John Longmire learnt harder and earlier than most just how good Adam Goodes would end up being.
In his last year as a player in 1999, North Melbourne veteran Longmire participated in a practice match in sweltering conditions in south-western Sydney, lining up on a 19-year-old Goodes, who had yet to play a senior game for the Swans.
“I took my position up in the back pocket and this young buck came prancing up over my way, I didn’t have a clue who he was, no idea,” Swans coach Longmire said at Sydney’s Club Champion dinner on Friday.
“I just thought I’d stick my elbow in his stomach and he’d be too frightened to touch the ball for the next two hours.
“That was the closest I got near him because over the next two hours he ran like the wind and proceeded to give me an absolute football lesson.”
Goodes, however, was scathing about his own attitude when he first joined the Swans.
“I admit I came to the footy club, I was lazy, unfit, couldn’t really tackle,” Goodes said.
“The hardness side of the game was something that I had to learn.”
His first captain, Swans’ legend Paul Kelly, described Goodes as “fantastic” but was initially concerned that he was “such a nice bloke” with “absolutely no mongrel”.
“He came dead last by a long way,`Plugger’ (Tony Lockett) actually beat him,” Kelly recalled. Though Goodes countered by saying he was a “little bit crook that day.”
Longmire said Goodes’ toughness had been under-played.
He referred to the 2012 grand final when Goodes played through the second half with a major knee injury which subsequently prevented him for running for 12 weeks.
“After the third time of me asking him how his knee was through the 20-minute halftime break, he looked me dead in the eye and said ‘listen, I’m alright,'” Longmire said.
“In other words `will you shut up coach?’
“It was a courageous and very, very tough performance.”
Longmire recalled another memorable conversation with Goodes early in the 2015 season, when the veteran voluntarily dropped himself to the reserves.
“He’s one of the greatest players that’s ever played the game saying `no problem mate, I’ll go and play reserves’. Incredible,” Longmire said.
Goodes played in the Sydney side that broke the club’s 72-year premiership drought in 2005 and was part of the 2012 team that upset Hawthorn, who have gone on to win the next three grand finals.
“A great experience and a great victory because they are a fantastic team and we had to play out of our skins to win that game,” Goodes said of the 2012 triumph.