AFL legend in waiting Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin will not be in Melbourne this weekend and will not take his place in the retiring players’ motorcade on Grand Final day.
Franklin brought his decorated playing career to a close with immediate effect after injuring his calf in Round 20 against Essendon.
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It was long questioned whether Franklin would be a part of the festivities and take the opportunity to say goodbye to the football world at the MCG on the biggest day of the year.
Outgoing AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan remained hopeful on Wednesday that Franklin would accept the invitation, issuing a public plea to the AFL great to come and say goodbye to the game.
“Buddy, we‘d love you to be here on Saturday,” McLachlan said.
“100,000 supporters at the ‘G and millions of fans Australia-wide would love to say goodbye to you because you’ve been one of the greatest players the game has seen.
“He’s one of the most remarkable players we have seen and there’s been no bigger name in football over the last 20 years.
“I think the fans would love to see him and send him off appropriately in as many ways as they can.”
But he won’t be a part of the traditional motorcade of retirees on grand final day.
Franklin’s close friend and Fox Footy analyst Jordan Lewis revealing on AFL 360 that the 36-year-old had opted to remain on the Gold Coast where he and his family have retired to.
“I spoke to him Tuesday and he didn‘t make the trip down, that’s OK” Lewis said on Fox Footy.
He was a notable absentee at Hawthorn’s 10-year premiership reunion celebrations, opting to miss both the official club function and the private players gathering later in the week.
He said his goodbyes to football in Round 24 at the SCG when he did a lap of honour in front of the Sydney faithful, where he played the final 10 years of his career.
Originally published as ‘Didn’t make the trip’: AFL plea for Buddy Franklin farewell fails