Wednesday waffle, Franklin, Worner, Jones and Farewelling the Champions

Welcome all, on another beautiful, sunny Melbourne morning. Its officially hump day and there's all sorts of shenanigans coming from all corners of the football world. Franklin is primed for his 250th, the trade merry-go-round is in full swing, the AFL has admitted that the umpires made mistakes, and Worner just won't fade away. Right, lets get into it.

Blaming the umpires for a poor performance, momentum swings, or just errors of judgement is part and parcel of being an AFL supporter. I've always grown up with that, as have most fans. An umpire makes a mistake, you howl in anger. They miss a free kick, you kick and scream. They give you one and you give them a ripping bronx cheer. But what about the fella in green running around the field.

Having been an umpire before, both field and boundary, its a unique experience, and its one that I think all fans should try at least once. TV is such a finicky thing. As Alan Richardson said on AFL360 on Monday night, it's easy to spot mistakes from high up in the stadium. The TV has a camera angle, the umpires have a camera angle, but they don't match up and sometimes things are missed.

When you're running around out there, it can be incredibly hard to make the right call. You've got to be confident, let things slide when you make a mistake, and depend entirely on your counter parts. You get blind sided, your partner can screw you by changing over way too early or too late, or sometimes you just make a howler you shake your head at. They're all human, and its the old faithful line the umpire department. It's true though. Sometimes you have less than a fraction of a second to make a decision, move to the next contest, make another decision and repeat over. In a single quarter, you can be making decisions every 2 or 3 seconds, and if its a fast paced, or particularly tight game, a decision every second.

It was refreshing to read Peter Schwab admitting that the umpires had erred on Friday night. Its not the first time that the Swans have been wronged by the men in the middle, most notably in last years grand final. In circumstances like that, you can become overawed, crowd screaming, mind racing, sometimes you just miss things and you say to yourself "I'll get it next time", except the same thing keeps happening.

Fast forward 6 months, nothing has changed, and thats immensely disappointing. Even more so, when you hear John Longmire speak to the media, stating that he hadn't had an opportunity to talk to Peter before the season started, describing it as"an overdue chat which would have been useful in the pre-season". That's disappointing, from an AFL perspective and especially from a club perspective, since the Swans sit at the bottom of the free kick differential ladder (or top, however you look at it). I could spend all day writing about this, and I have before, but I won't bore you any more.

Buddy Franklin plays his 250th AFL game on Friday against the Pies. Its hard to believe that he's managed the milestone, having just turned 30. It really is a testament to his skill and longevity in the game, rarely missing large chunks of games, regularly playing 20 per season. Amazingly, he's still in the first half of his 9 year contract with the Swans, and its conceivable that he will perform to his elite standard for most of it.

He met with AFL360 on Tuesday night to discuss his 250th match, his career and what it means to him. When asked about premierships and what motivates him, he was equivocal about his passion and desire for one in red and white.

“I want it. I want it more than ever,” Franklin told AFL 360.

“We’ve played in two grand finals since I’ve been up here and it hurts not to win those grand finals. But the motivation is to get back.

“It’s something I’ll be working as hard as possible with the group we’ve got to get back in the finals and potentially win a grand final.”

When asked whether he was contemplating life after football, he dismissed it out of hand, looking at his elder peers for inspiration.

“I think 30 is just a number,” Franklin said.

“Back in the day, 30 was sometimes when you’d hang up the boots.

“But I look at Nick Riewoldt — he’s coming up to 35. That gives me a little bit of hope that I’ll get there. He was a centre half forward for a number of years and now he’s even gone into the midfield.

“I look at Sam Mitchell, Shaun Burgoyne. It’s about looking after your body. I’ve got no doubt I’ll get there.”

Sitting on 795 goals, he's about to become the 12th player in AFL/VFL history to kick 800 or more goals. That's an amazing achievement, considering the difference in play, fitness, technique and defensive tactics, as compared to the late 80's and early 90's. There were days that Lockett would kick 10 by half time, yet 10 in modern football is a rout. When asked about joining the 800 club, he spoke of the achievement, and his output throughout his career.

“It would be nice to get 800 this Friday night against Collingwood. I’m still five off,” Franklin said.

“It would be nice to get that. It’s a special achievement. And when I get to that, at the end of my career it’s something I’ll be really proud of.

“I think I’ve been very consistent over my career. There were a couple of years where I was lean on my output but overall I’ve been pretty consistent.”

He spoke to the Sydney Swans this morning ahead of training. You can watch it here and read about it here. When asked about his 250th game and what it meant, he was similarly unequivocal about it, focusing on the team and less on his own personal achievements.

"It's really special, but it is something I'll look back on when I finish my career," he said on Wednesday morning.

"The main focus for me at the moment is getting the win on Friday night, it really is.

"We've gotten off to a bad start, we were pretty bad against Port (Adelaide), but we were much better against on the weekend.

"We've come up against some good teams. Port Adelaide are up and coming and have played some good football, and the (Western) Bulldogs won the premiership last year.

"Collingwood is a very good contested side so we're expecting a big contest."

Can't wait to see you run out against the pies, and slide into the 800 club. Hopefully off the back of 10, a massive win. I'll have the transcripts for the interviews up later tonight or tomorrow morning, time permitting.

In off-field news, there's more noise being made about perennial trouble maker, Tim Worner. While his private business should have remained private, all the nitty gritty details are being played out through the media. It's getting worse for the beleaguered director, who's also come under fire for racing horses with inappropriate names. Prominent Swans members group, L@SS (Ladies at Sydney Swans), have threatened to boycott to club, even rescind their memberships, if Andrew Ireland doesn't deal with Worner. Member of the L@SS group and high profile ad executive Esther Clerehan told Rear Window, the women were angry about the treatment of Amber Harrison.

"This is not about a woman having an affair with her boss," said Clerehan, who has been vocal in her support for Harrison on Twitter . "It's about a former employee being bullied into silence. It's an age old story. Two people have the affair but only one gets kicked to the curb while the other gets to keep his job. The problem is, this is 2017 not 1977."

Esther also said, depending on the outcome of the conversation that they have with Andrew, she and her supporters would be reconsidering their membership position.

"You can't talk about the importance of diversity on the one hand but then on the other have a board member caught up in an affair like this. It's an anomaly.

"We plan to use the occasion to ask Andrew Ireland, who seems like a reasonable man, how Mr Worner can remain on the board," said Clerehan.

"We're not an angry posse of women. Just a few passionate supporters of the Swans who want a word with its CEO."

And it just keeps getting better. The club will ask him today to reconsider the "appropriateness" of remaining on the clubs' board, following immense pressure from L@SS to have him removed. On Monday night, the club chief executive was asked why Worner was an appropriate fit for the clubs' board.

“The difficulty you get to is, I don’t believe there is a position the club could reasonably take with Tim to say to him that he can’t be a director of this club," said Ireland.

“I think there are discussions that can take place about the appropriateness of being a director of this club, and I think those discussions are the appropriate way to deal with it. And the outcomes of those discussions, we’ll see over a period of time.

“One of the hardest issues to deal with in footy clubs. This is a very public one … On face value, I can only judge him on what he does here; Tim, as a director of the Sydney Swans football club, has been first class, and has done excellent work for us.

“That’s the starting point. His actions at Seven, he himself would admit aren’t great.

“In term of judgment around what he’s done in a legal sense, we can only go by what Seven says. In terms of drug use, which is probably one of two issues that I would have in terms of being a director of the club, he denies it emphatically.

“As a footy club, we’ll treat it in the way that’s appropriate … We’ve got a great track record of dealing appropriately with people who were close to us who haven’t been perfect.”

In MRP news, Zak Jones has been cleared of rough conduct, but has been offered a $1,000 fine. He would have been mad not to take it. A fraction earlier and he spoils the ball, and a fraction later he wipes out the player. It's a fine line at the highest level, and while clubs want players to toe the line, its inevitable that they cross it eventually. I don't think this is one of those occasions, but its right there on the edge.

Fortunately for Zak, Travis Cloke got up straight away, took his free kick and goalled. It didn't hold him back either. Had there been concussion, or a hit to the head, he would have been rubbed out.

And finally for today, Swans supporters will have the chance to farewell club champion Ben McGlynn and premiership hero Ted Richards on Friday night at the SCG. Richards and McGlynn will complete a lap of honour during the main break, having retired from the game in 2016. Richards played 261 game, 228 for the Swans and McGlynn played 171 games, 127 for the Swans.

Make sure you get to the SCG on Friday night to show your appreciation for those that bled red & white. While one was the hard-luck story of the 2012 premiership success, the other was a champion on the day, when the best forward in the competition threatened to win the game off his own boot.

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Justin Mitchell

Justin is a passionate AFL and Sydney Swans supporter, and football blogger since 2016. All articles are of his own opinion. You can reach him by twitter and Facebook at @theswansblog

Melbourne, Australia

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