The much anticipated television premiere of the Adam Goodes documentary has sparked an explosive reaction from fans, former players and high profile personalities in support of the AFL legend.
Social media went into uproar with an outpouring of emotion after The Final Quarter, based on the embattled Sydney Swans champion’s tumultuous end to his long career, aired on Thursday night.
The thought-provoking look back on the racism, bullying and abuse the indigenous dual Brownlow Medallist copped in his final three seasons sparked a wave of emotions, ranging from admiration, shame and anger to sadness, regret and disappointment.
Others disagreed, saying the Goodes was booed by opposition fans not for his race, but for his actions on the field.
The debate continued on air afterwards with a special edition of The Project hosted by Waleed Aly, where he was joined by AFL officials, former players, indigenous leaders and journalists.
A documentary on indigenous AFL legend Adam Goodes sparked an outpouring of emotions
Aly weighed into the debate by capping off the program with a question that left viewers pondering.
‘It seems that what began as personal torment for Adam quickly became a national controversy,’ he said.
‘The question now really is whether it can become a productive national conversation. And the answer to that question rests with each of us.’
Public reaction to The Final Quarter included admiration for the way Goodes handled himself during the turmoil to fury over controversial comments made at the time by high profile personalities Sam Newman and Eddie McGuire.
Waleed Aly hosted a special edition of The Project after The Final Quarter aired
Former teammate Jude Bolton has slammed the AFL over how it handled the saga at the time
There was also widespread anger at opposition fans, who booed Goodes for 17 games straight in 2015, which forced him to take leave from the game and retired just weeks later.
‘Hang your heads anyone who booed Adam Goodes. Weak as,’ one man tweeted.
Another fan tweeted: ‘At the start of#TheFinalQuarter I was full of admiration for Adams strength! By the end of it I was heartbroken and disgusted that he, who was SO strong, had been broken down so aggressively that he couldn’t play the game he loved and ended up fearing the relentless abuse.’
While the online reaction was overwhelmingly supportive of Goodes, not everyone shared the same feeling.
The controversial end of Adam Goodes’ career began in 2013, where he publicly called out a 13-year-old girl who called him an ape during an Indigenous Round match against Collingwood
Social media reaction to the documentary sparked a wave of emotions, ranging from admiration and anger to sadness, regret and disappointment
Former federal opposition leader turned One Nation NSW leader and upper house MP Mark Latham didn’t tune in on Thursday night and responded to a tweet from actor Sam Neill to explain why.
‘Fake News movie that didn’t even bother to ask those of us who booed him why we did it,’ he replied.
‘Stager, 13YO demoniser, Pollie on a footy field, Attacked out great country. Reason enough.’
Some viewers who did tune in were left unimpressed.
‘Nothing to do with the subject of#TheFinalQuarter but the documentary was absolutely terrible in the sense of I’ve seen and heard it all before, nothing was original or filmed FOR the doco it was all clips from YouTube. I’ve seen better work in year 12 media,’ one woman tweeted.
Adam Goodes and his wife Natalie recently welcomed their first child, daughter Adelaide
Outspoken senator Mark Latham weighed into the debate with some controversial comments
The Sydney Swans urged fans watching the documentary to share a photo of a We With Adam sign, along with the hashtag.
The social media post was not only shared by thousands of fans but also rival clubs, including Carlton and Brisbane.
The Australian Wallabies rugby union team also shared the post.
The AFL appealed to fans to send though its views, weeks after it issued an unreserved apology to Goodes over the turmoil he experienced at the time.
Former Swans teammate Jude Bolton slammed the AFL on how the governing body responded to the controversy at the time when he appeared on post-documentary edition of The Project.
‘The overarching sort of feelings and emotions during that film was just the immense sadness, but then just the extreme anger,’ he said.
‘[The AFL’s] silence was deafening and I think that’s the biggest regret.
‘The biggest issue is they didn’t inject themselves into the conversation.’
This post by the Swans on Thursday night was shared by thousands of fans and rival clubs
Bolton took to Twitter afterwards to pay tribute to Goodes.
‘Hope many got to see and sat there with an open mind and reflected upon what sort of country we want Australia to be,’ he tweeted.
‘Doesn’t get any easier to see what Goodesy endured. He did it with grace and dignity. The boos lasted for too long, his legacy… longer.’
There was also regret and disappointment from former players and members of the media, wishing they’d done more to support him at the time.
‘Looking back now as a past Indigenous player, I felt that if I had my time again, I would’ve done something about it,’ former player and Brownlow Medallist Gavin Wanganeen said.
Adam Goodes was repeatedly booed by St Kilda fans in one of his last AFL games in 2015
Current players posted their public support for Goodes on Wednesday night.
‘What an amazing and powerful story! Adam is an amazing role model and leader!,’ GWS veteran Phil Davis tweeted
Teammate Dylan Buckey added: ‘Adam Goodes Film is such an eye opener.. shows that we all need to be educated on indigenous culture and it should start in our schooling from a young age.’
Late on Thursday night, filmmaker Ian Darling said he hoped viewers watched his documentary with an open heart and mind.
A second documentary, The Australian Dream will premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival on August 1, where Goodes revisits the 2013 incident where he publicly called out a teenage Collingwood fan after she called him an ‘ape’ during the Indigenous round.
Channel Ten aired a special edition of The Project following The Final Quarter documentary
THE AFL’S FULL APOLOGY TO ADAM GOODES
‘The Australian Football League and the 18 AFL Clubs have come together to make this statement on behalf of our members, administrators, staff and players.
‘The history of the game says that Australian Rules has officially been played for 161 years.
‘Yet, for many years before, Aboriginal history tells us that traditional forms of football were played by Australia’s first peoples all over Australia, most notably in the form of Marngrook in the Western Districts of Victoria. It is Australia’s only Indigenous football game – a game born from the ancient traditions of our country. It is a game that is proudly Australian.
‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players are some of the most extraordinary players that the game has seen, and football has played a part in positive social change for many people and communities.
‘2019 will see the release of two important films about football, racism and discrimination. The films focus on the treatment of Adam Goodes, one of the game’s greatest champions, and tell the story of Australia’s history with the First Peoples of this land.
‘Through Adam’s story, we see the personal and institutional experience of racism. We see that Australia’s history of dispossession and disempowerment of First Nation’s people has left its mark, and that racism, on and off the field, continues to have a traumatic and damaging impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players and communities.
‘The treatment of Adam challenges us, and our right to be considered Australia’s indigenous football code. Adam, who represents so much that is good and unique about our game, was subject to treatment that drove him from football. The game did not do enough to stand with him and call it out.
‘We apologise unreservedly for our failures during this period.
‘Failure to call out racism and not standing up for one of our own let down all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, past and present.
‘Our game is about belonging. We want all Australians to feel they belong and that they have a stake in the game. We will not achieve this while racism and discrimination exists in our game.
‘We pledge to continue to fight all forms of racism and discrimination, on and off the field.
‘We will stand strongly with all in the football community who experience racism or discrimination.
‘We will listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players and communities to learn about the impact of racism and in doing so, we will gain a deeper understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
‘We will continue to work to ensure a safe and inclusive environment wherever our game is played.
‘And we urge all Australians, and in particular our supporters and fans, to see these films with open hearts and minds and learn from the experience and leadership of Adam Goodes, just as we are.
‘We are unified on this, and never want to see the mistakes of the past repeated.’