AFL grand final: Lance Franklin invited for MCG farewell

Gillon McLachlan has made a last-ditch plea to Lance Franklin to be part of Saturday’s grand final motorcade so the goalkicking great can receive a final farewell from the MCG.

The departing AFL boss said he “hoped” to see the Hawthorn and Sydney legend at the pre-game ceremony on Saturday, with Franklin expected to be in Melbourne this week to reunite with his 2013 Hawks premiership teammates.

Franklin was absent from Hawthorn’s official premiership reunion on Tuesday night after uncertainty over whether he would attend, but teammates hoped to catch up with him at a more relaxed players-only gathering on Wednesday.

Triple premiership teammate Shaun Burgoyne told Seven News before Tuesday’s function that Franklin was expected to be at the private event.

“I don’t know actually if he’s coming (to the official reunion). It’ll be good to see him there, I’m not too sure,” Burgoyne said.

“But we’ve got a catch-up – there’s another one with players again (on Wednesday night) where we’ll reminisce about the old days.”

McLachlan addressed Franklin directly at a press conference on Wednesday to ask him to attend the Grand Final day celebrations.

“Buddy, we’d love you to be here on Saturday – 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 said.

He said he hoped Franklin would be part of the event but conceded he was an “elusive” figure.

“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,” McLachlan said.

“I think the fans would love to see him and send him off appropriately in as many ways as they can.”

The goalkicking great was not the only notable absence from Hawthorn’s premiership reunion, with coach Alastair Clarkson and star forward Cyril Rioli not attending amid the fallout from the Hawks’ racism investigation.

“(Clarkson) has obviously got his reasons why, I think they’re well documented,” Burgoyne said.

“That’s all you can take on board, he’s got his reasons why. At some stage he’ll catch up with players, cross paths in footy.

“Footy world’s a small world, you see each other all the time, so no doubt we’ll have a beer with him.”

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