Sunday 11 July 2021, 4.10pm
It’s the last time slot I’d choose for a Richmond game and yet it actually works out all right for me. I get some things done before setting off and we’re home in time for a not-too-late dinner. And our seats are magnificent. On the bottom deck where we almost never go, just around from the Punt Road End and under cover so there’s no worrying about the rain. Which, like Richmond’s next win, doesn’t come.
Our start is very good though. Bolton snaps a beauty from the pocket just in front of us. There’s lots of pressure and a fair amount of skill and we kick four goals straight to 1.1 for the quarter. Rioli and Stack are very good and warmly welcomed back into the side.
Our back-line is almost unrecognisable, with no Houli, Vlaustin, Broad or Balta. And Baker is playing on the forward line so he’s not there either. But this make-shift defence does all right, the mids get enough of the footy and the forwards kick straight. Chol does well-enough in the ruck because Toby still wasn’t right, apparently.
Baker is at home in attack and makes a great spoil against a much taller opponent. Richmond win the loose footy and kick a goal and Baker is loudly applauded as he runs off to the bench.Embed from Getty Images
Quarter-time score: Richmond 4.0 to Collingwood 1.1.
Again we start well but Collingwood become very quick and clean out of the middle in a way that Richmond haven’t done for weeks. We can’t seem to get an attack going and the Pies kick a few goals in a row, including two in about a minute, which is very worrying. But some things go right. Baker marks just inside the 50, gets up, brushes himself off and goes back and kicks it. Of course he does. And right at the end Riewoldt takes a big grab, the siren goes and he kicks his 700th goal and everyone – well, nearly everyone – stands and cheers him. We still have a 17-point lead and it’s not so bad being a Richmond supporter.Embed from Getty Images
Half-time score: Richmond 7.2.44 to Collingwood 4.3.27
There is the usual obnoxious crap at half-time. Loud thumping music, the sickly bullying game of Are You Paying Attention? I have noticed that in addition to the electronic roar which follows our goals and which is embarrassing enough, there is a loud burst of electronic cheering after Collingwood’s goals. My daughter tells me that this seems to be standard at the MCG now for the away team. God help us.
In the third term Collingwood miss quite a few chances but our system appears to be broken. The pattern of the last few weeks seems to have re-emerged. There are good little episodes of play but never enough to trouble our opponents. Aarts makes a very clever gather on the half-back flank but then turns the ball over. Had he gotten it away we might have had a clear run down the other end.
Stack is playing well, very busy and spoiling and scrapping all over the place. Somehow – mainly due to Collingwood’s poor kicking for goal – we increase our lead by three points.
Three-quarter time score: Richmond 10.3.63 to Collingwood 6.7.43Embed from Getty Images
We are just around from the Richmond Cheer Squad who, if I’m lip-reading correctly, are doing their Tiger Army chant to get our boys over the line in this last quarter. I can’t hear a word however. The corporate geniuses who run the Richmond Football Club have chosen, as a matter of policy, to drown them out with marketing department drivel. Not just on this day but on all our days going back 20 years or more. It’s one of the saddest things I’ve seen where nobody actually died.
I will say it to my grave, what sort of a club silences its own supporters?
Collingwood are kicking to the Punt Road End in the last and so we have a perfect view for the hell which unfolds. Pendlebury, who seems to be playing very well, kicks perfectly to Elliot who marks right in front. The kick was like the best of Dusty’s passes, perfectly placed and giving Garthwaite (I think) no chance. In no time the lead is less than a goal. Then De Goey marks and goals and Collingwood are in front and a moment later he marks again and passes to someone else who marks – of course – and goals and they are nine points up all of a sudden.
What has happened? We can’t seem to get our hands on the footy. Collingwood are tearing out of the middle as if we’re not there. We’re nine points down and our season is gone.
Pendlebury gets it out of the middle, again, to Mihocek who marks on the 50. He kicks it straight to Grundy who marks and goals from 15 out. Our make-shift defence has been pulled to bits.
The slow, hypnotic chant of “Coll-ing-woood….Coll-ing-woood” makes its way around the ground. They haven’t won a flag in 11 years and they can’t have more than 10 thousand supporters here but their chanting, like their footy, is embarrassing us.
We’re 15 points down but it feels like 50. Finally, we attack and Dusty gets it to Lynch, who, it seems, has not been terribly involved for some time, and the big feller gets it home and it’s only nine points now and who knows? Can this team find some heart and two more goals? There are only 22 minutes gone.
Collingwood attack again and seem certain to finish us off but Grimes flies in, makes a huge tackle and wins a holding-the-ball free kick. It’s a huge play, the sort of thing that could lift a side, but doesn’t. He kicks it into the middle where Cotch is out-marked.Embed from Getty Images
There is some good, very tough footy and maybe we could still do this? But with 27 gone Collingwood seal it.
Long before this our supporters have been leaving and now they stand and walk out in droves. I am so appalled that I shout at them, you weak bastards, they’ve won you three flags and you walk our now? At least I think I was shouting. To their credit, they keep their heads down and refuse to meet my gaze.
The Collingwood chant has a terrible beauty about it, as Yeats might have observed. When the siren goes, mercifully, we stand and soak in the pain. The Pies are over the moon. When you’re 16th on the ladder and your club is falling apart what could be better than beating the reigning Premier and ending their finals hopes? Our players look shattered. What has become of us in these four terrible weeks?
Final score: Richmond 11.5.71 to Collingwood 13.9.87
Grimes might have been our best player. In an undermanned back-line he tried even harder than usual. Stack was good too and Baker. Others did their bit, but not enough of them and not often enough.