I’m glad to be moving house on this day because it looks like Richmond are travelling to be slaughtered. Our best four players are out along with Houli and Short, who might be five and six, and are certainly hard to replace in defence. We haven’t won in Adelaide for two years – since we beat Port in that Premiership year – and our interstate record last year was terrible.
And we’re coming off a heavy defeat against the Giants.
Early on Friday, after picking up a hired lawn-mower and getting a long hanging rail from Bunnings, I drop into the Preston Market. The woman at the deli who is in the Collingwood Cheer Squad tells me that the Magpies are “the same as you – we’ve won one, lost two.” The same as us? Collingwood? The team that destroyed us in round 2? This I can’t believe, but it gives me heart.
And hope springs. On Saturday morning I’m thinking the move won’t be that bad. On Friday night we’d already shifted the piano, the couch and a heap of boxes. There was nothing really heavy left. One thing I had to do was some washing as we wouldn’t have a clothes line at the new house. And as I pegged the sheets I thought, Richmond have lost their best players and we have no depth. How do teams get depth? They lose their best players and their replacements turn out to be pretty handy.
Stage one of this plan is in place already.
The move goes on and on. Early in the day I put an SOS out to my brother who responds promptly and lugs fridges, washing machines, bed bases, book shelves and a thousand boxes with a bad back and dodgy knees. And then mows our lawns and takes our mower back to the hire shop before it shuts.
By mid-afternoon we have all our furniture in the house and “just some boxes” left at the old place. I put up a hanging rail in our cupboard-less bedroom and turn the room from a building site into a bed-room in a couple of hours. How? I just put my head down and did it.
At about five-ish I go back to the old house in the hired truck for some more things. I find the footy on the radio and Richmond have just scored a goal and seem to be playing well. But on the scoreboard, we’re still a couple of goals down and I’m discouraged. We’ve had our chances but have kicked badly. Half time comes and we’re still in it though. I shift some boxes and find some essential items and get that dry washing off the line. Back in the truck the third term has started and we’re making a go of it. All of our new players are doing well. Ross, whom I’ve never heard of, is tearing it up as if he’s been playing for years. It’s his first game. Stack, Bolton, Boulta, are all doing well. Lynch has his kicking boots on and Grimes is unpassable in defence.
Back at the new house, truck un-loaded, Richmond are in front again. Lynch kicks a goal, is pushed as he kicks it and scores again from the free. The sort of luck you need sometimes. Possibly a bit of a hard call from the umps but the jeers and boos of the Port supporters make it worthwhile.
In the last quarter I figure out how to listen to footy on the radio on my phone. My daughter is sitting on a stool at our beautiful new recycled messmate benchtop, catching up on her Australian History. Two curries are bubbling on the stove. I’m rolling out yoghurt nan with a glass of beer foaming silently at my elbow. And whenever Port grab the lead, the Tigers rally and grab it back. Grimes takes seven marks in the last quarter. The young players whom I’ve barely heard of are full of running. Shedda, in his first game as captain, is standing up like he was born for the job. And Lynch keeps kicking goals.
Port get in front, we get in front again, then Port, then us again. Port attack and “guess who marks it?” The commentators don’t mean a Port forward and the crowd silence underlines this. The commentators mean Grimes, because he’s stopping everything.
Richmond attack again and Lynch marks and goals with 40 seconds left and the lead is out to seven points and I’m jumping up and down on our polished concrete floor. And the seconds tick away and the siren goes and we dance around the beautiful, new, box-cluttered kitchen.
Grimes has been magnificent. I’m not surprised. In the 2017 finals he beat some Geelong forward I’ve forgotten the name of, then Toby Greene and then Eddie Betts. Apparently after his best mark in the last quarter he then kicked the ball to a Port player. But that’s forgivable when you play the game of your life.
Ross has had 25 disposals in his first game and has been 92% efficient, they say, which sounds impressive. Shedda has played a tough and skilful captain’s game. Of course he has. Lynch is wearing the big recruit label very lightly. Caddy is back and kicks goals when we need them, just like in 2017.
And suddenly we have depth and footy’s not such a bad game after all.