HAVING ruffled plenty of feathers by defecting to the Sydney Swans just a couple of days after helping Hawthorn secure its 11th premiership, Lance Franklin chose to miss the Hawks' best and fairest function at Melbourne's Crown Casino on Saturday night.

And during the early stages of the event, it seemed his former club was carrying on as if Buddy had never existed.

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When the team that defeated Fremantle in the Grand Final was introduced to the adoring crowd in number order, host Craig Willis seamlessly went from "No.22, Luke Breust" to "No.24, Ben Stratton".

There was no mention of No.23, and no mention of the player who wore that guernsey in the big game.

But the mood changed when Hawthorn president Andrew Newbold stepped forward to deliver his address.

After congratulating retiring defender Brent Guerra on a great career, Newbold said, "I also want to wish Lance Franklin all the best in the future and thank him for his contribution to Hawthorn over nine years."

The neutral observers in the room waited for a round of booing to break out.

Instead, the crowd of about 1300 passionate Hawks fans cheered and clapped.

A short time later, flag-winning coach Alastair Clarkson took to the stage.

Just a few lines into his speech, Clarkson paid tribute to Franklin, who played 182 games and kicked 580 goals for Hawthorn between 2005 and this season, and who heads to Sydney with two premiership medals in his keeping.

"He's taken off to Sydney, we're disappointed with that, but we need to acknowledge just what a wonderful contribution Lance Franklin made to our footy club over a long period of time," Clarkson said.

Once again, people cheered and clapped.

Not only did Clarkson praise Franklin, he even introduced a tribute video, which featured a stream of highlights from the star forward's career in brown and gold.

To the strains of Green Day's song Time of Your Life, the crowd was treated to three minutes of Buddy's most spectacular exploits.

There was a loud cheer when his brilliant running goal against Essendon at the MCG in 2010 was shown, and there was a similar roar when a few of his 13 goals against North Melbourne in Launceston last year flashed up on the screen.

But when the Buddy love was done with, Clarkson summed up the feeling in the room.

"I'm not sure I'm going to be able to stomach the big fella wearing red and white next year," he said.

The murmur that went through the Palladium suggested most Hawthorn supporters feel exactly the same.

Twitter: @AFL_AdamMcNicol