Swans on song with imposing double act
THE Sydney Swans have always been a box-office smash when they've been able to put on a show up forward.
It's not enough just being successful; they also need entertainers to keep those fans in such a fickle market interested in the club and the game.
And the Swans may just have put together a double bill to rival some of their greats since they relocated from South Melbourne in 1982.
Warwick Capper and his shorts, Tony Lockett and the pig, and Barry Hall and his fist are hard acts to follow, but the pairing of Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett for the first time last Friday night was compulsive viewing.
While they may have capitalised on a Hawthorn outfit undermanned down back and in the midfield, two monsters - the immovable Tippett (202cm, 104kg) and the athletic Franklin (197cm, 103kg) - working in tandem so well so early would have had rival outfits looking on in horror.
If the midfield supply from Kieren Jack (10 inside-50m entries) and Dan Hannebery (19 inside-50m entries between them) keeps up, opposition backlines are going to be in for a torrid time trying to stop 'Tip and Bud'.
They had 14 shots on goal, with Tippett kicking four goals and one out of bounds, and a nervous Franklin slotting seven behinds before finally finding the middle of the big sticks twice in the final term against his old side.
They combined for 15 marks, significantly eight of them contested and 10 inside the attacking 50m - Franklin (five and seven, respectively) hadn't produced such big numbers in those two areas in over two years.
It's a far cry from the Big Bad Bazza and Plugger show of 2002, when Hall arrived from St Kilda and Lockett came out of retirement - it lasted just three games after a 36-year-old Lockett could only produce one mark and three goals and realised the game had gone past him.
Tippett and Franklin have been dubbed the Bondi Billionaires due to earning somewhere in the vicinity of a million each per season ... give or take a few thousand. But they may end up justifying their huge salaries if they can get the turnstiles ticking over.
The Swans haven't played in front of more than 50,000 at home at ANZ Stadium in six years, since Hall headlined. And while they were averaging a crowd of around 40,000 at the SCG in the late-'90s to see Plugger, they have only topped the 35,000 mark there six times since his (first) retirement in 1999.
Sydney takes its show on the road tonight when hosted by Essendon at Docklands.
Don't expect anything like the rout in round 17 1987 when, under the guidance of the late great Tom Hafey and led by Capper, the Swans kicked a club record 36.30 (236) while inflicting the biggest ever loss on the Bombers, who managed 11.7 (73).
But, Essendon backmen Michael Hurley, Dustin Fletcher and Cale Hooker may have had some trouble sleeping last night. Well ... maybe not 39-year-old Fletcher, who's battled both Lockett and Hall in the past, but certainly Hooker, who probably still has nightmares about giving chase to Franklin, before the then Hawk booted the goal of season 2010.
Buddy averages five goals a game against the Bombers, and has booted 41 in his last six, bookended by hauls of eight last year and nine in '07 when announcing himself.