Jarryd Roughead’s match-winner at the SCG is going to take some beating as far as feel-good stories go this AFL season.
Roughead converted a set shot from beyond the 50m arc with 80 seconds remaining on Friday night, handing Hawthorn a six-point win over Sydney.
He celebrated jubilantly. And rightly so.
The clutch captain’s goal came almost a year to the date he was diagnosed with a recurrence of melanoma, with cancer having spread to his lung.
Roughead successfully recovered and has led the Hawks to four wins this year; the most recent no doubt being the sweetest.
“It’s been a tough road for him,” Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said.
“Whether it’s injury or illness, this game teaches you to build character and demonstrate resilience. The really mentally tough can withstand the rigours of the game.
“But (Lance Franklin) had that little tough patch in his life too. Those two lads, they’ve enjoyed a lot of success in the game but also had tough periods in their lives.
“It’s pleasing that they’ve come out the other side and become stronger and better people.”
Franklin took time out of the sport and missed the 2015 finals because of mental health issues. The champion forward was back to his best in 2016 and continues to shine.
Franklin booted five goals against his former side on Friday night, dished off a couple and created plenty of headaches with his frenzied pressure.
Clarkson admitted he had mixed feelings about the form of Franklin, who won the Goodes-O’Loughlin medal for best on ground.
“Sometimes it’s a little bit hard to admire when you’re an opposition coach,” he laughed of Franklin, who won two flags and played 182 games with the Hawks.
“He just consistently does brilliant things. He’ll probably continue to do that for a long time for the Sydney footy club.
“He’s a great servant of both clubs. I’m pleased to see him doing well, pleased to see he’s really content and happy in his life.
“He’s still really close to a lot of people at our football club, particularly the players … we wish him well.
“It made it all the more pleasing in a sense, that he was able to have a significant contribution but we were able to still win.”
Franklin now sits 10th on the list of VFL/AFL goalkickers, having lifted his career tally to 819.
“He was enormous,” Swans coach John Longmire said of his star charge.
“He was very rarely beaten in one on ones, one on twos, one on threes.”