Chris Rees has been blogging for 10 years about his kids, his dog, his collection of fictional cars, and Richmond. He only gets to one or two Tigers games a year (usually putrid Round 1 losses to Carlton) but has listened to them play on the radio every week since 1975. Pre 2015 articles are archived here.
- A couple of fours
- Open letter to Richmond: look after Bachar
- Tipping the 2017 season
- Cigarette cards
- A visit to Youngtown
- Horrible in Hobart. Again.
- May gloom
- April gloom
- See us with a grin – R2 v Collingwood
- The other football, my other team
- TTBB merch reminder
- Reading the 2016 tea leaves
- So it’s come to this
- What next?
- The Swan Street billboard
- Double header at home
- Hawks dismantled
- A good game of footy
- You may have heard we beat the Swans
- Friday on my mind
- Eighteen sublime minutes
- The circus comes to town
- Failed to turn up for a 'big game' again
- Anzac Day - Footy beyond the Flannelette Curtain
- One and One
- Arm wrestling a kitten
- A reminder about my Footy Enigma shirts, mugs etc
- Duffle Coat Update
Hello. I am writing as a huge Bachar Houli fan, concerned for his wellbeing.
I love how he plays and what he has brought to RFC and football generally. He is an outstanding person and one we should be very proud to have associated with our club.
I am very upset he has been found to have deliberately struck a fellow player to the head; regardless of the penalty I am sure Bachar is struggling with this characterisation of himself as an intentional thug. I honestly believe he would rather do 4 weeks for “accidental” than 2 weeks for “deliberate”.
I am smart enough to avoid the festering fans’ social media but I have already seen disgusting bigoted language used about him. I do worry in the current climate in this country there is a danger of this getting blown out of proportion and Bachar suffering as a result.
Please if you can, pass on to him that I feel nothing can take away from the amazing work he has done with his foundation and I really urge him to continue, and not take this tribunal finding to heart.
Less than a week to go until we run out to play for premiership points. I have felt weirdly detached from AFL season 2017; due to a combination of AFLW and the Tiges fairly good recruiting. I am enjoying the positive buzz about the new players and not really ready to have it all blown to shreds by reality.
I am doing this ladder because I feel I should, rather than because I have any strong views. Like many I see Richmond improving position a little but not a lot. We were so dire in 2016 that we could improve 25% and still be waaaaay off the pace.
Hang onto your hats and dentures; I am tipping the Western Footscrays to go back to back (I refuse to be spooked by Leicester’s follow-up season). Ignore the Dogs’ premiership drought for a minute, and the feeling of freakishness about their finals campaign. Their coach is a genius, they won the VFL flag so depth does not appear to be a problem, their confidence to beat anybody on their day is going to be sky high. Doggie insanity to pervade September again.
Who are they going to disappoint on Grand Final day? West Coast. Yeah nah, trust me. A very good side who could well be minor premiers but are going to stutter on the big day. Wood to blanket Kennedy. This is actually the GF matchup I tipped last year, I realise now.
Dogs and Eagles get there by beating Swans and GWS. Same last four as 2016. I just can’t see another team forcing their way in. Last year’s 5 to 8 all look to me to be treading water at best.
This year I tip Hawthorn, St Kilda, Adelaide, Geelong to round out the finals.
Close but no cigar to Melbourne and Collingwood – they’ll be in the hunt until round 23. It will be over by round 20 for North, Essendon, Richmond, Gold Coast and Carlton. And it will be over by July for Port, Fremantle and Brisbane.
My tip in the popular “ladder” format;
Greater Western Sydney
For the last few weeks I have been diverting my football-related energies into drawing portraits based on 1930s footy cards. The lighting of the photographs, and the beautiful guernseys are a delight to work with. Then there are the faces, raw and open to the world below haircuts that range from short but stylish to brutal. They’re all ears.
I have only one Richmond player so far but in line is Jack ‘Skinny’ Titus. Who I can confirm (from recent research) is the best match in height and weight for Michael Mitchell (of everyone that has played for the Tigers in the last 80 years).
So here is my line up. I drew them in ciggie card format then superimposed the drawings onto scans of old brown cardboard.
I took my dad and visiting nephew Brin up to Launceston for the big Blues v Hawks game on Saturday. I didn’t feel the need to see the game myself, and anyway it was a sellout, so I was able to drop them at the gate and pick them up again right opposite moments after the final siren. In between I went over to Youngtown, home ground of NTFA side South Launceston, where they were hosting Longford.
When I was a kid and adopting any team called the Tigers, I adopted Longford. Their glory years were the late 50s when they won flags in 55, 57 and 58. A young man called Michael Roach played his first footy there in 75 and 76, dashing up the wing in the yellow sash. The next year he was wearing the same jumper with Richmond in the VFL, and in 1980 kicked the ton and won a premiership. Barry Lawrence won a B&F playing as a forward at Longford before moving to St Kilda.
In those days City South, the Redlegs, were the home team at Youngtown. They also have a marvellous history – they won the three-cornered State Final in 1972, and were invited to play against East Perth and North Adelaide for the Championship of Australia. (It did not go well for the Legs). 30 years ago they merged with East Launceston (the Demons) to enter the then State League, under the name South Launceston, and adopted the Footscray guernsey and Bulldogs nickname. Tasmanian football is in a never-ending state of churn, and South left the latest iteration of the State League after winning their first flag and going broke doing it.
On Saturday I arrived during the first quarter and goals were thin on the ground, although it was a perfect day for footy. (Over at York Park the big boys managed 3 goals between them in the first quarter). It was 2.3 apiece at Youngtown at the first break.
I took some photos of the scoreboard for Scoreboard Pressure. Although State League has come and gone here, it left its mark in the form of an unappealing electronic unit, operated by remote control. A local politician shares sponsorship with another business dealing in rubbish.
I tuned in to the quarter time huddles. Longford spent a long time broken into groups before getting a fairly terse, brief and quiet wrap up from the coach. The Dogs took a more whole-team approach. Both teams were very young and the South coach had to ask for some shoosh a few times, while ironically asking for more talk out on the ground. “Come on it’s the easiest thing in footy just use yer yap”. Preach it fella, I’ve trying to get my soccer kids to do it for years. If you’re slow, tired, or just hopeless, you can still yell.
The home team booted 4 straight to start the 2nd quarter. The Longford full forward and South full back were just having a friendly chat most of that time. Finally on their first push forward Longford hit a target, the string bean steered it straight through, and they followed with two more. Game on, and then it settled into an arm wrestle until half time.
I had to scoot back over to York Park to pick up Dad and Brin at the final siren there, so I had to leave the NTFA behind.
On the way out I was looking for the toilet, saw the familiar stick man sign and pushed through a door. I was nearly poleaxed by the visiting team doctor coming the other way with full kit. ‘Sorry, is this a public toilet?’ ‘Oh yeah no worries just, er, let the boys go first OK?’ So I queued up for a leak behind the Longford backline, a spare man in defence if you will.
York Park is well supplied with half hour parking spots opposite the gate, so I was able to sit there, listen to the last quarter complete with live crowd noise, and Brin and Dad just popped across the road after the siren. (Dad has an injured heel). They were satisfied with Carlton’s effort.
As my father and nephew are both essentially silent men, it was a very quiet drive back down the Midland Highway.
Edit: I forgot to say, the final score was a convincing 13.21.99 to 5.9.39 win to South Launceston.
As an injured Ben Griffiths was being loaded onto the little bus at Bellerive, a North supporter shouted “Make ‘im pay for the petrol!” It was the second trip out for the bus, having taken brave Steve Morris off about five minutes into the game. We were already two goals and two men down (Grimes was a late late late withdrawal) and the game did not get any better.
My elder son Marcus and I caught the free ferry over from the Brooke St Pier with a crowd that seemed predominantly Richmond. All the ferries in town including MONA’s were mobilised, a smart move – no pushing or dramas because they minimised waiting. It was already bloody cold but the passage was calm and scenic. We were surrounded by a lot of mainlanders who were charmed by the city lights, the stars, the little bar right there on board and the novel way of arriving at the footy. Arriving en masse at the footy is quite different to departing; anything is still possible. And few of the arrivals will have been smashing the mid-strength lagers for 3 hours, which is a factor on your way home.
On Bellerive Quay we looked for food but the queues were heavy. Friend of TTBB Ben Walker materialised to advise that the fish and chips wait was 40 minutes, so we went to a local hot chicken shop and outwitted the system by walking out moments later with salads. As we ate the clammy salads with plastic forks outdoors at 4° I felt like a real winner already.
We made our way to the Hill and found a patch of grass. I actually prefer to stand, but the good standing places were full; and we had brought rugs for sitting so we settled down. Shortly after Dugald stepped over us on his way to his family nest, just a Trent Cotchin kick away. There were 17,000 there. The outer was predominantly Tigers but the big stands were solid Shinboner territory. They managed to sway the umpires a number of times with their massed noise.
Now, that’s enough scene setting, lets cut to the game. It was a terrible performance. Just abysmal. We asked ourselves afterwards what highlights we could recall and honestly for me it was the classic Lindsay Thomas greedy moment in the 2nd quarter. Two mates on for a handball near the goalsquare and he went the Hollywood checkside instead for a behind.
Our kicking at goal was poor. Our chasing was poor. Hampson got good numbers but [my usual proviso that I don’t know anything about footy here] I thought Daw killed him. We were lucky to be just 25 points down at halftime. The conditions were very slippery and neither side was handling the ball well. North were smarter; they found alternative roads to goal. Waite is in a form slump and didn’t contribute much; although I did see him go out of his way to fetch the boundary ump the ball which was nice. Ben Brown got his hands on it at least but only kicked one. While Harvey, Wells and Thomas equalled our score between them.
There is a slim chance that with 22 fit we could have held our own and gone down by that half time margin, and that would have got a tick from me. I am charitable enough to say that injuries denied us that slim chance.
Cotchin, Miles, Grigg, Rance, Batchelor and Hunt all performed, and Rioli had his usual glimpses of brilliance. Dusty and Jack were disappointing. When Griffiths went down I took the opportunity to get us some hot food; they weren’t taking EFTPOS but fortunately I had $4 so we had two potato cakes each and I forgot to salt them. Unforced errors everywhere you look.
Despite the cold we were actually quite lucky with the weather. No wind and if there had been even a light shower there would be a pneumonia epidemic now.
The last quarter was poor football all round and fans of both sides made early departures. We stayed for the final bell in the hope of seeing some bit of magic from our boys that might light up the night. No luck.
Waiting for the ferry, there was a mystery group who chose not to queue. The ferries were coming and going frequently, and after a short wait the MONA ferry tied up beside us. Downstairs I could see a table laid with about 400 sausage rolls and bottles of sauce. You beauty David Walsh I thought, laying on a free ferry AND throwing in the sozzie rolls for the punters, what a man he is. Of course our queue didn’t move and in no time the mystery group had filed aboard and could clearly be seen helping themselves to said rolls. It was the one ticketed ferry in amongst the generally otherwise free fleet.
Live AFL is still a rarity for me so it wasn’t until the next day that the glow faded and I thought about how genuinely terrible it was to lose that by 70 points. We have the best possible 3 weeks to patch our wounds; Gold Coast, bye, Brisbane. We need 8 points, percentage boost, players to get form and confidence and the injury list to shorten in those 3 weeks.
I feel I should update my post from two weeks ago, as my views have changed since. I am starting to doubt that Dimma and the players are really on the same page. I still don’t know what the plan is, but Dimma said himself on Saturday night that the 22 did not execute any of it, at any stage. It was an absolute stinker and it got worse as the night went on. A small gap never looked like being closed, and in the last quarter we mustered one behind.
The total crowd of 27,700 suggests that at the very most 22,000 Tigers turned up. So that is one part of my narrative I am sticking to; don’t kid yourself that Tigers fans are exceptional in some way. Our team stinks and we have stopped going along; and rightly so. No criticism intended, how else can you send a message that you are disgusted with what we are serving up? People have other things in their lives. Their footy season is dead on the vine before the end of April and I think any mental health advocate would agree its time to get out in the shed and work on rebuilding that Morris Marina, or join a choir, or volunteer to read to kids at the library.
The horror show wasn’t on TV or ABC radio so I have been spared the worst so far (I will watch it soon because I believe in embracing the pain to deepen the enjoyment of the success which is probably a Catholic thing).
I was trying to work during the game but kept checking Twitter where it unfolded like this.
That was the worst half of football by @Richmond_FC in the last decade. Bereft of ideas, lack of pace and no leaders @ali_yesilyurt
Ellis kicks horribly again and Port go all the way for a goal. Brutal. @chiefinkorea
Heaps of Richmond fans leaving already @CherylCritchley
They say not supporting this is not supporting your club. I refuse to support such ineptitude. Always a Tiger, but Hardwick can get stuffed. @GregGibbo28
Pick 1 looking a distinct possibility. We are playing the worst footy in the comp. @Tigers_of_Old
And of course a lot of frustrated singling out of individuals. Judging by the tweets we were lazy, careless and at times gutless. The question has to be asked at Punt Road; why is this group not giving their all for the coach and the club? Has Dimma, after an effective and successful stint, reached the end of his road with these players?
@GregGibbo28 penned a great piece after the game that is well worth a read.
Myself; I do not accept that the quality of our list explains a performance like that, or a 1-5 start. Individuals are not giving us what they capable of, whether that’s down to niggling injuries, tiredness or just loss of faith in Dimma and maybe some of the players around them.
Edwards, Brandon Ellis and Martin are skilled players who are massively underperforming on what we have come to expect. Add that to our injury problems and some inexplicable selections, and I think we end up with 22 blokes looking at each other as they go through the banner thinking “I don’t think this team can win”. Because that is how they are playing – there is a resignation, a sense of giving in to the inevitable.
I do want to thank Robbo and the subs at the Herald Sun for this story and headline, it really gave a lot footy followers a good laugh on Saturday and threw the evening’s events into sharp relief.
As a calming and forward-looking exercise I have picked a team to play Hawthorn. I would love to have Chol and Marcon in there too but they are unpromoted rookies and not eligible for selection – this is another one of the many finer points of modern footy I don’t understand. (I have also never bothered to learn what a powerplay is in one day cricket.) To quote Corbo who had a preview of my team, the “back 6 looks like it would let in 25 Essendon goals”.
B Astbury Elton Batchelor
HB Broad Houli McIntosh
C Rioli Grigg C Ellis
HF Short Griffiths Deledio
F Lloyd Riewoldt Lennon
FOL Maric Martin Edwards
I/C Miles Castagna Vickery Menadue
Ins: McIntosh Elton Lennon Short Griffiths Broad
Outs: Lambert Cotchin B Ellis Hampson Chaplin Morris
Injured/Susp: Vlastuin Cotchin Lambert Grimes Rance Conca Yarran Drummond
We are pretty used to this now; the high hopes, the slow start, the injuries, the scapegoats, the excuses, the footy media loving it, the coach in post-match giving away nothing. It’s all standard.
I am suspicious of any special pleading, the claims that Richmond is different. We stick out on some measures because we have a big membership compared to our historic ladder positions. Aside from that we have had a premiership drought (common), a bad run with injuries (common) we have lost some close games (common) and lost a string of finals (common).
This article by Jonathan Horn is one of many you’ll find as a Tiges supporter telling you that you’re amazingly devoted, your passion is unmatched, you are dyed in the wool, great for footy etc. Talk about having smoke blown up your arse.
I have floated the idea before that the fans are the reason for this club’s persistent failure. I don’t know if it’s true but I think it warrants consideration. The mythology is that we eat ’em alive, and while that phrase was coined to describe our team’s attitude to the opposition, it easily transfers to our administration’s attitude to the coach, and our fans attitude to anyone at the club that’s perceived to be underperforming.
And there are certainly savage responses when we lose the games we shouldn’t; but what club doesn’t have that? Maybe the Giants and Suns are too new to have developed that irascible, scarred, one-eyed hard core that loves a club scapegoat, and thrills to the sound of the knives being sharpened outside the coach’s office. But every other club has this.
What I see on field are inexplicable brain fades. Our problems are so often mental. I do not know what our game plan is, but I’m sure the players do. And its probably a good one. I believe hand-on-heart that Hardwick is a good coach. He has out-coached the benchmark, Alistair Clarkson, on several occasions – the bloke can do the job. I just wonder if the mythology of us as some kind of superfans breeds fear and second-guessing in the players. I am certain that in part it is responsible for the “four walls” nonsense. A few microwaves and some chicken shit and someone once spat on Spud Frawley and that’s why we can’t have nice things. It’s often said that our players are the dumbest, and its often a Tiges fan doing the talking. Now – Cotch giving away 50 by collecting Darling around the chops looked dumb. But his leadership had been bagged all week in the papers, radio and on the TV modular lounge suite programs. I understand why he might have done that.
We try to walk the tightrope here at TTBB. There is no point in just writing Go Tiges, You’re All Lovely Boys. Heads Up! Well, there is room on the spectrum for that but we also have to be a voice for the reasonable frustrations of the fans. Again – any club will have this when they are 1-3 after playing regular finals and expecting to do so again.
April is not a time to point the finger at recruitment. Our unit have a good recent track record, and its early days. But I have a lot of selection questions which I will try to couch in positive language
- McBean can play. He can kick straight. His elevation is a perennial obsession with the fans, and hard heads need to make these decisions. But he has had 2 games. It’s time.
- Batchelor was one of our most improved last year. Hasn’t been sighted this year. Our back six were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, an ARIA award and collective King of Moomba last year – why have we mucked around with it?
- Miles, Edwards, Martin, B. Ellis have all started flat. Miles is a very important player for us and I was shocked to see him dropped to the VFL. Could that happen to the other three?
- How far away is Nathan Drummond from playing?
The good thing is that I think we are going to come right. It’s not going to be a J curve but we will win maybe ten or eleven games this year. We are not going to play finals and that’s disappointing; but I think we are going to unearth some guns and the club is not going to fall apart. We all agreed over summer that going out in the first week of finals again would be a killer; well I think we have avoided that. We stay fit, we stick together, we recruit well and go again in 2017 and play serious finals.
I agree 100% with Andy’s piece today; the club is in great shape. We are miserable because we have been moderately successful and so we have moved the goalposts.
We on this side of the fence can do our part.
- Stop feeling sorry for ourselves
- Stop trying to win the “my club is the unluckiest/stupidest” argument with Dees and Dogs fans
- Get off Dimma’s back
- Don’t let anyone blow smoke up your arse.
That was as bad a game of footy as I ever want to see. We kicked at goal and around the ground atrociously, copped injuries all over the place, our skills were 2008-standard, the game plan was mystifying and the individual efforts you could respect were few and far between. And Collingwood were worse.
On top of that we lost by the worst margin of all, from a ropey free kick with 4 seconds to go. Oh, and the morons [and I mean that in the strict 1950s medical sense] of the United Patriots Front chose this game to bring an anti-mosques banner to the MCG and also favour Collingwood with their support.
Despite all this, today I still love footy. And I don’t know quite what I can put that down to except that its only April and there is time to improve. Here are my positives.
- Jayden Short played out of his skin on his debut – which is not a guarantee of longevity (Dean Polo, Dan Connors) but it really counted for something in such a damp team effort.
- I was impressed with our approach when in possession right from the start – everyone seemed to have taken some Dustin Martin pills. Instead of the handball putting a mate under pressure or the underground kick, Tigers were taking and breaking tackles. Even young players were backing themselves in and despite this tactic we didn’t give up a holding the ball free kick in the first half at all.
- Jack willed himself into the game
- Shaun Hampson had a hell of a game. He’s not a popular Tiger and if Maric was available 100% of fans would prefer Maric. And watching him kick for goal could be an alternative non-custodial sentence. But he never gave up, a lot of his tap work was excellent, he laid a superb shirtfront and all carrying a calf injury he picked up in the opening minutes.
- The youth policy is a good one and we have to keep at it. Menadue, Short, Townsend and Lambert (twice) have been in the best players in these two poor team efforts.
- Regardless of what is going on in his head, Ty is our most reliable kick for goal.
Of course there were negatives everywhere you look.
- Again many high profile players had no impact, and it was left to too few. Rance was so good last week but really out of sorts all through last night.
- Turnovers all night destroyed any flow we looked like developing. Some of the culprits had better dig out the Melways because they’ll be playing at Morris Street, Williamstown next weekend.
- Kicking for goal was very poor. As John Carr observes in his Midnight Pod of Misery, in one case a left footer lined up for goal like he wasn’t sure what foot he was going to use and kicked it exactly where it was always going to go. Dusty could employ the orthodox drop punt more often.
- Related; our system needs serious work if it results in suspect kicks like Cotch or Hampson taking set shots. They are always going to miss and that’s a promising inside 50 wasted. As Hampson lined up for goal Bruce McAvaney said “Can kick a goal” – my 14yo said “well yes, technically correct”.
- Some 2nd year players who played a lot of games last year with the fearlessness of youth, looked last night like they knew enough to have doubts.
- Decision making is affected by tiredness, and ours was dreadful in the last quarter.
- I have serious concerns for Ty’s wellbeing. Within 10 minutes he handpassed to a team-mates back, and dobbed a shortpass inside 50 to someone who wasn’t there. He also came out of a pack where Jack had been awarded a mark in front of goal, waving his arms as though appealing for a free. Is he really over his concussion?
- Injuries are mounting. Shaun Grigg’s calf, Shaun Hampson’s calf, Short’s shoulder, Astbury’s whack in the face all caused concern, and Grimes didn’t return after halftime after a low hammy strain. Unavailable for this game were Edwards, Yarran, Deledio, Maric and Conca. I think we are going to see more youngsters than we expected to over the next month
So more negatives than positives of course. To come are Adelaide at Docklands, West Coast over yonder and Melbourne at the MCG. If you know anything at all about Richmond, you’ll know the one I am dreading is the Dees.
The first footy game I ever saw is lost in the mists of time. The first soccer match, on the other hand, is cemented in my mind. The 1975 FA Cup at Wembley, long haired Alan Taylor scoring twice for the claret and blue of West Ham against the feeble white of Fulham. And with that I became a West Ham fan.
They won the Cup again in 1980.
I cannot honestly swear to have followed them through thick and thin. In recent years they have been strangers to Free To Air television, and its largely been through the Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast that I have kept in touch with their travails.
Football, and now I am talking about your association football, whipped-in-from-the-corner-flag, curled-over-the-wall-and-in off-the-crossbar, come-on-ref-he’s-off-by-miles, striker-on-loan, 4-4-2, stepover stepover nutmeg game – its a soap opera. The Hammers have had some batshit insane star players (Paolo di Canio) some deeply ropey managers (‘Arry Redknapp) and the current owners I believe made their money in the porn industry. I could never take any football team as seriously as I take my Aussie Rules team – it would just kill me.
But, I do love West Ham. They trumpet their legacy of playing ‘beautiful football’ – three of the England 1966 World Cup winning side were from Upton Park. To be fair they have abandoned ‘beautiful football’ whenever it has suited them, but the current side is living up to that legacy. They are playing beautifully, and they are winning, just at the precise time some of the perennial big clubs are struggling. Chelsea started the season so badly, they sacked The Special One. Manchester United are in a funk, and have apparently lined up The Special One to take over next year. Manchester City seem to be in a holding pattern as they wait for Pep Guardiola to arrive for next season – the players seem to think it would impolite to win the league with the outgoing manager. Arsenal just can’t be trusted to win anything. Liverpool – not sure they are still in the Premier League, I’ll have to check.*
The real excitement is all about Leicester, who at this point last season were odds on to be relegated. They weren’t, but they sacked their manager anyway (more for off field issues than anything), then hired a man who most football followers would characterise as a Harmless Grandpa in Claudio Ranieri. They are now nearly 3 wins clear on top of the table. Even so, the hardest heads are tipping they will falter and be run over at the end by … Spurs. Usually hovering between 5th and 8th, Spurs have never really seemed like a threat to muscle past the big money of the Manchesters, Chelsea and Liverpool.
OK, back to West Ham now. They are fifth. I don’t think they can win the league from there, although its mathematically possible. But they are a bloody good chance of a top four finish and that means; Champions League. On a practical level that brings an influx of cash but on a football level it means Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint Germain, Real Madrid. I might get to watch Auckland’s own Winston Reid clean up Ronaldo, now that would be really something.
Not only are the Hammers on the cusp of [operatic choir] The Championsssssssssssss but they only have to get over a disinterested Man Utd to meet Everton in an FA Cup Semi Final. In the other semi, the very beatable Crystal Palace play Watford. In other words I am predicting that West Ham are going to win the FA Cup in 2016. They last won in 1980. What else happened in 1980?
OK, sure Fleetwood Mac were number 1 with Tusk for about 6 months but I was thinking more of this;
*That was a joke Liverpool fans of course you are still in the Premier League AND the highly regarded Europa Cup which was almost won by Fulham.