Main content

The biggest since Lockett: Crowds flock to the SCG

Post-match: Swans Watch Sydney Swans coach John Longmire's post-match press conference
Lance Franklin of the Swans celebrates a goal during the 2014 AFL Round 13 match between the Sydney Swans and Port Adelaide Power at the SCG, Sydney on June 14, 2014. (Photo: Craig Golding/AFL Media)
Lance Franklin kicked five goals in front of more than 40,000 fans at the SCG
LANCE Franklin is quickly proving to be the Pied Piper of Sydney, with the key forward's arrival leading to the biggest crowd seen at the Swans' home ground since Tony Lockett was strutting his stuff at the SCG.
 
Widely criticised for their nine-year, $10 million investment in Franklin, the club always stated that memberships and ticket sales would be part of the way it intended to recoup some of that seemingly risky investment.

 
A record membership has already been achieved and against Port Adelaide on Saturday, a crowd of 41,317 represented the third biggest home and away attendance at the ground, and the fourth biggest ever.
 
Only two home games against Geelong in 1997 (46,168 fans) and 1996 (44,047), plus that famous preliminary final victory over Essendon also in 1996 when Lockett kicked the match-sealing point (41,731), drew a bigger audience to Sydney than on Saturday.
 
Against Port, they witnessed a contest that is sure to bring them and more back to the ground in the future, with Franklin kicking some stunning goals en route to a 14.14 (98) to 13.16 (94) victory.
 
Franklin isn't the only reason the fans are coming, with the Swans playing a superb style of football, aided by fellow stars Adam Goodes, Josh Kennedy, Kieren Jack et al.
 
But Franklin can do things few others in the AFL can.
 
The superstar played in front of crowds in excess of 100,000 during his long, successful time with Hawthorn, but he felt Saturday's game generated just as much noise.
 
"I think so," Franklin said. "The smaller ground, 41,000 screaming for you and the team, is something very special.
 
"I can't wait to get back here and play in front of our home crowd again and see all our supporters here in force."
 
It was a crowd that didn't go unnoticed by Swans coach John Longmire, who seemed keen to thank each and every one of them.
 
"When you're playing in front of your biggest crowd for 20 years, 41,000, I thought that was a sensational effort for our blokes to be able to play in front of a crowd like that," he said.
 
"Our supporters today were sensational and when you win by a kick, every one counts."
 
There was plenty on the line on Saturday, with both teams coming into the game in excellent form and keen to extend their long winning streaks.
 
In the end, Franklin's class proved the difference as the Swans took their winning run to eight, ending Port's on the same number.
 
Longmire gave plenty of credit to his opponents, but like everyone else at the ground, he knew who had carried his side across the line.
 
"We played a good, hard brand of footy and so did Port Adelaide," Longmire said.
 
"They were really good today. They had a really good team in and were really good as well.
 
"There wasn't much in it and when it's so tight and both teams are having a real crack, to have Lance bob up and do what he did in the last quarter, helps you get over the line clearly."
 
He finished with 5.4, guilty of some missed shots early on before kicking five after half-time.
 
Limited by a knee injury early in his time in Sydney, Franklin has been able to train freely in recent weeks and the results have been telling.
 
The 27-year-old has kicked 17 goals in his past four games and is starting to reach a groove with his new teammates.
 
"I've been able to get on the track and training with the boys consistently over the last four weeks," he said.
 
"I've been playing better football the last couple of weeks because of that.
 
"It wasn't there in the first half for me, I was missing a lot of shots and it would've been nice to kick four in the first half.
 
"But my work-rate was up in the second half and I was lucky enough to kick a couple of goals in the last half.
 
"It was a great team effort from all the boys again."
 
He also had a telling comment that could strike some fear into the rest of the competition.
 
"I hope my best is still to come," he said.
 
"There's still a lot of the season to go and the finals to go too, so we just look forward to the back half of the season."