It’s been one hell of a journey for Adam Goodes. Or ‘Goodies’, as his name was read out as by Sydney recruiters during the 1997 National Draft, where the then-long-haired, bearded 17-year-old was drafted by the Sydney Swans.
It came after slotting six goals from anywhere and everywhere in North Ballarat’s Grand Final. Ability was never something you could question of him.
He played 20 games in 1999, impressing as a versatile asset. In fact, he played well enough to win the Rising Star award.
He followed up with 95 goals over the next three years, and for his young type to not just be a member of, but a leading contributor of the Swans’ best 22, showed his ability to apply himself was another fantastic attribute of his.
And, after being left out of the leadership group in 2003, he pushed that concept further.
His resultant Brownlow Medal, earned playing through the ruck and midfield, will sit comfortably as clear recognition of that, amongst his other accolades, including his 2005 premiership medal and a second Brownlow in 2006, the former time as a midfielder and forward.
It proved his versatility and, alongside the form he maintained, his toughness, especially when you factor in that he never played less than 20 games in one season until this year, missing 6 with a torn quadriceps.
That’s a fair feat of durability and consistency, especially in a side that demands so much physically as Sydney has become renowned for.
Given that he polled nearly 20 Brownlow votes a year from 2006 to 2011, it’s something he can lay claim to more than most.
His ability to continue to perform every year, first as a ruck, then forward, then again as a ruck until developing into the tall half-forward/winger that we know today, is astounding. He’s been named in four different All-Australian positions from four overall selections as a result.
Continually performing is something that he struggled with this year, with his quadriceps letting him down, especially after his five fantastic games to start the season, in which he averaged 18 disposals and 2.4 goals per game.
The form he regained wasn’t Goodes, pardon the pun, with the below-average performances outnumbering the best ones, until a trip to Etihad Stadium to take on the Western Bulldogs.
Goodes took 11 marks, kicked 4 goals and gave off three more. It was a typical Goodes performance – characteristically classy yet dangerous – and it sparked a change in form.
With 34 disposals and 4 goals all up in games against Hawthorn and Geelong, 3 goals in a half to break Adelaide’s hearts and 25 disposals in the win over Collingwood, he was back, well and truly.
His mindset of maintaining that continued through to the Grand Final, until a knee injury meant him being taken from the field in the second quarter, with the word then being that the posterior cruciate ligament in his good knee was gone.
It wasn’t to faze him, and something that by all rights was medically all but impossible became Goodes’ reality.
Something that should result in six to eight weeks on the sidelines had Goodes off the field for a mere matter of minutes.
His 14 resulting disposals, on paper, isn’t a huge impact. However, being hindered from fully competing, utilising knock-ons and tapping to advantage, he recorded another three goal assists and a simple enough task of snapping a goal to put Sydney in front in the last quarter, albeit with a knee injury.
He was no match winner, but the work that he did do was outstanding and a new level of perseverance and excellence from the 32-year-old.
It’s something that can only be admired, and it’s something that holds enough weight and enough reasoning behind it to label him as one of, if not, the best Swan of all time.