Franklin one of WA's finest; Barich
Perth president Adrian Barich has paid tribute to Demons product Buddy Franklin, who ended a magnificent playing career with his retirement yesterday.
Before playing 354 games and becoming the seventh-ever player to kick a thousand goals at the top level, Franklin was zoned to the club due to hailing from Dowerin in their country zone.
Franklin played one league game for Perth before being drafted in 2004, with Barich telling Sports Breakfast his special talents were quickly apparent to all at the club.
“Buddy came to us via Wesley, he got a scholarship down there,” Barich said.
“He didn’t actually live in the town, he lived outside the town. The rabbit-proof fence actually ran through his property, so it’s reasonably remote.
“There was a shearing shed there and I believe in a Bradman-esque style, Buddy would spend hours and hours kicking a ball at the shed that had goalposts painted on it.
“Just a wonderful career and we can’t speak highly enough of the bloke. Super shy, super charismatic when you talk to him.
Perth have shown good signs at times this season but continue to lag behind the rest of the competition, sitting second-last with a percentage of 66.4%.
Barich said a long-term process would be required to get the club back to the top and legendary coach Peter German, in his first season with the club, was doing an excellent job.
“Our colts are still on top of the ladder, so we’re building from below, that’s been our plan. We have uncovered some great young people,” he said.
“Charlie Thompson’s come from the east and been sensational, it’s probably out of him and Jack Avery for the Butcher Medal, our best and fairest.”
“We’ve got a very, very young team, [we’re] building for the future. Lot of positivity down at the Demons, we’re ploughing on.”
Barich has been part of discussions around the WAFL’s future in recent weeks, with the WAFC tabling a report last month that said the competition was in decline and its long-term viability was under threat.
The Channel Seven sports presenter said he was open to suggestions to modernise the competition.
“That’s where the kids come through … that’s their pathway to the AFL, so it’s super important,” he said.
“[The report] says that men over 50 are the number one participants in terms of coming to the games and watching and then the next biggest group is men over 45, so we need to chip into families and younger people.
“Having said that, it’s a bloody good product. I just hope that it can be managed.”