Saturday 20 July 2019
It’s a bit of a shock to go to the footy on a Saturday afternoon. Clearly it was too much for most Richmond members, as only forty odd thousand turned up on this sunny day. I will try to curtail my usual whinges on this subject, but the fact is that there is little for our supporters to do. Our famed passion and loud voices are drowned out, all the time. Before the game starts one of the annoying signs on the fences reads, in yellow and black, “Restore the Roar.” Exactly at this time, loud thumping music is obliterating any crowd noise that might be made. For all the great things they are doing in so many areas, in this respect our Club is run by fools.
But there is much about this day to like. For one thing, my niece, who is 23 and hadn’t kicked a footy in anger until a year or two ago, is playing for Melbourne Uni against Fitzroy at Victoria Park. The first bounce is at midday so I catch an early train, step off at Vic Park at 11.45 and watch the first half of her game with her parents. She goes all right and her team are winning at half time. None of us ever, ever dreamed that one day we’d be here watching her – or any women’s team for that matter – playing the game we love.
Thanks to the magic of the Mernda Line I’m at the ‘G well before the Tigers game starts. I get a good spot in M9 against the barrier where I can lean my notepad and record and soak up the loud music. It’s an odd feeling to go to Richmond games expecting to win. And where once that expectation came with a greater expectation – “if we expect to win, we probably won’t” – these Tigers actually do win when they’re meant to. And yet Port aren’t that bad, only a game or two behind us despite plenty of injuries. And apparently, we haven’t beaten them here for 21 years. That must take us back almost to the day when we thumped the first-year Port Adelaide and Duncan Kellaway kicked a goal late in the last.
Port are playing in a light-blue jumper which I don’t care for. But I don’t like their normal jumper much either. The Richmond banner goes up. It incorporates the name of our “Match Day Sponsor”, Otterbox. Remind me never to use that product, even if my life depends on it. How dare they taint the banner with their corporate shite. People give up hours of their precious time to put that banner together. Putting an ad on it just isn’t right, I don’t care how much money the club gets for it.
Graham and Baker are in, two handy inclusion, for Egg and Mac. I’m not sure why those two are out, I thought Mac played quite well last week against the Giants.
Our players look magnificent warming up in the sunshine at the Punt Road End. Queen is belting out over us. The pre-match build-up, the crowd getting louder and louder, is just distant memory now. A thumping count-down clock takes us up to the first bounce. This is imposed on us by Footy’s Ruling Class, people who never pay for a ticket or miss a Grand Final, people who possibly don’t even know people who pay to watch their team play. People who haven’t the faintest idea of how committed your everyday footy supporter is.
The Ruling Class pay marketers – 25 at last count in the RFC’s case – to come up with new ideas “to get the crowd involved.” Each idea is more inane and insulting than the last. The Countdown Clock is one such innovation, as if your average supporter had no idea that a match was about to start, the players taking up positions on the ground, the umpires checking that all is right in the centre square, that the hysterical, blood-curdling roar of forty thousand of the like-minded were not enough to tell them that a game was about to start…
I’m sorry, I really am trying not to whinge about this stuff. There’s a game to report on.
We kick to the Punt Road end and start well. Bolton handballs to Prestia who goals on the run from 55 out. Lynch snaps a behind while being tackled. Then Chol passes to him again, he marks and goals from 50. Then Rioli handballs to Dusty who goals and 14 minutes have gone and we lead 3.2 to two points and long may it continue.
Howard for Port marks too easily and goals from 35. Then Butters steals the ball from Grimes after Shedda passed to him when he shouldn’t have and Port have two goals and I don’t like it. Richmond attack again but stuff it up. With too many options nobody seems prepared just to bang the ball forward and see what happens. But Riewoldt ends up being pushed in the back without the footy and goals from the free kick. We lead 4.2 to 2.2 with 18 gone.
Port win a free on their forward line for being Port Adelaide but miss. A very elaborate Tiger attack follows and Prestia kicks a point. We are finessing in way that will make Tommy Hafey rise from the grave in frustration. Graham kicks us another point from a long way out, it’s good to see him have a crack at it, at least. Port rebound and Grimes takes a great mark in defence. Then a stroke of luck for Richmond. From defence Port kick out on the full but Westhoff, to make sure that the ball is actually out, fists it away to make sure and the ump gives a 50 against him. Ridiculous. It’s not at all clear that he actually broke any rule at all. Still it gifts Graham a goal and we lead by three with 26 gone.
Richmond attack again with no result. One of the louder men in M9 yells out, “Go hard or go home Chol! Which, in light of recent events, and events stretching back into the grimmest pages of history, is pretty gross. Saying it to him is not quite the same as saying it to Grimes or Cotchin.
We lead by three goals at quarter time and our fussiness in attack has been very frustrating. Everyone seems terrified of being the one to lose the footy so they’re all looking for the easy pass.
This continues early in the second when another attack founders when the ball is handpassed out of bounds in the pocket. But Stack makes up for our fumbling with some magical movement. He evades two tacklers before handballing to Riewoldt who goals from 15 out. We lead 6.4 to 2.4 with six minutes gone. Charlie Dixon pulls one back for Port, then Karl Amon adds another and our lead is down to two goals. Port seem to be defending very well, with all their tall players back and are dangerous on the rebound.
Baker is collected high and Port win a free kick. What do you expect? Only a point results. Chol wins a free for holding the ball and goals from 30 out. He seems to be a reliable set shot. He slotted a beauty from the pocket last week against the Giants.
Richmond attack quickly after the re-start, Lynch marks, Riewoldt marks, another goal from 30 out and we’re almost four goals up again.
But the electronic roar after each of our goals becomes more and more grating.
At half-time we lead 8.5 to 4.6. We’re still over-using the ball, but I’m glad we’re winning.
At half time I am struck by the beauty of people standing and talking to each other in the bright winter sunshine at the Punt Road End. The music, a bit less loud and intrusive than usual (but still completely unnecessary) includes Paul Kelly’s song about making gravy. Apparently, they play songs from one of the Richmond players’ top five selection. Usually these are bands and singers I’ve never heard of, but today it’s Townsend’s turn and he likes the old stuff. Kelly, John Denver, Hall and Oates, even a Farnham song.
I want us to start the third term with a bang but Port score first and the lead is under three goals. Then Dixon for Port wins a free, literally for falling over, but kicks only a point. Port are setting up well across the ground and there is no space for the Tigers to run into. Then Shedda gathers and kicks to Lynch who marks 20 out and goals and I feel better. Another stuffed-up attack shortly after shows we haven’t lost the knack though.
Port get another lucky one when Amon marks a kick that had barely gone 15 feet but is awarded the mark and goals. Stack saves us again when he steals the footy, gathers and handpasses to Ellis for a goal. The quarter is half over and we lead 10.5 to 6.7. Rioli, who’s been having a mixed game, passes perfectly to Lynch 30 metres out but he misses the shot. Then Dusty finds Castagna in the pocket with a 55-metre pass and George scores from the tight angle. George has had a very good season so far, his set shots have often been brilliant and his footwork at time has been Messi-like.
Ellis kicks into the 50 and the oft-maligned Soldo rises and marks in a pack, 25 out. Goes back and kicks it and his team-mates gather around him in celebration. Port get one back through Amon again, who won’t go away.
We lead by five goals at the last break and I begrudge Port that last goal. We’ve been more direct and have reaped the rewards. The last term starts well when Lynch snaps and goals while being tackled. Then Riewoldt holds a one-handed mark, kicks to the square where Shedda gathers and goals. We’re seven goals up and hungry for more.
Port get one back, Stack marks right in front but misses. He’s human after all. Chol marks, passes to Lynch who marks and misses from a tight angle. Then marks and misses again. At the 25-minute mark Stack handballs to Rioli who goals and we’re seven goals up again. Riewoldt marks a pass from Baker but misses. Port get the last goal of the game and we win by 38 points.
Final Score: Richmond 15.11.101 Port Adelaide 9.9.63
It really is a great thing to be winning the games we’re expected to win. It’s what good teams do. And I think there’s plenty of room for improvement with this team. They look like a good team who are still learning how to work together, which they are. I doubt if we’ve had the same team on the park two weeks in a row this season. And the quality of the players who want to fight their way back in is very impressive – Caddy, Nankervis, Mac, Egg, Ross, Townsend and his daggy songs… I’m not expecting Rance to perform miracles, though.
I thought our best players were defenders – Grimes, Astbury, Broad and Houli all did well. Soldo and Chol were solid in the ruck and around the ground. Dusty was good – well, very good, actually. I do hold him to high standards though. But his 55m pass to Castagna in the third was a thing of beauty. Bolton and Stack were very good too. Stack has a knack of doing the special thing when we need it most.
Next week against the Pies we need fewer stats and more goals. That’s not too much to ask is it?
Benny Votes by Lapsed Tiger
5 Tom Lynch
4 Dylan Grimes
3 Dustin Martin
2 David Astbury
1 Dion Prestia
Vlastuin, Lynch 21
Stack, Prestia 18
Cotchin, Bolton 7
Baker, Broad 4
Astbury, Ross, Naish 2
Rioli, Balta 1
Blair Hartley Appreciation Award:for players who have joined Richmond from another club
(Eligible 2019: Caddy, Grigg, Houli, Lynch, Nankervis, Prestia, Townsend and Weller)
Lynch, Prestia 18
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)
Ross, Naish 2
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