• Adam Goodes - 300 Games

    By Alison Zell

    Adam Goodes is a dual Brownlow medallist, three-time all-Australian, two time Bob Skilton medallist, Sydney Swans co-captain, AFL Rising Star Award winner and indigenous team of the century player. But this week North Melbourne coach Brad Scott labelled Goodes an underrated player. And he may just have a point.

    In 299 games, football followers have been dazzled by Goodes? almost unmatchable speed, versatility and astonishing class. It has been on display in many of his 349 goals and in countless more that he has delivered to his teammates. But Scott?s point was that Goodes? brilliance lies more in his impact on the structure of the entire Sydney Swans team and his influence on the outcome of every game that the Swans play. At his best, Adam Goodes is unstoppable. And he has been at his best for a very long time.

    It was a split second decision that introduced Adam Goodes to Aussie Rules football, as he told Time Out Sydney this year:

    ?We moved around a lot as kids and, almost without exception, I was the only black kid at school and on the football team. When I got to high school the principal introduced me to some kids to be my new friends. In the bus shelter they lit up yandi [cannabis] and offered me a puff. Nearby on the oval some kids were kicking a Sherrin. I?d never smoked marijuana and to that point I?d only played soccer. But a kick was a kick, so I walked to the oval and said: ?Can I join in?? That decision changed my life.?

    Adam Goodes was a solid junior footballer. The Goodes family moved from South Australia to Horsham in central west Victoria in the mid 90s where Adam played football at high school and represented the Big V at under 16 and under 18 levels. He was known for his leap and work ethic but spent most of his junior career at centre half back. It was a move to the forward line for the 1997 TAC Cup Grand Final where Goodes showed a glimmer of the star he could be, kicking six goals and leading the North Ballarat Rebels to the premiership.

    By all reports, Goodes dominated that 1997 Grand Final. He starred on the last Saturday in September on the MCG with what would become trademark long leads, strong marks and of course, great goals. Goodes missed a few games through injury that year and he was only 17 but it will always remain a mystery how all of the 16 clubs determined that 42 players were better than Adam Goodes in the 1997 AFL Draft. Although there were some impressive players taken before Goodes ? Johnstone, Ottens, Tarrant, Medhurst, Power and Black to name a few ? none of them quite measure up to Goodes.

    Former Rebels coach Garry Fletcher told The Courier this week that Goodes was - even then - more than just a promising talent. ?He?s an outstanding person and that?s exactly the way he was when I first met him at 15 or 16. He?s always been able to get on with people well, he?s always had a great work ethic, he?s always been enthusiastic and he?s always been a team player,? said Fletcher.

    Luckily this was something the Sydney Swans also noticed, albeit not until after they had secured Jason Saddington and Fred Campbell. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and looking back, it could be considered one of the best third round picks ever, although it still took a while for Goodes to really shine. He spent all of the 1998 season in the reserves but broke into the seniors in style in 1999, winning the AFL Rising Star Award ahead of the likes of Luke Power, Nick Davis, Lenny Hayes and Simon Black. In 2000 and 2001 it was obvious the Swans had a talented youngster on their hands and although it was clear Goodes could play a variety of positions, no one knew where he best fit. He played every game in this period and as the coaching reins were passed from Rodney Eade to Paul Roos in 2002, Goodes found himself in the ruck a lot more.

    To say that Goodes? form improved dramatically with this positional change would be an understatement ? it could be argued that this move to the ruck was the catalyst for his Brownlow Medal win in 2003. Roos? rise to head coach also coincided with a change in the leadership structure at the Swans and the introduction of a leadership group. Goodes believed he deserved to be there and when he missed out, he was forced to reassess his status at the club. Close friend and teammate Michael O?Loughlin told The Sydney Morning Herald that this snub helped make Goodes the footballer, and person, he is today.

    ?He wanted to be in it [the leadership group], but the perception was he needed to change a few things. He took that on board and you saw this strong, steely resolve. He doesn't like losing, and we all get a bit obsessive, we all want to win and he is no different, but he just changed the perception, had a fantastic 2003, won the Brownlow, and more importantly showed that he was a leader at the club, and was soon into the leadership group,? said O?Loughlin.

    Goodes played in the ruck for significant parts of the 2003 season and his consistency, which saw him collect Brownlow votes in 11 games, played a critical role in the Swans revival and eventual Preliminary Final spot that year. At the time Goodes credited Roos with letting him ?just go out and play footy like in your school days?. Goodes polled 22 votes in a three-way tie with Nathan Buckley and Mark Ricciuto and accepting his medal, Goodes was his usual humble self. ?I just can't believe it,? Goodes said, ?I just can't believe I?m standing up here with Nathan Buckley and Mark Ricciuto.?

    2004 was a challenging year for Goodes after falling awkwardly in a ruck contest during a game against West Coast and injuring his knee. Many expected Goodes would need season-ending surgery but he battled through and remarkably, didn?t miss a single game although it would be the last time he would ever play in the ruck at a centre bounce. He moved to the backline for the remainder of the 2004 season and then had a go through the midfield in 2005. He was an important contributor in the Grand Final win with 20 disposals and a goal, while also notching up his 150th game that year.

    In Round 7, 2006 Goodes played his 150th consecutive match and later that year he would add another highlight to an already decorated career. With the Swans at the height of the AFL competition, Goodes? profile rose higher and higher (and deservedly so). His 2006 season was astounding. Goodes polled 12 of 15 votes in five rounds before the mid-year break, polled again in round 15 and came home with votes in rounds 17, 19, 20, 21, and 22. He didn't have fewer that 24 possessions in the final four rounds and the umpires rewarded him accordingly with 12 votes in the last six games. Goodes became just the 12th man in history to secure his second Brownlow Medal, the first Aboriginal to win two and the first player to win two with a non-Victorian club. And unsurprisingly, Goodes was still striving for improvement.

    ?It's been proven since 2003 I've improved and this year I've played in the midfield and I'd like to think with another couple of years in the midfield I could improve again,? said Goodes at the time.

    He didn?t quite hit the heights of his Brownlow winning form in 2007 although he finished the year incredibly strongly, receiving 16 of a possible 18 Brownlow votes in the last six games of the year. 2008 saw Goodes miss games through injury and suspension for the first time since 2000 but he also spent more and more time up forward including a spectacular eight goal haul against Fremantle. He was back to his best in 2009 as he achieved what he had strived for many years earlier when he was named co-captain of the Swans. Barry Hall?s mid-season departure saw Goodes become more and more integral to the Swans? forward line and he finished the year in the All Australian team for the third time (2003, 2006 & 2009).

    By 2010 Goodes was well and truly established as a true superstar of the competition, averaging almost 20 disposals and two goals a game. This season has only seen Goodes? on-field and off-field talents grow. He clocked the fastest time over 20m in pre-season, beating the likes of Gary Rohan and Lewis Jetta and he looks in peak physical condition. This week will see Adam Goodes becomes the eighth youngest player in history to reach the 300 game mark, which he has done in 12 years and 172 days ? the fastest in history. In his 304th game he will take over from Michael O?Loughlin as the Swans? games record holder. And if Goodes has his way, he?s not going to stop anytime soon.

    ?Age is just a number to me. I'm 31 and feel as fit and healthy as some of our 19, 20-year-old kids running around,? he said this week. ?There's no doubt we've got a lot of those kids at our football club these days and they definitely keep me mentally young anyway.?

    Everyone knows Adam Goodes is a superstar on the field but he is almost equally as impressive off the field. He has worked tirelessly with Indigenous youths, is a member of the National Indigenous Council and set up the Goodes/O?Loughlin foundation to enable a brighter future for indigenous Australians, creating a link between Indigenous Australia and Corporate Australia.

    While Scott?s comments may seem ridiculous to some, should Goodes win another Brownlow before his career is out, he would join elite company in Haydn Bunton, Dick Reynolds, Ian Stewart and Bob Skilton. Adam Goodes has achieved nearly everything the game has to offer and has done it with humility and grace. He is a player that other players find themselves watching on the field and all fans delight in watching him play. A Sydney Swans team without Goodes seems unfathomable and it may not be until he hangs up the boots that we see the real worth of Adam Goodes in the hole he leaves behind. The future of the Swans is almost blindingly bright but we have never seen a player like Adam Goodes, and it?s been a long time since we?ve seen a Sydney Swans side without him.

    Adam Goodes could be considered one of the league?s most underrated players because it is simply impossible to fully appreciate all that he has achieved in and for this game. One thing is certain ? you could never overrate Adam Goodes.
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. dimelb's Avatar
      dimelb -
      Thanks Alison - a fine tribute and a lovely piece of work.
    1. ScottH's Avatar
      ScottH -
      Outstanding Player, and an outstanding Article Alison.You certainly have a talent for writing and researching!!
    1. ShockOfHair's Avatar
      ShockOfHair -
      Nice story on a deserving subject.
    1. AnnieH's Avatar
      AnnieH -
      I'm going to cry.Thanks Ali.
    1. Frog's Avatar
      Frog -
      Thanks Alison. As always, a great article.
    1. alison.z's Avatar
      alison.z -
      Quote Originally Posted by AnnieH View Post
      I'm going to cry.Thanks Ali.
      Haha sorry!!
    1. ugg's Avatar
      ugg -
      Great article alison, I picked up a lot of information about Adam that I wasn't previously aware of.
    1. Lucky Knickers's Avatar
      Lucky Knickers -
      What a well researched and written tribute to Goodesy. Well done Alison. I think that's going to tough for even you to top.

      (I think that's two holes in the ground).
    1. On-Baller's Avatar
      On-Baller -
      Great article,heres a link to some interviews from SEN today one with Roosy who talk's about Goodesy's great career and impact on the club and the man himself.

      SEN SportSENtral > Audio

      and one with Brett Kirk about how his Swans defeated the Eagles in a final at Subiaco in 2006, a feat Carlton is aiming to repeat on Saturday, and Adam Goodes' 300th match.

      SEN SportSENtral > Audio
    1. ScottH's Avatar
      ScottH -
      Just bumping this great article from Alison for those that may have missed it last year.
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