I had quite a good feeling about this game which was justified given our good form and their bad run. Then again, they had just replaced their coach, it was at Docklands and it was North who for years and years – until Boomer retired and we suddenly became Premiers in 2017 – were impossible for us to beat. Especially when it mattered.
This will divert me from Friday’s game, but so be it. We were never big fans of whichever Scott it was who coached them. Nor the other one, who took over at Geelong. This goes back to round 23, 2015, when we were playing North at Docklands and North, for strategic reasons, decided to rest half their team. Now the last time I had tried to take the kids to see us play North at Docklands we’d been locked out – that is, they said the ground was full and there were no more general admission tickets to be had. This was after standing in a queue or about an hour. Later, we found that out that there were, in fact, several thousand empty seats, but none for the likes of us.
So this time, for round 23 2015, with crucial spots in the 8 at stake, we booked ahead a paid a bomb for very good seats. Then Scott rested half his team, made it plain that he was quite happy to lose and the ground was only half-full as a result. In our top-dollar seats we sat alone, nobody anywhere near us. We got to see Majak Daw explode through the middle of the ground and kick a goal. But after half-time the Tigers got on top of the Roos Reserves team and won by a few goals.
This was exactly what North wanted. It meant they played us in the Elimination Final the next week and we were their long-term bunnies. They beat us in what was the saddest of our Elimination Finals and afterwards, having let go of all hope of Richmond ever winning a flag or even making the finals again I thought “I will die happy, not if we beat North but if just one of our players, just once, manages to lay a tackle on Boomer Harvery.” Then the bastard retired before my wish could come true.
But then we won a flag which made most of my self-pitying reflections irrelevant.
Anyway, I didn’t go to this game, mainly because it was an away game and I’d have to pay to get in and also because it was at Docklands which I despise. And lastly because I went to the vigil in Royal Park for Courtney Herron who’d been murdered there a few days previously. A thousand or so of us stood in the rain and the cold and the silence, with just our own thoughts in our heads. It was moving and powerful and made the footy seem like the happy distraction that it is.
I rode home in the rain and cold and was soon in dry clothes in a warm house with a hot meal on my lap. And Richmond started the game well. Cotchin’s first kick in seven weeks was a beauty – long and straight and marked by George about 55 out. No goal resulted but it was a promising start. A bit later Lynch got a lucky free – really, umpires are paying for ‘’a push” in marking contests whenever anyone falls over – and he went back and goaled. He was now 19.8 from set shots and I’m so glad we picked him up.
Quarter time score: North 4.1.25 to Richmond 3.2.20
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North were playing really well but we were matching them. Martin had three goals to half time and it looked like being one of those highly entertaining games when a team really has a crack at beating Richmond only to be over-run in the second half. It sort of worked out that way except in reverse. By half-time Richmond’s accuracy had kept the game even. In the third term North run all over us, despite being a player down.
Half-time score: North 6.7.43 to Richmond 6.3.39
Someone for North – probably Brown but it could have been someone else – takes a mark in the forward line and scores from not a long way out. After the mark Grimes is gesturing to someone – anyone I suppose – how come North had so many players free? How come indeed? Our defenders, normally so tight and reliable, seem to be not where they are needed.
North are up by 33 points right at the end of the third quarter when Caddy marks a wonderful pass from Martin. The siren goes and Caddy kicks out on the full. There is no hope, bar Richmond making their best comeback in about 95 years.
Three-quarter time score: North 12.7.79 to Richmond 7.4.46
I can’t watch much of the last term. There is no need to. North are everywhere and are up by 50 points at one stage. I see Ben Brown take a mark in the 50 with nobody near him. He is having a night out. We get a late goal or two and the final margin probably flatters us.
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Full time score: North 15.9.99 to Richmond 9.8.62
For all our injuries we are having a great season. Yet every game we’ve lost since we won the flag has been a bit of a thumping. As if a team just has to learn how to pick the Richmond lock and then they can steal the lot. And it was also sad to see our Captain return for a loss like this.
Less than ideal preparation for taking on the Cats. Does the other Scott still coach them? I don’t like him either, for no particular reason. And I loathe Geelong, as most normal people do. All those games in the 80s and 90s when they used us for training drills…
From what I saw of this match I thought Houli was good. I might be a bit biased. And Dusty was good, un-stoppable in the first half but a mere mortal in the second. Prestia and Cotch were also good. [I’ll throw in Stack as well, with Baker and Castagna also standing up – Chris]. North were clearly a handy team who only needed a new coach to reveal themselves. If they become, for us, one of those never-beat-them-when-it-really-matters teams, again, I’ll be very sad.
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Houli 5, Martin 4, Prestia 3, Cotchin 2, Stack 1
Lynch, Stack 12
Cotchin, Nankervis 5
Broad, Lambert 3
Rioli, Castagna, Balta 1
Blair Hartley Appreciation Award:for players who have joined Richmond from another club
(Eligible 2018: Caddy, Grigg, Houli, Lynch, Nankervis, Prestia, Townsend and Weller)
Anthony Banik Best First Year Player:for anyone who was yet to debut before round 1
(Eligible 2019: Balta, Coleman-Jones, Collier-Dawkins, Miller, Naish, Ross, Turner, Stack)
Joel Bowden’s Golden Left Boot:for left footers
(Eligible 2019: Chol, Grigg, Nankervis and Houli)
Greg Tivendale Rookie List Medal:
upgraded from the rookie list during the current season
Maurice Rioli Grip of Death Trophy:
For the Tiges top tackler in 2019
Vlastuin, McIntosh 34
Baker, Castagna 33