‘Boosy’ fans need to have a Goodes hard look
ADAM Goodes collects 14 touches during a 2008 game against Geelong at Kardinia Park.
And almost every one of them is accompanied by a chorus of boos from Cats fans after they believed he had delivered a cheap shot on Geelong captain and resident tagger Cameron Ling.
Six years on and Richmond fans vent their displeasure at Goodes during the final round of the 2014 season by booing him at every opportunity after they thought he had staged for a free kick against Tigers fullback Alex Rance.
Fair enough too.
Last weekend West Coast fans boo Goodes whenever he goes near the ball at Subiaco for ... well, it's anyone's guess.
Is he a former Eagle? No. Did he hit anyone? No. Did he stage for a free kick? No.
But he is a champion of a sport played in a country renowned for its tall poppy syndrome, and an Australian of the Year and community leader who is passionate and outspoken about his indigenous heritage.
And most significantly, he has been bearing the brunt of what has become a vicious trend that has swept grounds wherever the Swans have played - booing Adam Goodes.
Whether it's directed at him because he's perceived as "playing the victim" off the field as much as he plays for frees on it, it's become relentless - embarrassing for the game and, more seriously, clearly damaging to one of its true greats.
Ahead of his 350th match late last year he said the booing directed at him didn't bother him, describing it as "a mark of respect".
But it has lifted in intensity this season. He's been copping it more than those footballers that fans have annually voted the most disliked - think Fremantle pair Hayden Ballantyne and Ryan Crowley or St Kilda's Stephen Milne.
Whether you believe those who pay good money to go and watch games have every right to boo whomever they like, you have to respect the wishes of Goodes and those officials, coaches and players who have been so united this week in condemning what is now being seen as an extreme case of bullying, and asking for it to stop.
A two-time Brownlow Medallist, two-time premiership player, Rising Star winner ... few footballers have been more decorated than Goodes.
And while a 13th finals series beckons, he doesn't deserve to go out like this - booed into retirement.
No one can fully understand what Goodes is going through, and while he won't be 'representing' this weekend, we can only hope that he hasn't played his last game, for his sake and the reputation of footy fans.
We need to know they have heeded the AFL's message. And, if they haven't, whether the greater good combats their boos by drowning them out with cheering, or, as a last resort, players make the ultimate stand by walking from the ground.
Hopefully they will be put to the test back at the cauldron that is Kardinia Park when the Swans - with Goodes wearing the familiar No.37 - head there next week to face the Cats.
WHAT THE SWANS SAID ...
"The booing emanates because he's not a quiet indigenous person. Adam was Australian of the Year, he made some comments. I thought they were really appropriate, I thought he balanced being a strong Indigenous leader with being a proud Australian. Some people though don''t like it."
- Chief executive Andrew Ireland.
"It's terrible to see a mate who is in distress. We're all supporting him and we're all behind him which is why we're all here today. His well-being is at the forefront of our mind."
- Co-captain Jarrad McVeigh.
"I think he will come back at this point. He was pretty shaken up on Tuesday. He just needed a few days and some time out ... we'll see what happens after that."
- Senior coach John Longmire.
WHEN CROWDS TURN ON CHAMPIONS
Fremantle supporters boo then West Coast captain Chris Judd after winning the Glendinning Medal for being best-afield in a 2006 derby.
Collingwood fans boo Hawthorn's Sam Mitchell the week after he made his jab jibe at Essendon players this season.
West Coast supporters boo Essendon skipper Jobe Watson during a game 2013 at the height of the supplements saga.
Western Bulldogs fans boo Gary Ablett in his first game back in Melbourne as a Gold Coast Suns player in 2011.