Buddy Franklin to return to MCG as Hawthorn drop huge news about retired AFL champion

Hawks fans will get the chance to farewell the legendary forward in Melbourne.

Buddy Franklin will be back at the MCG on Sunday during Hawthorn's clash with the Swans, giving Hawks fans the chance to farewell the AFL champion in Victoria. Franklin retired from the AFL last year and was given an emotional send-off at the SCG during a Sydney Swans game late in the season.

But fans in Victoria never got a chance to show their appreciation. Franklin played 172 games for the Swans, but he also made 182 appearances for Hawthorn and is considered a legend at both clubs.

The Hawks announced on Tuesday that Franklin will make a special appearance at the MCG on Sunday at half-time of the game between his former clubs. Channel 7 reporter Mitch Cleary revealed that Franklin is expected to attend the President’s function before the game and will speak to fans at some stage throughout the match.

Buddy Franklin at the SCG with his family.
Buddy Franklin was given an emotional farewell at the SCG in front of Sydney Swans fans. Image: Getty

It marks somewhat of a coup for the Hawks, with Franklin preferring to stay away from the limelight since his retirement. He didn't even attend his own retirement press conference with the Swans, and opted against taking part in the motorcade for retired players at the grand final in September.

Cleary revealed that Hawthorn CEO Ashley Klein managed to get the Franklin appearance over the line and 'twisted his arm'. The Hawks wrote in a message to fans: "Witness a champion's return and cheer him on one last time." Fans were delighted to hear about Franklin's upcoming appearance at the MCG, where he kicked 342 of his 1066 career goals.


The latest development comes after AFL legend Leigh Matthews made startling claims last month that Sydney are "better off" without Franklin despite his talismanic standing in the game. Journalist Tom Morris also suggested the 37-year-old had worn out his welcome in Sydney and the Swans "grew tired" of the veteran forward.

“The Swans would never say this publicly because Buddy was so good for them for so long, but make no mistake, the Swans had had enough of Buddy last year,” Morris said. “They were ready to move on from Buddy last year and the fact that he retired without a press conference makes me think he was done with the Swans as well. It was time to part ways.”

Buddy Franklin with his wife and kids.
Buddy Franklin with his family at the SCG in 2023.

But according to Swans coach Longmire, that's not the case at all. "We hadn't had enough of Lance," Longmire said when asked about the reports. "Lance has been one of the most popular players we've had at this football club, and certainly one of the best players I've ever coached.

"He was a super player for us and I had a great relationship with him which I will always treasure. His ability to contribute to our footy club, on and off the field, was absolutely significant. He was 36 (when he retired). You know, strangely enough you get to the stage where you go and do other things."

Buddy Franklin.
Buddy Franklin will be farewelled at the MCG as well.

Matthews said it was "sacrilegious" to suggest, but declared: "The Swans are better without Buddy Franklin. You are talking the veteran Buddy Franklin, the 36-year-old, but him retiring and going out of the Swans team means they have a big chunk of salary cap money, which enabled them to get Brodie Grundy.

“So I reckon minus Buddy, plus Grundy, is making the Swans a better team. They have stayed up around the mark for most of this century, the Swans. Their list management has been outstanding.

"I think the Grundy thing just sort of happened, but the fact that Buddy’s career had come to the end and they had the money to pay Brodie Grundy, who is not a superstar ruckman, but he is a really competitive one who helps at ground level. He is not that great in the air, okay at the hit outs, doesn’t mark the ball much, but gets in after the ball at ground level which helps the whole Swans’ clearance game. I think the Swans are better off for Brodie in and Buddy out.”