A crowd of almost 25,000 stormed the SCG pitch on Friday night in one helluva tribute to Swans forward Lance “Buddy” Franklin’s monumental 1000th goal.
But who was missing from the action on the field? AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan, for one, who was stuck three floors up inside the Swans official box where fellow AFL executives had to “fight” to make sure he didn’t make the bolt downstairs onto the field. And who could blame him for wanting to join the spectacle which hasn’t hit the SCG since 1995?
Then again, McLachlan wasn’t the only sports boss or Swans heavyweight who had to keep a lid on their passion on Friday. Even Swans chair Andrew Pridham had to wait until well after the siren to make it down to the pitch. Turns out that officials and special guests on the night were told that while fans in the cheap seats were anticipated to flood the field after Franklin reached the milestone, the suits inside the official events and boxes were expected to hold back. Shame!
Stuck with McLachlan inside the Swans box was AFL’s chief financial officer Travis Auld and general manager of football Andrew Dillon – who are both regarded as potential McLachlan successors. The AFL’s communications boss Brian Walsh and government relations boss Jude Donnelly also made the trip to Sydney for the event. Meanwhile, a rotating cast of NSW heavyweights stopped by to pay a visit including Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany, Venues NSW chair and GWS Giants tragic Tony Shepherd and former Sydney Airport boss Kerrie Mather, who now heads Venues NSW. Inside the Arthur Morris Room, Pridham and Swans chief executive Tom Harley – a former Geelong captain himself – hosted the club’s official game night function. Geelong chief executive Steve Hocking was a notable presence alongside former Medibank chief executive Craig Drummond, who is now club president.
NSW Finance Minister Damien Tudehope and Vaucluse MP Gabrielle Upton repped the Liberals while Sports Minister Stuart Ayres was a late scratching. Also spotted: Swans club patrons Basil Sellers and Peter Weinert and usual suspects Swans directors including developer Greg Paramor, Newgate PR boss Brian Tyson and Korn Ferry vice chair Alexandra Goodfellow and Temple and Webster director Belinda Rowe.
DECKS AND DRIZZLE
A night earlier, it was clear skies on Sydney Harbour for the opening of Handa Opera’s latest al fresco production, Phantom of the Opera.
And just when we thought nothing could top the local production of the longest running show in musical history, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber went and did the unthinkable. After the premiere, the man responsible for Cats, Evita and Jesus Chris Superstar – and the soundtracks of your columnists’ youths – leapt up to entertain the crowd as a DJ in the music booth… resplendent in a suit and red headphones. And then… it rained. Guests on the evening said DJ Lloyd Webber played an electronic dance version of the musical’s greatest hits, only problem was that the second he hit the decks the heavens opened up. You can only get so lucky, we guess.
But the A-List guest list invited didn’t mind. Just ask former prime minister Tony Abbott and former Liberal foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop, who spent the evening deep in conversation with the ever-affable Midori Miyazaki who is the right-hand woman to the event’s impresario Haruhisa Handa.