Former Sydney Swans skipper Kieren Jack great has opened up on the Adam Goodes racism saga and what he would have done differently.
Former Sydney Swans skipper Kieren Jack great has opened up on the Adam Goodes racism saga and what he would have done differently.

AFL great’s ‘disgraceful’ Goodes saga anger

Retired Sydney Swans great Kieren Jack has given his perspective on the treatment of Adam Goodes during the racism storm that ultimately ended the dual-Brownlow Medallist's career.

Goodes was driven into early retirement as he regularly copped racist abuse over the final three seasons of his career, acts which were documented in two documentaries last year with The Final Quarter and The Australian Dream.

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The AFL even apologised after the release of the documentaries to the 372-game veteran. Former Swans skipper Jack said the suggestion from the league to stay quiet and hope the booing and abuse went away was the wrong call.

Speaking on Channel 9 sports reporter Jack Duke's podcast  Refuse To Lose, Jack admitted he didn't know the right way to deal with the issue at the time.

He said and his former Swans co-captain Jarrad McVeigh after he saw The Final Quarter believed they didn't do enough to help Goodes.

"We constantly had talks with him, we were always talking to him, 'mate, are you OK? What do you want us to do?'," Jack said. "Basically being told by him and what the club was trying to tell us to do and what the AFL were trying to do to make it stop, they were like let's not give this any air, don't talk about, let's hope that it dies down and in hindsight it was the absolutely wrong thing to do. We should have stood up earlier to it."

Goodes during the West Coast Game at Subiaco Oval in 2015.
Goodes during the West Coast Game at Subiaco Oval in 2015.

Jack also pointed to a moment in The Final Quarter with Goodes fronting a media gaggle of 20 journalists at a recovery session as a moment he wished he stood alongside Goodes.

"We should have been there, we should have even stood behind him," Jack said. "At some point we had to make a stand because inevitably it was going to break him and it did in the end."

Jack said the 2015 round 17 game against West Coast at Subiaco Oval was the "final straw" for Goodes.

Fellow Indigenous AFL star Lewis Jetta performed a war dance to celebrate a goal and hit back at fans who had booed Goodes throughout the game.

It was a dark day for the AFL with many commentators slamming the crowd's behaviour towards Goodes.

"West Coast is hostile at its best, but I've never experienced anything like the hostility that was at that game that day," Jack said.

"There were spotfires coming off the ground with fans and Lewis Jetta was almost getting in fights with people who were yelling the most outrageous stuff at him and after that Goodsey took some time away.

"For a guy like that to end his career, 372 games, dual Brownlow medallist, one of the greatest ever to play the game, without having the chance to say goodbye to fans because he thought he'd be received the wrong way and he didn't go on the parade on Grand Final day because he actually felt like he would be booed in front of everyone, that's disgraceful.

"It's absolutely disgraceful, it's been a blight on the game. I fear that we're just going to forget about it because he's retired and moved on, but we should never forget about it."

Goodes did return but ended his AFL career at the end of 2015.
Goodes did return but ended his AFL career at the end of 2015.

Jack also praised Jetta for his war dance back at the crowd and was a powerful moment standing up to the abuse.

After Goodes stepped away from the game, the Swans held a press conference to "call it what it is" but the abuse didn't calm down until after he retired.

Jack said he was proud of the Swans press conference but it should have been earlier.

He said saying nothing meant the abuse "got louder".

Goodes did return but retired at the end of the 2015 season when the Swans were eliminated by North Melbourne in the second week of the finals but Jack said Goodes' legacy has emboldened other Indigenous players to call out racism.

"I look back on that and I hope it never ever happens again, I hope that it doesn't. I think it may do and it still is happening, we've seen it with Eddie Betts, but I think how we deal with it will always be different because of how we dealt with Adam," he said.

"And I know the Indigenous boys when we go away on camps every year and what Adam has enabled them to do is give them confidence to stand up to anything racial, anything where they feel like they've been undermined.

"They've got the confidence now to do it because of what he's started, whereas I think they were always scared to some degree to stand up and point it out and I think that's been systemic in sports for a long time. And what he's started is hopefully a movement where they feel confident and everyone else should feel confident to call it out for what it is because it doesn't belong anywhere in society."

Originally published as AFL great's 'disgraceful' Goodes saga anger



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