Sunday 11 August, 3.20pm, MCG
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I leave the house in a rush but go back for my gloves as it’s so cold. But I still manage to forget my scarf, of all things, and I don’t realise until I’m well up the road. I’m aiming for a train that I’ll have to run for and I don’t go back for the scarf. I hope this doesn’t bring us bad luck.
I have to give up on the train and I catch a timely tram instead. If you think we’re spoiled for choice with public transport in Preston you are right. I get into the ‘G a few minutes before the start. Tigerland is being played and sung by some as I make my way to M9. The players are warming up in the teeming rain and after the Friday night snow in Canberra I reflect on the sadness of Melbourne, that no matter how cold it gets, it’s never going to snow. And Rob Snarsky’s song comes into my head, “It starts with snow and it ends with rain…” which for this round of footy will be the case.
Riewoldt is Captain. Cotch is sitting this one out and Dusty’s out too, with “general soreness.” It’s Shedda’s 250th and he’s the 250th player to reach that milestone. Later I will see on the telly that fewer that 2% of AFL players get to that many games. So well done Shedda, we love you and we’re very proud.
Riewoldt wins the toss and chooses the City End so that we’ll kick to the Punt Road End in the last. At the huddle Lynch looks happy and relaxed. But I can only tell this by looking at the TV screen. In real life all the players with blond hair look the same and I struggle to pick Lynch, Riewoldt or Broad apart. Ellis is a bit easier as his shape is distinctive.
Richmond dominate early and after 13 minutes Riewoldt marks a perfect pass from Stack and goals from outside 50. A few minutes later Lynch marks close in, plays on and goals despite being tackled and falling over. Perfect passes from Houli to Caddy to Lynch follow but he misses from 30 meters. Carlton win a soft in-the-back free but miss from 25 out and maybe this will be our afternoon?
Bolton handpasses to Graham who kicks the wet ball from outside the 50 and goals. There is sunshine now and light rain and quarter ends and we’re three goals up and playing quite well. Edwards has had a heap of marks and has been very busy.
Quarter time score: Richmond 3.2 to Carlton 0.2
It’s always good when Richmond are attacking the Punt Road End. When we’re winning that is. Graham makes a great smother to force a boundary throw-in on the forward flank. Light rain falls, Riewoldt gathers and snaps a behind. Carlton attack but a Vlaustin mark stops them in their tracks. Tigger is playing very well.
The ball is in the pocket in the teeming rain and we win a free for out-on-the-full. The ball lands on the deck, Graham gathers, kicks as he’s tackled and goals. He’s playing like he really wants to play finals again. Watching footy in the rain brings out a lot of nostalgia and clearly this is shared by the players too who organise a bit of a brawl after Graham’s goal, but I’m too busy scribbling to see how it started.
It does remind me of the best radio call of all time – the ’79 GF which we taped and played and replayed on a loop. And Smokey Dawson said to Doug Bigelow at one point, “You watch the fights Doug, I’ll watch the footy!”
Carlton are attacking more than I want them too but can kick only points, even when Richmond gift them a chance after going backwards like in the worst days of Wallace and Frawley. What could go wrong if we keep kicking backwards?
Richmond attack again and Bolton makes a very brave attempt to mark. He still manages to handpass to Graham who steadies and snaps his third. In the teeming rain he can do no wrong.
Chol on the other hand can do little right and drops an easy mark. Well, it would have been easy on a dry day. But Chol does get a handball to Graham – why give it to anyone else? – who goals again and we’ve kicked six and Carlton have only four points. I love the idea of keeping Carlton goal-less for a whole game. Carlton attack twice for two more points. Then Tigger, who’s been having such a good game, stuffs up the kick-out and gifts the Blues a goal. I’m a bit gutted that they didn’t have a goal-less half of footy.
Half-time score Richmond 6.4.40 to Carlton 1.6.12
At half-time I go to the loo and line up for a latte and miss out on the horror of “Are you paying attention?” I can still hear the theme music for it though. The coffee is very welcome.
At the start of the third term Lambert handpasses to Shedda who goals from 55 out. His mates gather around to celebrate. Lynch takes a great mark on the 50 and his kick is only a little short. Murphy for Carlton kicks a very clever banana kick in front of us which is pretty clearly a goal, but there’s never a good reason to spare us the spine-tingling tension and commercial opportunity of a score review, so there is one and it is a goal. Damn, the bastards have got two and we’re only 29 points up.
Carlton are on top for the next ten or fifteen minutes and I don’t like it. Carlton attack again and get another goal and it’s 7.5 to 3.6 and the Tigers look a bit flat. After 24 minutes Lynch marks about 30 out, looks like he wants to give it away then goes back and kicks it. It’s been our first proper attack in a good while.
Casboult pulls one back for Carlton after a very good mark, right in front and it’s under four goals again. This is the sort of margin that could give a team hope and I wish we led by more. Richmond win a free 45 out and Lynch kicks a point. The free was for holding the ball, I think, and was a bit lucky as a Carlton player seemed to be chicken-winged. I think we’re a bit lucky to be four goals up as Carlton have had a very good quarter and our attacks were not convincing.
Just before the siren Ellis makes a huge attack on the footy on the half-back flank and a big tackle to follow up. He too is playing like someone who doesn’t want to miss a spot in the finals team.
While I write this the idiots are cheering for “Race the Jeep” at three quarter time. Honestly.
Three-quarter time score: Richmond 8.6 to Carlton 4.6
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We’re kicking to the Punt Road End in the last and I hope we bury the Blues. Kreuzer wins a free and then a 50 but misses his shot from 30. Richmond are under siege at the City End and Carlton really believe they can win this. Carlton win another free for out-on-the-full but the mug kicks out on the full himself. Maybe it won’t be Carlton’s afternoon.
Finally, six minutes into the quarter Richmond attack and Ross wins a free for deliberate out-of-bounds. Riewoldt takes a huge mark right in front and kicks a goal and I feel better.
Then Bolton, still not having a great game, gives away a soft free for high contact on the wing, then a fifty for a shove and then another fifty for holding his opponent up. Carlton kick the goal and it’s 9.7 to 5.8 and it’s raining again.
It’s heartening to see a big flock of seagulls in the corner of the centre square. The control freaks who run our game must be beside themselves. Those overhead wires worked for a while and now they don’t.
Carlton attack again and again and then Astbury marks in defence, only it’s not paid because Grimes touched it. But as Astbury is tackled as soon as he marks it – and has no prior opportunity that I can see – it should be a ball-up. No, Carlton free kick and now it’s 17 points and I really hate Carlton. Only 20 minutes have gone and there’s plenty of time for them to pull off an upset.
Vlaustin makes a massive spoil to put the ball out of bounds on the flank. He’s having a very good game and he ran a mile to get to this contest. Carlton attack again and a rushed behind results and they trail by 16. Richmond attack, Graham handpasses to Caddy who goals from a few feet out and Richmond are home. Then Rioli gathers, runs, bounces and kicks long to Castagna who marks in the square as the siren sounds. He goes back and kicks it and the song starts and we’ve won by 28 points.
Full time score: Richmond 11.7.73 to Carlton 6.9.45
While it would have been great to wallop the Blues by 100 points and give our percentage a boost, that was probably never going to happen. They’re a handy team who’ve recently re-learned to believe in themselves and we ought to be happy with the four points. Without Martin and Cotchin too.
This week we play West Coast followed by Brisbane. If we beat both teams we can think ourselves good enough to win the flag. If we lose both we won’t be. Win one and lose won, who knows?
Best players for me were Vlaustin, Graham, Houli, Ellis, Lambert, Edwards and, bugger it, Astbury and Grimes. Those two are always good and, as I’ve pointed out before, it’s very easy to take them for granted.
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Vlastuin 5, Graham 4, Houli 3, Ellis 2, Lambert 1
Stack, Prestia 18
Cotchin, Bolton 7
Nankervis, Graham 5
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)
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
Prestia, Graham 96