Buddy Franklin’s best mate was unaware of the mental demons facing the Swans star as he battled mental health issues and a mild form of epilepsy.
Jordan Lewis is going to be part of the wedding party when Franklin marries fiancée Jesinta Campbell.
But Lewis admitted to Fox’s AFL 360 that he had no inkling about what Franklin was going through.
“This is something that’s taken me by surprise,” Lewis said.
“This has happened pretty quickly in my eyes.”
“I think it’s tough…he’s going to have lots of messages from people,” Lewis said. “In this situation you need just a little bit of time to breathe and relax.
“I just sent him a text to say whenever you’re ready give me a call. “Hopefully he’s in a good place where he’s got people who can help him and he can come out the other side.”
Sydney Swans delivered the bombshell announcement yesterday moments before training for Saturday’s qualifying final against the Dockers in Perth — a game Ross Lyon’s side became a clear favourite to win after the withdrawal.
Sydney coach John Longmire gave no details of Franklin’s mental condition except it was ongoing and serious but treatable.
The club later sent out another statement, confirming that Franklin had also suffered a seizure last Friday while at a Bondi cafe and that he had a mild form of epilepsy.
He was subsequently hospitalised but the Swans said the two conditions weren’t related.
“This incident is not clinically linked to the mental health condition he is currently dealing with, and both Lance and the club have considered it a private medical matter,” the Swans said.
It is the second time this year Franklin has been hospitalised, the first coming in January when paramedics took the star forward to hospital from his Bondi apartment.
The club later confirmed he also had mild epilepsy after reports of a seizure at one of his Sydney haunts on Friday — his third publicly recorded fit.
It said Franklin was taken to hospital and discharged that afternoon after seeing a specialist and that the epilepsy was unrelated to his mental health issues.
Longmire said he believed the pressure of AFL football might have contributed to Franklin’s condition but he was confident the dual premiership star would play again.
“He’s certainly got the best possible care to be able to address the condition he’s got and we’re very confident he will be able to get better very soon,” Longmire said. “We obviously can’t put a timeframe on it.”
Even those closest to Franklin were shocked, with close friend Jordan Lewis saying he made plans to meet Franklin in Perth on Friday.
Dockers players were also stunned with the Swans coming west without their main scoring threat, as well as midfield general Kieren Jack, Luke Parker and Nick Smith.
“I don’t know what it is, but for his sake I hope he gets over it,” Docker Garrick Ibbotson said.
Swans co-skipper Jarrad McVeigh admitted the news also shocked the team, though reports suggest senior players knew of their $9 million-man’s recent seizure.
“It is a very personal thing and a private matter with doctors,” McVeigh said. “It is not something you know about until he puts his hand up. “Obviously it is a shock but Bud is in a place where he can get the best support at the moment.”
Jeff Kennett, the chairman of beyondblue and at Hawthorn when Franklin was a Hawk, said his admission showed how far football and society had come since mental health issues were hidden.
He pleaded with the media to give Franklin the space he requested.
This article first appeared on ‘The West Australian’ on 8 September 2015.