Adam Goodes is an Australian I rate highly as not only a footballer but as a pillar of our society. His performances off the field are just as outstanding as those on it. Unfortunately, because of the continued racist abuse he receives from fans he may not grace the football field again.
Most games I’ve seen him play will at some stage see me applauding his legendary skill, but one game in 2008 I booed hysterically (at the TV in the comfort and safety of my lounge room) after he engaged in some fairly rough play . . . against a team I follow (hence the fanatical booing).
He was reported for the incident. To my dismay he beat the charge.
The Swans were playing the Lions the following week and Lion’s coach Leigh Matthews was incensed. He obviously didn’t want Goodes lining up against his team, and had this to say:
. . . Brisbane Lions coach Leigh Matthews described Sydney’s dual Brownlow Medallist Adam Goodes as a “protected species” before Saturday night’s Gabba clash.
Asked a seemingly innocuous question on Friday about who would play on the Swans’ danger man, Matthews made it clear what he thought of Goodes beating a striking charge at Wednesday’s AFL Tribunal hearing.
The not guilty verdict that allowed Goodes to line up for a club record-equalling 194th consecutive match clearly rubbed Matthews the wrong way.
“Many players are envious of Adam Goodes for many reasons. We hope that his protected species status ends when he comes over the white line,” Matthews said in Brisbane.
“I don’t know about the umpires (if he’s a protected species), but (at) the tribunal he certainly is.
“And he plays for the Swans so he’s got the double whammy.
“And he’s got the dual Brownlow Medallist `get out of jail free’ card, so he’s got them all.”
Wow. Yes, it was a big deal at the time. Imagine if he said that today!
But getting back to my point . . . I booed Adam Goodes. I’ve probably booed him a number of times since, and if he continues to play, which I truly hope he does, I will boo him again if he engages in play that is contrary to the rules of the game. I will boo any player for the same reason (except those on my own team, of course). And I will applaud Adam Goodes for his skills, as I would any player of any team (and especially mine, which goes without saying).
It would be sad if we couldn’t engage in some light-hearted or heartfelt booing if it is in the spirit of the game. It’s also sad that Indigenous players are subjected to racist taunts by fans and players.
But most of all, it is sad it has come to this.