To round out the season at the MCG, a loss to St Kilda in the manner that we did was a sour finish to the year to say the least. Both teams seemed less than inclined to really put up much effort, and it was clear for all to see this pattern inside the first 5 minutes.
A generally low level of intensity by the players was countered by the frequent reminders by the Richmond hierarchy and marketing team that this was “thank you fans day”. This at least tempered the quickly evaporating atmosphere with some semblance of good cheer.
But what we saw from ‘thank the fans day’ was equivalent to what was played out on the field – a shallow effort to acknowledge the contribution of the 72-plus thousand members and 35,000 that attended.
On our last game at the MCG for seven months, no players approached the boundary fence to farewell the members and faithful. No one went near the most die-hard of all at the Punt Road end. No acknowledgement at all by the players as they wandered away like Brown’s cows.
Granted they were bested and beaten, but that Saturday was more than a loss on the scoreboard, and a loss of four points. It was a loss of connection between home fans and players for another season. A loss of the community of football for seven months.
How was this connection overlooked by the footy department, the marketing and promotions team, and all involved with ‘fan engagement’? These small moments are emotional sinews that wrap and bind people to club, and some fine strands of those sinews were broken on Saturday.
This was the most sour part of the day, and an unfortunate way to round out an ordinary home effort of 6 wins and 5 losses for 2016.
And so to the votes.
In times past I preferred to list the unlucky, and then count up to the best with 5 votes.
This week it will be done in the reverse order. Because really there is not much but charity after the early votes get apportioned.
There was no brighter burning Tiger on Saturday than the most recent NAB rising Star nominee Daniel RIOLI. He worked hard and tirelessly as though it was an early season game with much on the line. Flashes of brilliance from the young man peppered our dark final day at the G for 2016.
Playing well and doing his best to will a very unwilling team to some form of competitiveness highlighted once again why, as captain, COTCHIN should not be questioned on leadership again. Not his best game this year, and not even his best this month, but a beacon when cast against the general malaise of Saturday.
Its never easy down back when the others further up field are not on song, but the effort of GRIMES was exemplary. Though he and his defensive brothers were helped by the loss to the Saints when McCartin went off, Dylan was well positioned and close checking throughout. An early and successful stretch of those famous hamstrings in the opening minutes (about where the practice wickets used to be) showed he was switched on.
This is where a charitable heart steps in and the cold hard reality that we just didn’t have very many shining lights must exit. So lets offer up another defender.
It was a Rance-esque display of Rance-type defending by Alex RANCE. Solid and dependable as always, and what we now come to expect.
And while were on it, was it too little too late to try Alex as a forward with about 10 mins to go? I think so.
Although Dusty has the Benny sewn up, its fair to say Alex will be challenging him for the Jack Dyer. Best Tiger all year for mine.
The papers and radio talked up DUSTY, and hell he may even get a Brownlow vote out of this game, but its a ‘scrape into the 1 vote slot’ sort of game for mine.
ALSO, KINDA, MAYBE…
I thought Houli played his best game since returning from injury, but those other games were not much to write home about.
Grigg was patchy, but threw himself in most when we looked well out of the contest.
Lloyd made sporadic efforts but was found wanting more than he found the goals.
Edwards too flashed in, but he is well below his 2015 level.
Hopefully we can have a mighty crack at the Swans next week, and then regroup, draft, reset and re-load for 2017.
12: Deledio, Lloyd
9: Castagna, Rioli
5: Lambert, Grigg, Drummond, Markov
3: Townsend, C. Ellis, Vlaustin, Astbury, Marcon
2: B. Ellis
Blair Hartley Appreciation Award
Anthony Banik Best First Year Player
9: Castagna, Rioli
5: Drummond, Markov
Joel Bowden's Golden Left Boot
Greg Tivendale Rookie List Medal
This week Richmond flies to Sydney to take on the Swans. If anyone will be there and would like to cast the votes, please get in touch.