ADAM Goodes has been well received by the Simonds Stadium crowd in his return to footy, with Sydney Swans coach John Longmire praising the "sensational" Geelong faithful for its defiant show of support.
Goodes made his much-anticipated comeback to the field in Saturday night's 32-point loss to Geelong after weeks of persistent booing saw him take a self-imposed break and miss last week's game against Adelaide.
No one quite knew how fans would greet the 35-year-old in his return, but the response was emphatic, and there seemed no better occasion to promote cultural diversity than in Multicultural Round.
Longmire paid tribute to the 27,910-strong crowd and said he hoped the booing would no longer take centre stage.
"From what I heard it was really respectful and a fantastic result from that perspective after a couple of tough weeks for Adam," Longmire said post-match.
"The Geelong crowd were sensational, led by the Geelong Football Club who contacted us two weeks ago, and they were fantastic all the way through.
"I hope that the whole football world and community in general can focus on the good things in footy."
Adam Goodes runs onto the ground at Simonds Stadium. Picture: AFL Media
Goodes battled hard on an otherwise tough night for the Swans, and finished with 12 disposals (11 kicks, one handball), six marks, six inside 50s, three tackles, one goal and one behind.
The highlight of Goodes' night came in the opening term after intercepting a short kick by Cameron Guthrie that was intended for Harry Taylor.
The dual Brownlow medallist used his closing speed to spoil the ball, before snapping a goal from 35m out to hand the Swans an 11-point lead.
The respectful crowd showed their appreciation as Goodes registered his first and only goal of the match.
Longmire gave a frank assessment of Goodes' individual performance.
"He didn't play a very good game but I'm not going to single him out. He had plenty of mates. We didn't have many players who played good games tonight," he said.
"His state of mind was fine before the game. He focused back on his footy."
The night began with a simultaneous show of solidarity for Goodes, as the Cats and Swans ran through a joint banner to the rapturous applause of the spectators.
The club captains – Joel Selwood and Jarrad McVeigh – led their teams through the banner that read, "respect, unity, fairness" in the centre.
The banner also acknowledged Selwood's 200th game and Swan Luke Parker's 100th game, but the milestones took more of a back seat.
Stadium LED signage around the ground displayed no Geelong-themed branding or advertising when the clubs entered the arena, but instead, the simple yet powerful words, "respect, unity, fairness" were displayed.
The unique entrance delivered a strong and unprecedented pre-game experience, one that promoted respect and acceptance for diversity.
Goodes, who sported yellow fluorescent boots, began in the forward line and was greeted by his opponent Jake Kolodjashnij. The pair shook hands before the commencement of the match.
The Swans' champion looked lively in the opening minutes of the game, but missed a couple of chances to take a mark inside attacking 50.
Goodes' first clear possession came with a pinpoint accurate short kick along the boundary line that found teammate Sam Reid at half-forward.
The reaction from the Simonds Stadium crowd was respectful, with no apparent booing when he had his hands on the ball for the first time.
Goodes was denied a running goal in the second quarter, when Taylor made a successful last-ditch effort to touch the ball on the goal line.
The 366-gamer was kept relatively quiet in the third quarter, adding four possessions and missing another opportunity to add a second goal to his name.
A left-foot snap shot in traffic by Goodes sailed wide and generated a loud reaction – mostly sarcastic cheers – from the fans that were pleased he had missed.
Although the veteran looked potent up forward on occasions, he often had little support in attack from his teammates.
A case in point came in the dying stages of the third term, when Goodes took a mark, assessed his options for several seconds and then thumped the ball inside 50 to a one-on-one contest.
Like much of the night, Goodes did not attract the jeers that had been a regular feature this season when he patiently looked for options further up the field.
The Swans' star showed glimpses of his best form in the final quarter. He kicked a long ball inside 50 – his fifth forward 50 entry for the game – with his side trailing by 20 points.
Goodes then showcased his dash and took a bounce near the boundary line, only to be tackled by Kolodjashnij and penalised for incorrect disposal to the joy of the home crowd.
Goodes and Cat Nakia Cockatoo shake hands post-match. Picture: AFL Media