Round in a Friday night game to commence Round 11 on 27 May Franklin played a pivotal role in Sydney recovering from a 33 point deficit at the 20 minute mark of the second quarter to win a thrilling game by six points. With Sydney trailing Richmond by 14 points five minutes and 30 seconds into the last quarter Franklin kicked three of the next fives goals of the match to give Sydney a four point lead at the 17 minute mark. Buddy finished the game with nine kicks, five marks and a game-high five goals to poll a game-high nine votes in the AFL Coaches Association Champion Player of the Year Award. Franklin won the Goodes-O’Loughlin medal for the second time in his career (having also won in 2017), polling the maximum nine votes to finish five votes ahead of Sydney midfielder Chad Warner.

Franklin playing for Sydney at the MCG against Essendon in Round 16, 2022 on 2 July

After Round 20 of the 2022 home and away season Franklin has kicked 1,036 goals in his 335 game AFL career at an average of 3.09 goals per games and is fifth on the AFL’s all-time goal-kicking list. Buddy requires 22 more goals to pass Doug Wade and move up to fourth place on this list.

Top 10 AFL goal kickers of all-time as at 4 August 2022

1              Tony Lockett                      1,360

2              Gordon Coventry             1,299

3              Jason Dunstall                    1,254

4              Doug Wade                        1,057

5              Lance Franklin                   1,036

6              Gary Ablett                         1,031

7              Jack Titus                             970

8              Matthew Lloyd                     926

9              Leigh Matthews                   915

10           Peter McKenna                    874

Franklin ranks first for career goals kicked by a left-footer ahead of Matthew Lloyd (926 goals), former Hawthorn teammate Jarryd Roughead (578), Simon Madden (575) and Fraser Gehrig (549) who is equal 48th on the all-time goal kickers list. The last three players to kick 100 goals in an AFL season have all been left-footers, Lloyd – 109 goals in 2000 and 105 goals in 2001, Gehrig – 103 goals in 2004 and Franklin – 113 goals in 2008. The last right-footer to reach the ton was Lockett with 107 goals for Sydney in 1998.  

Buddy is one of four players on an AFL list in 2022 that have kicked more than 550 goals in their career, being joined in this category by Jack Riewoldt – 750 goals, Tom Hawkins – 716 and Josh Kennedy – 715. Kennedy has announced his retirement and is playing his last AFL game for West Coast in their Round 21 home game against Adelaide. Neither Hawkins or Jack Riewoldt have a contract for 2023 yet and they will both be 34 years of age when the 2023 season starts.

Franklin turns 36 years of age on January 30 next year and wants to play on. Sydney are keen for Buddy to play a 10th season with them however club and player still need to reach agreement on a contract figure. As the 2022 season has progressed there has been speculation that Franklin could leave Sydney and join another AFL club for the 2023 season with the Brisbane Lions considered the most likely club if Franklin decides to leave Sydney. Buddy is a restricted free option which gives Sydney the option of matching an offer he receives from a rival club. Jesinta has family on the Gold Coast and Buddy has family in Perth. In early July 2022 Jesinta completed the AFL Players’ Accreditation course to be a player manager and commented on Buddy “I think there’s still a lot of good football left in him, but it’s our dream, whether that’s in five years or 10 years or whenever, to be able to live closer to one of the grandparents and have quality time with them.”22    

In the first 20 rounds of the 2022 season Franklin has played 17 of Sydney’s 19 games and has kicked 41 goals to lead Sydney’s goal kicking by one goal from Isaac Heeney and is 12th in the Coleman Medal. Buddy ranks equal third in the AFL for marks on a lead in 2022 and sixth for marks inside 50.


During his 18 season AFL career Franklin has played 335 games comprised of 182 for Hawthorn and 153 for Sydney, he has averaged 10.8 kicks, 4.4 handballs, 5.5 marks, 3.3 inside 50’s, 0.6 Brownlow medal votes and 3.1 goals per game. Franklin has kicked more than 50 goals in a season 12 times including a sequence of eight consecutive seasons from 2007 to 2014.

Franklin kicked 580 goals for Hawthorn, ranked fifth on the club’s all-time list, behind Dunstall (1,254), Matthews (915), Peter Hudson (726) and Michael Moncrief (629) and two goals ahead of Roughead.

On Sydney’s all-time goal kicking list Franklin ranks sixth with 456 goals, he requires only 12 goals to overtake Tony Lockett (462), Adam Goodes (464), and Barry Hall (467) to move up to third place. The Swans top two goalkickers are Bob Pratt (681) and Michael O’Loughlin (521).  In addition to his contributions for the Swans on the field Franklin’s presence at Sydney has also had a positive impact on the club’s game attendance, merchandise and membership sales, media coverage and sponsorship.   

Buddy is in a select group of four players that have played 150 games or more for two clubs along with former Hawthorn teammate Shaun Burgoyne, Bernie Quinlan and Heath Shaw. Franklin’s 335 career games ranks 28th on the AFL’s all-time list.  

During his exhilarating career Franklin has twice won the AFL goal of the year award – in 2010 and 2013. Since the AFL introduced weekly nominations for the Goal of the Year in 2001 Franklin is one of only two players along with Eddie Betts to win the goal of the year award multiple times, with Betts having won the award three times – 2006, 2015 and 2016.

During Franklin’s AFL career from 2005 to 2022 he is the only player to kick seven or more goals in a final, achieving this feat twice which makes him the only player to kick at least seven goals in multiple finals from 2000 to 2022. Franklin kicked seven goals for Hawthorn including the match-winner in their 2007 elimination final victory against Adelaide at Marvel Stadium. The following year Buddy kicked eight goals in the Hawks 2008 qualifying final win against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG. Franklin has played 25 finals in his career comprised of 14 for Hawthorn and 11 for Sydney. Buddy has kicked 72 goals in finals during his career comprised of 46 for Hawthorn and 26 for Sydney to rank equal fourth on the VFL/AFL all-time list goals with Leigh Matthews, behind Gordon Coventry (111 goals), Jason Dunstall (78) and Jack Titus (74).

Franklin’s career best 13 goals against North Melbourne at University of Tasmania Stadium in Round 10, 2012 is the most goals kicked in a game by a player on an AFL list in 2022, the next best is 11 goals in a game by Josh Kennedy and Jack Riewoldt, both in 2014.

Franklin has polled 178 Brownlow Medal votes in his career, ranked equal 15th on the AFL’s all-time list and sixth among active players behind Patrick Dangerfield (230 votes), Scott Pendlebury (213), Joel Selwood (210), Dustin Martin (202) and Nat Fyfe (187). Franklin has polled at least 20 votes in a season four times and finished equal runner-up in 2014. Buddy’s 178 votes is the most polled by an indigenous player, in front of former Sydney team-mate and two-time Brownlow Medallist Adam Goodes (163 votes). The list of most career Brownlow Medal votes is dominated by on-ballers. Franklin ranks first for votes polled by a key-forward ahead of six-time St Kilda best and fairest winner Nick Riewoldt (153 votes).   

During his career Buddy has finished in the top six of his club’s best and fairest comprised of three times each for Hawthorn and Sydney. Franklin won Hawthorn’s best and fairest in their premiership winning 2008 season, was runner-up in 2010 and finished third in 2009. Franklin finished equal second in the Swans 2017 best and fairest and third in 2014 and 2018.  

Franklin’s consistent level of high performance and longevity is highlighted by being selected in the All-Australian squad of 40 players 12 times including being named in the final 22 player team eight times – 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 when he was also named captain. As soon as Buddy has been retired for five years and becomes eligible he is certain to be inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Lance ‘Budddy’ Franklin’s strengths during his illustrious career playing as a key forward have been his athleticism, penetrating kicking, ability to kick miraculous goals, speed, strength, ability at ground level and field kicking. This skill-set combined with his hard training and competitiveness have enabled Buddy to create an exhilarating highlight reel and achieve some feats we wont see for a considerable time, or maybe even ever, including kicking 100 goals in a season and kicking 1,000 goals in a career.

Article and photographs by Dean Andrews

Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777



2 He was about to completely ‘destroy’ them: When Bucky met Buddy (

3 He was about to completely ‘destroy’ them: When Bucky met Buddy (

4 He was about to completely ‘destroy’ them: When Bucky met Buddy (

5 AFL, AFL Record Season Guide 2005, Page 168


7 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus – The essential number cruncher for season 2009, 4th edition, page 156

8 AFL, AFL Record Season Guide 2009, Page 21

9 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus – The essential number cruncher for season 2012, 7th edition, page 190




13 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus – The essential number cruncher for season 2015, 10th edition, page 333

14 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus – The essential number cruncher for season 2017, 12th edition, page 336

15 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus – The essential number cruncher for season 2018, 13th edition, page 334

16 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus – The essential number cruncher for season 2019, 14th edition, page 335

17 AFL, AFL Record Season 2019, Page 320






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Milestones and Misses publishes articles to celebrate the achievements of sportspeople, mainly Australian Rules Football (AFL and AFLW) and the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL). In sport as with life in general it is common that milestones are only achieved after overcoming adversity, so whilst the articles on the Milestones and Misses website celebrate sportspeople achieving milestones they also cover the misses along the journey such as a player having minimal game-time or spending a prolonged period on the sidelines due to injury. The aim of the articles is to enable readers to gain a greater appreciation of the journey sportspeople have had during their career.

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