The entire embarrassing story of what happened to Adam Goodes.

Racism is something Adam Goodes has grown up with.

“It happened in junior ranks, it happened in high school, it happened when you went to the shop to get some milk,” he said in a 2012 interview replayed in The Final Quarter, a documentary on Goodes’ final years in AFL.

But it was one word yelled at him from the sideline of the 2013 Indigenous round, and Goodes’ impassioned reaction that saw the AFL superstar face unrelenting racism for the next three seasons of his career, forcing him into early retirement.

Here’s the trailer for The Final Quarter, which is available to watch on Stan. Post continues below.

Video by Stan

“I am pretty gutted to be honest. The win sort of means nothing… to come to the boundary line and hear a 13-year-old girl call me an ape. It was shattering. Racism had a face last night and it was a 13-year-old girl.

“But it’s not her fault. She’s still so innocent, I don’t put any blame on her, unfortunately it’s what she hears. It’s the environment she’s grown up in,” Goodes told a post-match interview the next day.

“I felt like I was in high school again, being bullied. I didn’t stand up for myself in high school, but I decided to stand up last night and I will continue to stand up,” he said.

The documentary, which goes for 72 minutes, is available on TenPlay and follows a timeline narrative format walking Australia through the embarrassing three years that led to Goodes leaving the game.

While a lot of Australia condemned the behaviour at the time, there were many high profile media personalities that didn’t, and Goodes’ actions and reactions became fodder for every talk show host, every newspaper and every opinion column in the country.

Adam Goodes
Goodes' comments after the 2013 indigenous round, when a 13-year-old called him an ape started everything. Image: Ten.

A week after the incident, Eddie Maguire told Triple M Breakfast, "Get Adam Goodes down for it then?" while referring to a King Kong promo.

Maguire called it a "slip of a tongue" but the gaff sparked even more debate, with Maguire effectively repeating the same insult as the 13-year-old girl four days earlier.

The following year, Goodes was awarded Australian of the Year.

"I myself am a very proud Indigenous man. Thank you Australia for this year, it's a huge honour," he told the crowd as he accepted the accolade from then Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

014 Australian Of The Year Announced In Canberra
Goodes won Australian of the Year in 2014. Image: Stefan Postles/Getty.

But his win sparked yet another conversation - with Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt, Sam Newman and Alan Jones leading the charge in saying he was a bad choice for the accolade given he "victimised a powerless 13-year-old girl the year prior".

In the meantime, Goodes was using his title to fight for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal people in Australia.

"Right now there is not a single word that mentions anyone was here in 1788. So we need to acknowledge that simple fact," he said in speeches and talks around the country.

He became the face of "Recognise," a campaign which fought to change the constitution. He appeared in ads, gave talks and fought hard on behalf of Australia's Indigenous population.

Adam Goodes recognise
Goodes used his new title to promote "Recognise," a campaign pushing for change to the constitution. Image: Sydney Swans.

But the shock jocks weren't having it. They started writing about the "lecture that let us all down," with Andrew Bolt claiming it was Goodes' campaign that was in fact racist, because it was he who was "dividing Australia".

Back on the AFL field in 2014, the Indigenous round saw Goodes address 74,000 people about his fight for recognition in the constitution. The Prime Minister even pledged half a million dollars towards his cause.

But despite the huge steps forward by Goodes, Australia took some enormous steps backwards.

It was 2014 when the booing started.

It was a persistent and constant ringing in Goodes' ears for the entire season, and it was peppered with abusive slurs and offensive hand movements.


Watching the documentary you get a sense of what it would have felt like to look up into the stands and hear a low, grumbling boo echoing around you.

"It's not something I'm not used to ...sometimes it's a mark of respect that the opposition fans don't want you to play well," was Goodes' reply in press conferences. He refused to be brought down by it.

His name was constantly in the headlines, he was called "too sensitive" and shock jocks started accusing him of "playing the victim". They even started calling for his resignation.

Andrew Bolt
The headlines kept coming. Image: Ten.

In 2015, it happened again and Goodes' entire AFL season was played to a sea of boos from the stands.

At the Indigenous round, the Swans wore their Indigenous jerseys. There were didgeridoos, there was war paint and it was a celebration of Indigenous culture (as it had been every year.)

Goodes then performed a traditional Aboriginal war cry after scoring a goal, complete with an imitation spear throw. It was a tribute to the under 16 Boomerang kids who had been performing the very same dance since 2006.

But the reaction was brutal. Watching it back in the documentary it's almost hard to believe. Especially if you consider the fact every New Zealand international rugby game features the Haka, which is a very similar traditional war dance.

"These war dances are from another era. They are significant because it's between two tribes, and they do it before they go out and want to kill each other," said former AFL player Dermott Brereton.


"Had we known beforehand we might have been able to understand the situation," he told the Today Show in a cross.

"It comes down to communication. It was aggressive and violent," said Eddie Maguire.

In a post match interview, Goodes was surprised by the backlash, "If we're telling people out there that they can't represent their culture or where they come from, in a round that's specifically about acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, what are we doing?"

Goodes' celebration of pride turned into yet another divisive topic for the country's media to tear apart.

AFL 1st Qualifying Final - Fremantle v Sydney
Goodes was booed during every single game he played. It was unrelenting. Image: Getty.

Those that saw it for what it was made sure they spoke of its stirring and emotional effect, but they were quickly drowned out by calls of it being "overly excessive" and "unnecessary".

"It feels like people want to have the Indigenous round in their own comfortable neat little box, that doesn't threaten them or make them think or challenge them," said Caroline Wilson, chief football writer at The Age, while speaking on Footy Classified.

"People aren't booing you because you're Aboriginal, they're booing you because you're a jerk. It is on you as an Australian of the Year to unite and placate people, not to divide and be a provocateur," said former AFL player Sam Newman on The Footy Show.

Channel Ten's Waleed Aly put it bluntly when he said, "Australia boos when they feel discomfort".


"Australia is a tolerant society until their minorities show they don't know their place," he said.

Goodes' teammates started fighting back, they emulated Goodes' war dance in other matches, and stood up for their star player in interviews. Even the opposing team's officials had to start stepping in.

goodes war dance
Goodes performing his aboriginal war dance. Image: Ten.

"We want our fans to support our team, but there are some boundaries that need to be observed. We cannot and will not condone racist behaviour," West Coast Eagles CEO Trevor Nisbett told 7News after yet another game tarnished by booing.

Andrew Pridham, the Swans Chairman told a press conference, "You can't be a 'little bit racist'. Paying $30 to come to a game of football doesn't give someone the right to humiliate, taunt bully, racially vilify anybody. We won't accept it."

Gillon McLachlan the AFL CEO issued an unprecedented warning to fans to stop.

"I think we're at the stage people don't even know why they're doing it. It's obviously hurting Adam, but it's hurting a lot of people in our industry... it's having an impact. I ask people to refrain. It's ugly," he said.

Eventually Goodes took a break from sport and the media, as his health started to take a toll.

A final blow from Newman on the Footy Show really put the boot in, "Adam, you take yourself far too seriously, unfortunately you're not well enough equipped to deal with the saga you've caused. You've gone into hiding."


Australia rallied, with celebrities sending messages of "stand with Adam" and opposing teams even donned Adam's number 37 as they took to the field.

AFL teams across the countries wore their Aboriginal jerseys, wristbands, and mouth-guards to mark their respect for the great player.

There was a surge of support for Goodes when he took a leave of absence from the game. Image: Ten.

But when Goodes returned to the game after his time off, the booing returned as well.

After being booed until the final siren of the semifinal between the Swans and North Melbourne in late 2015, Goodes announced his retirement from the game.

He didn't even participate in the retiring players traditional parade following the Grand Final, in fear of being booed again.

It wasn't until six months later that the AFL's CEO apologised for not acting sooner to support and protect him from the obvious racism being levelled at him.

Adam Goodes is a proud Adnyamathanha man. He's an Australian of the Year, and he's one of the best AFL footballers the country has seen.

And yet it was the place that he called home that let him down.

This documentary is going to be played in every school and every sports club in the country, and so it should.

The Final Quarter is available to watch on Stan now.

This post was originally published on July 19, 2019, and updated on February 9, 2020.