At the dawn of the 2013 season a man named Sean Ross had a vision; his own personal Richmond best and fairest. He called it The Benny. In the spirit of presentation nights across the land, he added extra gongs to pad it out. The Blair Hartley Appreciation Award for best of the foreign legion. The Anthony Banik Best First Year Player. The Joel Bowden’s Golden Left Boot for left footers. And the Greg Tivendale Rookie Medal for Tigers on the rookie list at the start of the season. Cotch won the inaugural Benny in 2013, Brandon Ellis won in 2014, Dusty in 2015 and again in 2016. Sean will occasionally visit in an Emeritus Professor role, but now it is for the TTBB team and frequent Special Guests to cast the votes and make try to make sense of the M.C. Escher-like world that is Richmond. A new non-voted award is on offer in 2017, the Maurice Rioli Grip of Death Trophy which will go to the club’s top tackler, across AFL and VFL teams.
- Round 18 v Brisbane at the Metricon (Carrara)
- Round 17 v Collingwood at the MCG
- Round 13 v West Coast Eagles at Perth Stadium
- Dreamtime in Perth
- Round 9 v Greater Western Sydney at Docklands, Saturday 15 May 2021
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- Round 2 v Collingwood at the MCG - Deepest, darkest fears
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- 2018 season wrap and final voting results
- Round 11 v Essendon at the MCG - Dreamtime
- Preliminary Final v Collingwood at the MCG
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- Round 23 v Western Bulldogs at the MCG
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- Round 16 v Adelaide at the MCG - take a second look
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- Round 18 v St Kilda at Docklands
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- Round 12 v Port Adelaide, Adelaide Oval – The Benny 2018
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- Round 9 v West Coast, Optus Stadium Perth – The Benny 2018
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- Benny Roster 2018
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- The winning bit (& bumper stickers & The Tigers’ Almanac)
- Benny Award final tally
- Preliminary Final v GWS at the MCG
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- Benny Round 19: Gold Coast V Richmond, Metricon Stadium
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- The Benny has a new home
- 2014 Full Benny Results
Friday 16 July, 2021
I have given us no chances of winning this game and that was before the Covid-19 restrictions caused it to be moved to Queensland. I am completely at peace with this absence of hope. We have to win to make the finals and as I gave up on that score when the Pies beat us last week, all is well. In the end though, I get sucked into watching and then caring. And then, worst of all, hoping. Hope dies hard, someone said.
The match starts at least 15 minutes late as both teams, apparently, are caught in a terrible traffic jam on their way to the ground. Nank and Lambert are welcome returns to the side in Riewoldt’s 300th game. Matthew Parker, the heavily-inked former Saint, is making his debut for the Tigers.
Brisbane attack first and McStay almost marks but it’s not paid and the Tigers rebound. Riewoldt had a chance to snap a goal but the kick goes across the goal-face and is marked by Lynch who delivers. There are a few thousand spectators in the ground, apparently, but any cheering they might do after the goal is drowned out by the music blaring over the speakers.
Richmond attack again, Brisbane’s clearing kick is marked by Martin who plays on and goals. We’ve started well but that doesn’t mean so much. We’ve started a lot of games well lately and it’s been a month since we won. McCarthy out-marks Mansell for Brisbane’s first goal before Parker has a set shot from 45 out. His kick is bad and drifts away to the right where Riewoldt takes a big grab and kicks truly. Things stop going our way though. Charlie Cameron pulls one back for the Lions and then McIntosh goes off with a hammy. He’s been playing very well the past two seasons but it’s only when he goes off the ground for good that I realise how much we’ll miss him.
Things go our way again though – there is no end to footy’s rollercoaster. Robertson marks and will surely goal for the Lions but the ball is turned over after McStay gave Rioli a shove and the umpire gave him a free. Parker takes a great mark 55 out but the subsequent attack fizzles out. With two minutes left Short goes for a good little run through the middle, takes two bounces and kicks to Chol 45 out on a tight angle. It’s the wrong side for a left-footer and his kick seems to drop near the line. He likes it though and the goal umpire agrees and we’re two goals up again.Embed from Getty Images
Bloody McStay pulls one back though with a free kick from 25 out. Riewoldt has a shot after the siren a long way out and on the boundary but his kick falls short. I’m not surprised, he’s never been the longest kick.
Quarter time score: Richmond 4.2.26 to Brisbane 3.1.19
It’s been a good, even quarter from us. McIntosh was very good, of course, before he was injured. Garthwaite and Mansell appear to be struggling a bit in defence, but Grimes and Astbury are doing well. Cotch has had his best quarter for ages and has laid five tackles, while the other mids and the forward pressure have a pleasing 2017-2020 look. It’s magnificent seeing Toby go around again and Parker has a very determined air about him.Embed from Getty Images
Graham gets the first goal of the second quarter following another period of pressure in the forward line. Sadly, Daniher sneaks off by himself at the back of a pack and kicks an easy goal a minute later. There is a lot of support among the sparse crowd and a good chant gets going after Graham’s goal. But Daniher gets another damn goal straight away and the scores are level and it looks a bit too easy for Brisbane. I worry about Garthwaite and Mansell. Garth only seems to get a game when we’re really hard up which must make it hard for him. And then he’s never in the side long enough to get used to it. Tonight looks like another such experience for him.
This becomes a stretch of play with awful echoes of the last quarter against Collingwood. We can’t get our hands on the footy at the centre bounce and the Lions are doing what they want. McCarthy marks and goals to put the Lions in front and the Tigers are fading. Nankervis crashes Daniher to the ground but is pinged for a dangerous tackle. The commentators all think it wasn’t a free. But in any case Daniher misses the shot.
The relief is short-lived. Our bad run continues. We can’t win the footy and when we do we give it away or handpass to someone who is tackled immediately. But Brisbane manage not to score and then a Richmond attack comes off. Graham gets it to Bolton who passes to Parker who gets it to Dusty. He launches a huge, centering kick to Chol who is outnumbered three-to-one but pulls off a brilliant soccer goal. It’s his second for the game and he’s been playing well and for all my gloom and doom we’re only a point down.
Riewoldt marks but misses and Robertson marks at the other end and puts the Lions five points up. The dangerous tackle interpretation goes our way as Castagna wins a free. Stack sends a big, long kick into the forward line and Riewoldt takes a huge mark and kicks the goal. Scores are level, but only briefly. Another dead-easy goal from the centre bounce for the Lions. We just have to stop teams doing that to us, it’s completely unfair.
Half-time score: Richmond 7.4.46 to Brisbane 8.4.52
Bailey puts the Lions 13 points up early in the third. They break away very quickly from the middle and our defenders are often caught out. Rioli takes a very good intercept mark to prove me wrong but our attack breaks down. Toby sends a huge handpass to a team-mate to launch another Tiger attack which again is repulsed. Then Toby marks and kicks to Astbury and the Tigers are away. Astbury gets it to Stack who sends a beautiful kick from 60 meters out to Shai who marks 20 out, plays on and goals.
The music which greets this goal is an abomination, but still, we’re not dead yet. Riewoldt marks a kick from Dusty and kicks his third goal from close range. We’re three points down and things are getting better in the backline too. Garth makes a great spoil and seems to be getting more confident. Shai has a set shot from 40 but his kick is awful. Am I wrong or does his set-shot kicking need a bit of work?Embed from Getty Images
Chol takes a big mark at half-forward. He’s not the only fringe player who looks like he means business tonight. Bolton’s gather, bounce and run is a thing of beauty. His kick is marked by Riewoldt 40 out, running with the flight. He kicks his fourth goal and we’re in front and have kicked three in a row. There is a ball-up 60 out from our goal, a free is called, then “advantage!” and Martin gathers and kicks to Chol who marks and goals and we’ve kicked four in a row and lead by 10 points.
At the centre bounce Mitch Robinson crashes into Dusty who goes down, looking badly winded. He’s led off the ground but will surely not be gone long. Castagna has a chance to put us further in front but misses with Riewoldt and others free. Riewoldt then wins a very soft free for an alleged push which even the slow-mo can hardly detect. The injustice of the free doesn’t bother him and he kicks his fifth and we’re 17 points up with just over a minute left.
It’s a bad minute though. Cameron marks and goals from the 50 with six seconds left on the clock.
Three-quarter time score: Richmond 12.6.78 to Brisbane 10.7.67Embed from Getty Images
The word is that Martin is quite badly hurt. Commentators are thinking he’s broken a rib. In any case he is soon seen zipping up the Jacket of Oblivion and Jack Ross comes on. The quarter begins in a discouraging fashion when Bolton kicks well into the forward line and Lynch goes to ground for no obvious reason. At the other end Grimes drops a regulation chest mark which leads to a boundary throw-in instead of a Tiger getaway. Somehow we do get away with it though.
The umpires give another dangerous tackle free, this time to McCluggage on the Richmond forward line. Things go our way though when Lynch wins a free for a block that was barely there. He kicks a goal from 20 and we’re back to a 17-point lead.
Chol kicks the goal of the night shortly after, dodging past two or three lunging defenders before kicking it from 50 out. He does have a beautiful kicking action and when this one sails through I begin to think we could win this. It’s his fourth for the night and it’s the best game I’ve seen him play.
Castagna misses another chance after ignoring Riewoldt’s lead. Another dangerous tackle is paid to McCluggage, this time against Stack. McCluggage delivers and we’re 19 points up with plenty of time left for Brisbane. Richmond attack and are certain to score with free players everywhere you look inside the 50. Somehow Lynch, under no pressure, finds the only Lion within cooee and hits him on the chest, laces out. The ball is rushed down the other end where Brisbane score and it’s only 13 points. We might have sealed it a moment before but didn’t and I’m pretty cross with Lynch.Embed from Getty Images
The team does not go to water though. Aarts gathers with his usual skill and kicks it to Graham. In the absence of Dusty he knows that he has to go up a level and he does. From the 50 he kicks it and his team-mates get around him. They know how big this is, against a top-four team playing in their home state, with Dusty gone for the night and a run of four losses behind us.
Riewoldt kicks a point from a tight angle, a good way out. The Lions need four goals in three and a half minutes and the game might be ours. But Daniher is left un-tethered in the goal-square like a harmless, old house-cow and now it’s only three goals in three minutes. Astbury goes off injured. I can see the horror show unfolding. But the clock ticks under two minutes and the Lions still need three. Lambert, who has had a very good game, kicks to Riewoldt who wins a down-field free with half a minute left. He kicks goal number six and we’re up by 20 and hope has well and truly reared its head.Embed from Getty Images
Final score: Richmond 16.10.106 to Brisbane 13.8.86
It’s been a great win and like our best wins it’s hard to pick the best players without naming half the team. Chol has had his best game that I’ve seen and Riewoldt, the Kid from Clarence, has kicked six in his 300th. Toby’s return has been more than welcome and many think he’s been best on ground. It occurs to me that for all his great work in the ruck and in marking contests, he actually gets paid by the tackle. Astbury and Grimes probably saved the game for us early and Mansell and Garthwaite found their way into the game after some bad moments at the start. Rioli has been terrific off half back. Lambert and Graham have been good. See – half the damn side.
Now another tough game against the Cats at the ‘G in front of no crowd.
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.
Perth Stadium, Saturday 12 June 2021Embed from Getty Images
By my calculations, if Richmond are to make the top-four we have only one or two losses left and this had better not be one of them. On the other hand, winning in Perth is never easy and I can’t remember when we last beat the Eagles there.
Presti is out injured but Lambert is back in which is huge. Apparently, the Eagles also have some good players injured but I don’t care about them.
In any case we start well. C C-Jones almost pulls of a very good mark, Aarts gets a point for us, the first score of the game and Chol wins the first three ball-ups against Natanui. Riewoldt kicks the first goal with a clever soccer kick – he’s got a few of these lately – after Pickett had sent in a long pass. Unfortunately, Naitanui soon gets one for the Eagles, a very clever snap from the boundary. The Tigers respond with a good period in which they dominate but don’t score. Vlaustin is doing well in defence and sends a long kick into the forward line. Riewoldt marks and kicks the goal and with half the first term gone we lead 2.2 to 1.0.Embed from Getty Images
Bloody Kennedy marks twice and goals, once from close in and once from 45 out and the Eagles clearly have their kicking boots on.
But it’s still been a good quarter for us at a hostile venue. Our best players have been Vlaustin, Chol and Houli. Grimes has done well too.
Quarter time score: West Coast 3.0.18 to Richmond 2.2.14
Early in the quarter Bolton has a very good chance but his kick goes out on the full. The Eagles have evidently sprinkled all the magic goal-kicking dust on their own boots. Caddy hits the post from 45 out on a tight angle. I actually thought he did well to hit the post. West Coast rebound too easily through the middle, Cripps marks and goals and we really need the next one.Embed from Getty Images
Into attack we go, Rioli wins a free for high contact on the 50, but Graham takes the advantage, plays on and goals and it’s 4.0 to 3.3. Another promising attack is ruined by a poor kick into the forward line. The Eagles rebound again and Oscar Allen goals from a set shot, 55m out. If we are to win this, we just can’t let the Eagles have the footy in their forward half. Nor in their back half, for that matter.
But just as I’m starting to think that this might be too hard, Dusty gathers and goals from the boundary as if it were the most basic skill in footy. The silence of the crowd is eloquent. Best of all is that Dusty had taken the footy from the ball-up in which, effectively, Richmond didn’t even have a ruck. He just stole the ball from the Eagles’ tap and away he went.Embed from Getty Images
Bolton marks, plays on and kicks to C C-Jones who marks and wins a 50 for late contact. I think it’s a fair call but there seem to be West Coast fans who disagree. It’s an easy goal and we’re in front again, 5.3 to 5.0. Then Aarts refuses to be tackled, runs in and goals on the run from 45 out and the young feller seems quite at home in this team. The quarter is half over and we’re in front by nine points.
It gets better when Bolton flies very high without marking, Lambert then gets the footy, runs in and goals and it’s a big welcome back to the Pride of Preston and we’re 15 points in front. Sadly, the Eagles don’t go away and win a free for high contact against Grimes. Jones goals from the set shot and the Eagles still haven’t missed which is disturbing. Broad does very well to stop another West Coast attack but his clearing kick is marked by Waterman who goals – of course – from 45. We lead by three points.
At some point West Coast get a point which must annoy them. Pickett wins a ruck contest – yes, Pickett – and taps the ball to Bolton who sends a long kick to Riewoldt who takes a very good mark but misses the set shot. The siren goes and we’ve won the quarter. Pickett and Bolton have been good but the whole team has been solid.
Half-time score: West Coast 7.1.43 to Richmond 7.5.47
West Coast begin the second half in more promising fashion by having two kicks spoiled on the line with no forwards there to make good. The game becomes very slow and tactical. McIntosh does well but one set shot hits the post and his second misses too. But he makes amends when his pass is marked by C C-Jones who kicks the first goal of the quarter with 7.30 left on the clock. Once again, the crowd silence is a thing of beauty.Embed from Getty Images
West Coast attack again and somehow Baker, all five foot eight of him, manages to spoil the mark. The Tigers rebound and once again McIntosh is involved and Castagna trots into an open goal and kicks it. We lead 9.8 to 7.3. Naitanui wins a free for in-the-back, plays on, shrugs away the tackler as if he were a loose scrap of paper in a light breeze and kicks to Ryan who has somehow found himself by himself. He goals from 30m out and when the siren goes we’re up by two goals.
It’s been a good quarter for us. Vlaustin has been good again and so has McIntosh. We’ve been very disciplined and have stopped West Coast’s tiresome kick-and-mark game. I’m hopeful that we’ll finish strongly.
Three-quarter time score: West Coast 8.3.51 to Richmond 9.9.63
In the last term the Tigers cover themselves in glory until they don’t. The Eagles get it back to one goal when Kennedy marks and goals from an angle, again. Oscar Allen misses after taking a good mark and playing on. I have thought all game that if they could just start missing their shots, we might win this. But they attack again and again and we can’t seem to find a way out. Castagna makes a mark-saving spoil deep in the back line. At last the Tigers rebound, Dusty makes a tackle, Bolton gathers and gives it back to Dusty who runs in and kicks it along the ground and through the big sticks.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
A minute later Lambert goals off a step from just inside the 50 and we lead by 17 points with five minutes gone. Oscar Allen wins a very dubious free kick for a dangerous tackle, right in front. As sometimes happens, he can’t believe it’s a free kick either and sportingly misses the easy shot. If only they could keep missing…
There follows a long period where the ball stays in the West Coast forward line, but eventually we break away again and Bolton goals on the run from 50m and surely we can win this now? We lead by 22 points but there 11 minutes left – which is a long time, as Lou Richards used to say, “the way footy’s played today.”
Someone says that fatigue might become a factor. For unknown reasons, Richmond, who played in Perth last Saturday, had flown back to Sydney after the game and then back to Perth for this one. I know that flying 8000km is not quite as hard as walking 8000km, but still. Why did they do that? West Coast haven’t travelled anywhere.
In any case, mistakes start to happen. Grimes throws the footy and Waterman just sneaks in the free kick for a goal. We attack again but stuff up the last kick into the 50 and West Coast rebound. Cripps goals and we lead by 10 points with seven minutes left.
Baker gives away a free for deliberate out-of-bounds but Ryan manages only a point. Naitanui takes a great mark in a pack but misses from close range. Is it possible they could kick their way out of this? But the poor kicking is contagious and Vlaustin’s kick-in is the worst I’ve seen him do. It just clears Pickett’s head and goes into the arms of Edwards – their Edwards, not ours – on the 50 who kicks calmly to Oscar Allen who marks and goals from close range. It’s down to a few points now and the Eagles are all over us.Embed from Getty Images
We have another chance for a goal but again the last kick lets us down as Castagna kicks it straight to Hurn at full-back. From there the Eagles rebound quickly. Yeo sends a long kick toward Broad and Ryan. Ryan gathers the loose footy and kicks it 1450mm to Kennedy who is awarded the mark and goals from a tight angle. Again. There are 36 seconds left and all is not lost.Embed from Getty Images
It does seem to be though when the Eagles win the tap at the re-start. But Grimes wins the footy back for us. We need one more bit of luck and we might have it when Grimes might have given away a free for in-the-back but there’s no whistle. He kicks to Chol who takes the ball an inch off the deck and handpasses to Vlaustin who is steaming past. Vlaustin’s kick is spilled by Riewoldt just outside the 50 but he gathers the loose ball and gets it to Martin who runs out of the centre square and lets fly from the 50. It’s two-against-two in our forward line but Hurn swallows it again and it’s all over.Embed from Getty Images
It has been a great game, but gee it hurts to lose. Especially to a club with such an awful jumper and wretched song. But I’m being small-minded. The Eagles were very good. They seem to take goal-kicking practice very seriously. And they’ve come back from four goals down half-way through the last quarter.
Hard to pick our best players, as usual. Lambert has been great on his return. The defenders have all done well in a tough gig, but Vlaustin might have been the best of them. And it will be forgotten, as we lost this game and didn’t kick a goal in the last half-minute, but the composure and skill of Grimes, Chol, Vlaustin, Riewoldt and Martin right at the end is something they should be proud of.Embed from Getty Images
Essendon v Richmond, Saturday 5 June 2021
Richmond are wearing a beautiful jumper for tonight’s game while the Bombers, with the greatest respect, are not. It has way too much red and this will surely hinder their play.
This turns out to be true. Mabior Chol starts the game very strongly and almost kicks a goal in the first minute when he runs in and boots the ball from long range. But it’s slightly off-target and we lead 1-0. Presti gets a point to double our lead and then C C-Jones wins a lucky free in the goal-square and kicks our first goal. After each goal tonight someone plays the digeridoo which is a nice touch. Dusty fires in a bullet of a pass to C C-Jones who marks and ought to take the kick but is persuaded to give it back to Dusty who snaps and misses.Embed from Getty Images
Chol takes what Richo tells us is his third intercept mark and the game is only minutes old. He wins the footy again and kicks beautifully to Martin who marks and goals from 30m out. Essendon get their first after a Tiger turnover. Andy McGrath goes off injured for the Bombers. I haven’t followed their fortunes closely of late but we are told this is a big blow for them. McDonald-Tipungwuti is very quiet, but nobody seems to notice this until he gets his first kick in the last quarter. It could be because he’s injured or maybe the Tiger playing on him, which could be Short, is a gun defender. So many unknowns.
Vlaustin kicks well to Edwards who kicks perfectly to Castagna, directly in front, 30 from goal. George kicks it “over the umpire’s hat,” according to McLachlan who, as a commentator, is better than BT.
George is involved in our next goal when he wins the footy near the boundary and sends in a long kick to Riewoldt who marks and goals from 15 metres. The siren goes and were up by 19 points.
Quarter-time score: Essendon 1.2.8 to Richmond 4.3.27
Richmond holds the Bombers at arms-length in the second term. At times it looks like they might put them away but they don’t. A highlight is Caddy’s almost-stuff-up. He should kick from one pocket but wants to give the ball away. Somehow, he ends up on the other side of the goals and kicks a left-foot goal over his head. He’s turned a difficult shot into an almost impossible one and pulled it off. Well done Josh. It puts us 27 points up but the Bombers come back before the main break.Embed from Getty Images
Half-time score: Essendon 5.4.34 to Richmond 8.7.55
Again in the third term we look at times like we might bury the Bombers but we can’t quite do it. At one point the lead is five goals but it’s down to 16 points just before the last change. Dusty’s goal with 30 seconds left to make us more comfortable. Or is that complacent?
Three quarter-time score: Essendon 8.10.58 to Richmond 12.8.80
I’ve enjoyed the game so far but I wish we were further in front. Three or four goals is just not enough. The lead can disappear faster than fifty dollars on a holiday.
My pessimism is well-founded. Riewoldt has a chance to put us further in front but his kick falls short and would have missed anyway. Parish, with his 38th possession, kicks long to Hooker who marks and goals from right in front.
Things get better when Stringer marks on a tight angle and then passes to Waterman who misses. This is a great let-off for the Tigers who clear the ball with promise from defence. A good rebound is underway but the umpire has spotted Dusty thumping someone 100m up the ground and awards a free kick to the Bombers on their forward line. Hooker gets another one and our lead is down to nine points. I’m very cross with Dusty – a clenched fist, 100m off the ball? How was that ever going to help?Embed from Getty Images
A minute later McDonald-Tipungwuti, with what Richo notes is his first kick of the game, passes to Langford who marks and goals. The Bombers are within a kick, the last quarter has barely started and the very pro-Essendon crowd are roaring. Footy doesn’t get much worse than this.Embed from Getty Images
Only it does. Very soon after Waterman runs onto a loose ball and puts the Bombers in front. There are 13 minutes left in the game and Richmond can’t get their hands on the footy. This puts them at a great disadvantage, you’d have to say.
But we do get our hands on it and Riewoldt wins a free for holding about 50 from goal. Aarts gets the footy as the whistle is blown, plays on and misses and everyone thinks, he shouldn’t have done that. Which is easy to say after you’ve missed, but from the free Jack was no certainty. Things are looking up for us though, especially as Stringer gets the footy and kicks out on the full. Aarts kicks to Castagna who marks 20 out, kicks the set-shot around the corner, like all the cool players do now and we’re back in front.Embed from Getty Images
Richmond attack again, Riewoldt plays very cleverly near the boundary, keeps the ball in, doesn’t let himself be tackled and kicks to Bolton who gathers and goals and we’re one and a bit goals in front and breathing a bit easier on the couch in Preston. Edwards follows up with what has to be a deliberate off-the-side-of-the-boot kick that lands in Dusty’s lap. He makes amends for his clenched fist off-the-ball and goals from 50 out. His kick is perfect, dropping neatly once it crosses the line. We’re up by 16 and there’s seven minutes left.
Edwards, who is having a good game, kicks into the 50 and Bolton takes a terrific mark which is disallowed for a faint push from Riewoldt. Really. I think that the faint push should be out-weighed by the brilliance of the mark. That ought to be the rule, but it’s not. The commentators and the cameras and therefore us in Preston are pre-occupied with the disallowed mark and so it remains a mystery to this day how the next bit of play unfolds. Somehow Essendon manage to cough up the ball from the resulting free kick which is bad for them as it’s deep in our forward line. A manic passage of play ensues. Riewoldt is brought down, the ball spills loose into a pack of players, Graham barges in, grabs the footy and barges out again. Half the Essendon team are trying to tackle him but he somehow handballs to Bolton. Shai is almost tackled and almost falls over and is almost tripped. Almost, but not. He spins out of trouble and snaps the ball back across his body.Embed from Getty Images
On the couch I am amazed that the ball even got to him, dumbfounded that he wasn’t stopped by the Bomber defenders who were in good number. I’m incredulous that he actually got his kick away. The fact that it’s a goal is beyond belief, one of those things that just cannot be. It can’t and yet it is and Richmond are up by 22 points with six minutes left. Seven minutes earlier we had just lost the lead and the Bombers were rampaging. Now we’ve put them back in their box and shown them how to play footy.
Prestia has to go off with an injury which is very sad as he only just got back into the team. Rioli comes on in his place. Balta, who has had a good game in defence, gets the ball on the forward flank, takes one step and lets fly from outside the 50. It’s a goal, of course. We are putting on a clinic for the Bombers and teaching them not to steal a lead from us in the last quarter after we’ve been in front all night.Embed from Getty Images
We lead by more than four goals and there are four minutes left which is a recipe for relief. McIntosh, back on his home soil in the West, marks and goals and the players look as relieved as we feel. In the last minute Rioli goals from a long Pickett handpass and we’re 39 points up when the siren goes.
Final score: Essendon 12.12.84 to Richmond 19.9.123
Darcy Parish wins the Yiooken for best-on-ground. He deserved it but seems uncertain what to do. No doubt, he would rather his team had won and someone else had won the award.
I have to say I’m pleased with the win. I would really like to know how Tippa was kept so quiet. Whoever was responsible might be considered our matchwinner. As in most of our wins it’s hard to pick the very best players. The defenders have all done well, again – Grimes, Balta, Vlaustin, Houli, Short and Baker. And Broad has had yet another good game. Bolton and Dusty have done all right too, but I’m still cross with Dusty for that costly turnover. Prestia, before he was injured, did well. Cotch and Sheds too. I could name the whole team, again.
And I am very heartened by the heart of this side. How many times this season have they come back and won? Against Footscray, against the Giants, against Adelaide and now, after coughing up the lead in the last quarter, against the Bombers. I can’t see us coming from behind to beat the Eagles in Perth this Sunday though. We’ll just have to get in front and stay there.
I would like to ignore the odds that the parasites advertise everywhere but, as they advertise everywhere, this is impossible. The parasites – they call themselves bookmakers, as if their profession was literature – give the Giants little chance. What people forget is that these odds reflect where the money goes, not just the chances of the teams. And the fact is that this will be tough game for the Tigers. Rioli and Graham are the only two of our best seven midfielders who are un-injured while the Giants’ onballers are, apparently, in fine form.
And we just got thrashed at home by the Cats and the words “nightclub”, “brawl” and “Richmond” have been trending all week. And Dimma whingeing about playing at Docklands strikes me as petty and not worthy of a triple-premiership coach.
It strikes me as odd that with very little trouble I get two seats quite close to the front at the top deck without paying anything extra. But when we get into the ground just before the game starts I can see why this is so. This is a seriously anaemic-looking crowd. There are vast empty bays everywhere and none that are packed. There are a few hundred behind the goals at the Richmond end but big, empty spaces next to them.
Allowances must be made. It is a cold night, with a good chance of rain (however, we are playing under a closed roof). We have had a pandemic. We have lost one game in a row. It is almost seven months since we last won a flag. We have only 100 thousand members.Embed from Getty Images
Toby – our Toby – wins a free out of a ruck contest and goals after 11 minutes and a bit later Aarts soccers brilliantly on an angle and we lead with two goals to 1.3. But the Giants hit back with quick snaps from Kelly and Green without an “E”. They have moved the ball too easily through the middle and been very efficient in front of goal and I don’t like it.
At our end Lynch runs into an open goal from 40 out and kicks out on the full. Then Castagna marks on the 50 and kicks to Lynch who marks close in but on a tight angle. He kicks well though and it’s 3.0 to 3.3.
Naish is in the side again, deservedly so, and smothers twice in a few minutes. Toby Greene flies over Vlaustin for a mark but kicks out on the full. But half a minute later he marks 50m out on the opposite side and kicks the damn thing. Of Toby’s many faults, by far the worst is that he is a very talented footballer.
I think the Giants have outplayed us but we’re still in it. I think Nank has been our best player and Naish has also been good.
Quarter Time Score: Richmond 3.0 to Giants 4.3
At quarter time the spruiker makes me wish I was at home watching the telly, even though she gives us the chance to win $500.
Early in the second quarter Rioli marks right in front 45 metres out but his kick falls short and is rushed through for our first behind of the game. The Giants move it down their end on the express train and Hogan marks and goals from 30 out. We are looking out-gunned. From the centre-bounce the move is repeated almost exactly and we’re three goals down with the quarter only four minutes gone. They have another chance to hurt us but miss. We turn the ball over, Hogan marks again from close in and doesn’t miss and it’s 3.1 to 7.4. I write “falling apart” in my notebook and feel the faint comfort of putting words on paper. Hell is slightly easier to bear when you describe it.
But only slightly. We are being cleaned up by this Corporate Confection and we have barely any supporters here to get our boys going again. What has become of the world?Embed from Getty Images
Ralphsmith, in his first game, runs in and kicks a point. My friend Chris – Northcote Chris, not Taroona Chris – has texted me at the start to say he was best friends with Hugo Ralphsmith’s dad in Grade 2. That makes him family, pretty much.
It’s time for the young fellers to stand up and they do. Naish runs well down the ground, passes to Dusty who marks on an angle and goals. We’ve had a good five minutes by the standards of this game. Flynn misses at the other end and Dusty soccers a goal for us. It’s 5.2 to 7.5 and hope has returned only to be snuffed out again. Hogan marks, wins a 50 and goals. He and a team mate had minutes in which to work out which of the pair would go for the ball. Our defence keeps getting caught out. Within 30 seconds Hill has marked and goaled with ease and we’re 27 points down once more.Embed from Getty Images
Collier-Dawkins snaps for his first senior goal and his team-mates mob him. There must be hope if the young fellers can do this. At the main break we trail by 21 points which is gettable. There is music, but not too loud and the spruiker, of course. Nobody would come to the footy if the spruiker didn’t remind us how good it is.
There is no Auskick at the main break but instead a stupid competition where the spruiker patronises the little kids instead. This is followed by Are You Paying Attention? (Or Do You Have Your Own Life?) I wish I wasn’t here. I wish I could sit down with Peggy and Brendan and beg them to stop this crap.
We’ve played a bit better towards the end of that quarter but the Giants seem to move the ball too freely and their forwards have an easy time of it. Hogan kicked four goals in that quarter and none of them seemed to be hard. Nank has been good again but Lynch seems slow and lacking in confidence. I wonder if Riewoldt is injured? He seems to be no threat to the Giants’ defence.
Half-time score: Richmond 6.2.38 to Giants 9.5.59
In the third term hope will be lost only to be found again. Lynch has a good chance early on but misses. Hill misses at the other end, bless him. Lynch takes a great mark 20 out on a 45-degree angle and somehow manages to hit the post. The Giants rebound, of course, Toby Greene kicks to Lloyd who marks easily but also kicks a point. We’ve been lucky, we could be six goals down now. But also unlucky, if Lynch’s kicking can be described as bad luck.
Our defenders clear the ball well but it’s brought back for a Giants’ free kick from which a goal is kicked. We’re 28 points down and we need two goals to get back in it. But, as I keep telling myself, and as I’d tell the players if I coached them – we need ONE goal. We need the NEXT goal. That’s all.Embed from Getty Images
Dusty can hear my thoughts. He takes a handpass from Baker and goals. Oh, thank you Dusty and Baker. Lynch passes to Riewoldt who passes to Collier-Dawkins who kicks truly from 40 out. The Tiger Machine is rolling at last. Dusty handpasses to Aarts who kicks his second and we’re only nine points down and who said hope was lost? It was just fumbling for the right page in the Melways.
Suddenly we’re on top. Baker is everywhere in the middle. Collier-Dawkins is going well too, passes to Castagna who marks 40 out, right in front. His kick drops just when we don’t want it to but after a long score review the goal is given and there’s less than a kick in it. Hogan marks again at the other end but his kick falls well short and Nank marks it, of course. The game has changed and it’s ours for the taking now.
Three-quarter time score: Richmond 10.5.65 to Giants 10.8.68
Even with this tiny crowd the chanting of the Tiger Army at the last break could fill this ground. And why wouldn’t they make a noise with the Tigers roaring back from the dead? But there is no chance of this happening. Some lucky fool has a chance to “Race the Jeep” along the boundary fence and this must be conducted at such volume that any crowd noise is drowned out. I first noticed the Tiger Army chant being shat on in this way twenty years ago and it’s only gotten worse since.
For the millionth time I ask, what sort of a footy club would try to silence its own supporters?
Clearly, the absence of crowd noise fills the Corporate Confection with heart and they start the last quarter well. Toby Greene marks 50 out and his kick, which seems short and mis-directed is a cleverly-disguised pass which Hopper marks un-contested. He goals easily and we’re 10 points down. I tell myself there is still time and still hope but I feel both slipping away. The Giants go further ahead when Lloyd marks, again very easily, and goals from 40 out. The quarter is almost half over and we need three hard-to-get goals to win it. That’s if the Giants don’t get any more.
Lynch runs onto a loose ball, gathers and misses from well inside the 50. But not too long after that Riewoldt makes a strong contest as the ball this kicked in quickly, gathers, snaps and goals. I haven’t seen him move so smoothly all year. Things start to run our way again. The Giants miss and Dusty just gets his toe to the ball and crushes the goal umpire. After some delay a goal is given – his fourth – and we’re three points down with six minutes left.Embed from Getty Images
A Lynch snap and miss makes it two points. Broad – who is having another good game – gathers on the wing and sends a big kick into the 50. Riewoldt goes for it but can’t mark, sends a hopeful handpass into space, Rioli gathers and goals in a split second and we’re in front with 3.20 left on the clock.Embed from Getty Images
We have several chances to seal the win and the Giants can’t the get the ball forward of the centre. With a minute left Dusty snaps a point and we’re five points up. Another Richmond attack is thwarted but this time the Giants steam forward like a train on freshly-laid tracks. A long kick into their forward line is gathered safely by Vlaustin who kicks it back towards the wing. He can’t be said to aiming for the boundary but the ball takes a sharp break to the right and goes out of bounds. These days – unless you’re Melbourne playing in Adelaide – nearly everything is called deliberate and so is this. O’Halloran takes the ball and sends it goalward, Taranto gathers a few metres out on a sharp angle and tries to dribble it through for a goal but Grimes races in and rushes a behind. From where we sit, we can’t bear to watch and can’t believe, either, that it didn’t go through for a goal. We thought it was all over.
It’s not though. There are 22 seconds left and we have the footy and we don’t give it away and the siren goes and all 18 thousand of us belt out the song.Embed from Getty Images
This has been a win for the ages, a win so good that it makes the crowd seem even smaller than it is. We had twice as many to see Lloydy’s kick after the siren to beat the Swans in the dark days of 2016.
Final score 13.9.87 to 12.11.83
Best players for me were Dusty, Nank, Broad and Baker. Collier-Dawkins did well too.Embed from Getty Images
We don’t have a great record against the Dogs. We beat them last year which impressed me, but lost in 2017 and 2019. They are one of several teams whom we often struggle against, even when we are travelling a lot better than they are. Right now they are on six wins and on top of the ladder. We have won three and lost three and you could say that our season hangs in the balance. That might be a slight exaggeration, but you could still say it and plenty of pundits are.
I can’t get a ticket without paying a lot for an average seat and so I don’t go and I don’t feel bad about that. And with the children out doing their own thing it’s just my partner and me at home. She suggests In the Line of Duty and I think that sounds good. I’ll tape the footy and if we get smashed I won’t even have to watch it.
In any case, I get to see the first quarter before she gets home and it doesn’t look great. In fact, it looks a like our game against Melbourne – long stretches of fruitless Richmond dominance, good opportunities wasted, followed by bursts of counter-attack from the Dogs where they kick a goal. If it keeps going like this we’ll get “dashed” as my daughter once put it.
The Tigers begin well, winning the first clearance and getting the ball in quickly to Riewoldt who takes a good mark, turns and kicks it into Lynch who gets hands to it but can’t take the grab. Broad and others defend well against the fist Doggies attack and after three minutes Lynch marks Short’s thoughtful kick deep in the pocket. He kicks a good point on the near side.
Collier-Dawkins wins a free, his first kick in AFL, on the forward flank. He sends it in quite quickly but we can’t take a grab. Baker is already very busy on the forward line. Riewoldt flies but can’t hold it, Eastern-Wood has the ball forever and loses it in the tackle but there’s no free. The Dogs rebound and Scott snaps and goals from a tight angle. It’s 1.1 to our single point, after five minutes of Richmond domination.
Lynch marks 80m out and kicks it to a Bulldog. But he keeps trying, takes another very good mark and passes Collier-Dawkins 48m out. The young feller dishes off to Short who kicks long and misses. He should have let the young feller do that by himself.
Nankervis makes a huge tackle on Bailey Dale. No doubt about the Tigers’ intent, but can they bring their skill? Lynch marks and misses from 50 out on a 45 angle.
Balta kicks a bomb into Lynch who marks beautifully for the fifth time and misses from 25 metres.
Mitch Hannan misses a shot that’s almost as easy which must make Lynch feel better. Broad is playing very well again and clears the ball well from deep in the back line.Embed from Getty Images
Bruce marks strongly and goals and it’s 2.3 to 0.4. Naughton marks with nobody near him and the Dogs have three and we don’t have any. The Dogs’ handballs are lightning fast and for all our effort their rebounds are slick and damaging. Our defence is starting to crack too and Grimes’ clearing kick goes straight to Bruce who fires it back quickly. The moment is saved with good defending from Mansell or Collier-Dawkins, I can’t tell which, and a fairly blatant rushed behind from Grimes who gets away with it.
Lynch is having a terrible night. Well, not quite as bad as against Melbourne where he seemed to go missing, but he can’t hit the side of large house with the footy.Embed from Getty Images
But for all his woes he doesn’t give up. He marks Bolton’s kick on the edge of the goal-square and after a series of elaborate hand-signals that would have been visible from low-Earth orbit he dishes off a handball rather than take the set shot. Aarts receives it and is nearly taken down by two Doggie’s defenders. But he still kicks the goal and all is not lost.
Lynch has taken seven marks and kicked three points.
Quarter-time score: Richmond 1.4 to Bulldogs 3.6
At this time we begin watching In the Line of Duty and I feel good about the decision. Why inflict misery upon yourself? We watch three episodes and by the time I switch back to the footy the song is being sung and the smiling captain is being interviewed. Luckily, I have set the tape and I make it a late night by going back to the second quarter and watching through to the end.
The quarter starts badly when Bailey Smith takes a brave mark from McIntosh’s hurried kick and goals from 50. We are 20 points down. Riewoldt takes a soaring mark 60 out and kicks in quickly to Lynch who can’t mark. The Doggie’s clear it again. Toby takes a strong pack mark, on the half-back flank, kicks it to Shedda who kicks to Bolton who goes on a little run, gets around an opponent and fires in a perfect pass to Aarts 25 out who misses.
We’re not playing badly though. Balta takes a great intercept mark and we move the ball well upfield, Lynch kicks perfectly to Riewoldt whose kick is disappointing. Bolton is grabbed without the footy and seconds later doesn’t quite hold the mark of the year. There is quite a period of Tiger domination but no goals to show for it. Pickett has a good chance and misses. The Dogs rebound in seconds and Naughton marks and goals and we’re 25 points down.
Rioli handpasses to Lynch who misses and we’re 1.7 to 5.7. At least we’ve caught up on the behinds.
Lynch kicks another point. With a minute and a half left we finally kick a goal. Cotch takes a brave mark going back with the flight, he passes to Graham who scoops it up, runs in and kicks to the square. Bolton roves the crumb and bangs it through from two metres out and we can all breath again. It’s 2.8 to 5.8 – our second goal in almost a half of footy.
With 20 seconds left Bontempelli wins a free for falling over and misses from 20 out.Embed from Getty Images
Half-time score: Richmond 2.8 to Bulldogs 5.9
Balta thwarts another Dog attack. He is having a very good game, as is Baker who seems to be in everything. He goes for a beautiful run at half-forward and sends it to Riewoldt laces out who marks and goals from about 45. This move began with Bolton who found Baker with precision and vision.Embed from Getty Images
With about five minutes gone Treloar kicks high and not terribly long out of defence. McIntosh marks with courage and gives it to Baker who takes his time and kicks long, low and straight to Lynch who marks right in front, five metres out. Bakers’ poise and pass were perfect and Lynch goals at last and we’re right back in it. Who ever doubted that we could be? It’s 4.8 to 5.9.
Baker tackles Keath and brings him to earth but BT calls this as “Baker is run over by Keath.” In the words of Chris Rees, this man oozes misinformation. The fact that Keath is clearly taller and heavier than Baker might also be worthy of comment.
Graham roves the subsequent ball-up, snaps and goals and we’re only a point behind. The ball has scarcely been out of our forward line for five minutes.
Bolton kicks a point from long range and scores are level. Baker is tackling everyone, the bigger they are the harder he tackles. The Dogs go for 20 minutes without a possession forward of the centre. Houli wins a lucky free for high contact and kicks it long to Lynch who marks 25 out. He goes back and kicks it and we’re in front and Lynch’s kicking problems are behind him. It’s all happened very quickly and there are still 11 minutes left in the quarter.Embed from Getty Images
With six minutes left the inside-50s are 16 to zero for the quarter and we’re seven points up. Shortly after that the Dogs get forward which is disappointing but was bound to happen. Naughton marks and goals and we’re only a point in front.
With three and a half left Lynch marks and goals from 45 out on a 45 angle and he’s got three for the quarter.
The Doggies attack and very nearly goal but some desperate, and, by the commentators, completely un-remarked defence, turns it into a point. The little things that these well-paid footy watchers miss is astounding.
The siren sounds as Collier-Dawkins is running towards the 50 with the ball in his hands.
Three-quarter-time score: Richmond 7.10 to the Bulldogs 6.10
For about five minutes there are a few points but no goals and the Tigers hold onto their one-goal lead. The umpiring isn’t bad, but it does seem a bit lax. You know this is true when you start saying out loud “That should have been a Bulldogs free kick for high contact”. I find myself saying this quite a lot, but this is easier to say when the result is known.
After five and a half minutes Richmond find space on the wing, Ross sends a long bomb into the square, Baker pounces on the crumb and goals from five yards out and we’re two goals up. The kick from Ross was a sixty-metre monster, sent in quickly and bound to trouble the defence.Embed from Getty Images
Bontempelli marks on a tight angle after the ball seems to have gone out of bounds. He passes to Shache who goals from right in front and we’re back to a one-goal lead with 12 minutes left.
With the ball on our half-forward flank the Dogs look set to break away after a chain of quick handballs until Baker lays a huge tackle on Lapinksi and throws him out of bounds. Baker is one of the smallest players in the AFL, so unless he’s tackling Caleb Daniel, he’s always taking on someone bigger. This impresses me but the Seven commentators are unmoved.
Lipinski has a chance to level the scores, runs in and hits the post. Tigers by five points.
Richmond attack and Castagna passes to Houli who marks 45 out, takes a few breaths, walks in and goals from the 50 as the Dogs kindly had nobody on the goal-line. The ball went over the pack and bounced across. Thank you Doggies. It’s Houli’s first goal for two years.Embed from Getty Images
There are seven minutes left and we’re 11 points up.
With five minutes left Bolton nearly pulls down mark of the year, again, this time with one hand. From the boundary throw-in Lynch grabs the footy, handballs to Bolton who dances through traffic and goals and we’re 17 points up.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
The dogs have a chance to pull one back when Naughton marks on a strong lead but from 40 out he wins Worst Kick of the Past Ten Years Award and the Tigers clear the footy.
Cotch goes off and puts the trackie top on and Naish gets a run for the last few minutes. Going by their thick, dark hair this is what’s known as a “like-for-like” substitution. It’s a good sub too. Naish chases Hunter who has taken two bounces and is then tackled just as he gets a handball away. The tackle means the ball doesn’t go where it’s meant to and Richmond win the footy back. It goes to Naish who passes to Bolton who marks directly in front.
Naish is hugged by his team-mates for his never-give-up effort. Bolton goals and the game is over, we’re 22 points up with 90 seconds left.
Final Score: Richmond 11.11.77 to the Bulldogs 7.13.55
It’s been a huge second half. Our best players have been, well, the whole team really. But the standouts for me are Bolton, Balta, Broad and Baker, mainly for alliterative purposes. Also really good are Cotchin, Houli, Grimes, Graham, Astbury, Ross…it really was the whole team who lifted. As usual I forgot Toby. He was magnificent. And the fact that it is always very hard to pick our best few players is something I love dearly about our Tigers.Embed from Getty Images
Anzac Eve, 24 April 2021
I haven’t been to the footy since we flogged the Giants in the Grand Final in 2019. Mum was still alive then and we chatted on the phone in the long hours before the first bounce and she left me a voicemail at the end of the game saying she thought we’d played pretty well. She didn’t have her own team but liked her children’s teams to win. I still have that voicemail on my phone.
The build-up is good, the minute’s silence, the Last Post. The silence in particular is really good, we need more moments like that. As the solemnities end and the loud, crappy music fills the void I realise that I’ve forgotten to set the tape. So my notes will have to be good.
The loud music reminds me of something that I felt a lot of last year – relief. I didn’t have to think about going or not going to the footy. I didn’t have to endure this crap at the game I love. Still, there was a downside to the global pandemic and I mustn’t forget that.Embed from Getty Images
The game starts well for us. Melbourne’s first attack goes out on the full. Richmond rebound and Shedda kicks a point. Petracca tackles Dusty and pushes him out of bounds and wins a free. Then we get another point before Riewoldt soccers a brilliant goal. Toby wins a free for deliberate out of bounds and his kick manages to hit both goal posts but only one behind is registered. This seems unfair, although no doubt within the letter of the rules.
Riewoldt gets another and we’re looking all right. Cotchin sets up Graham for a likely goal but his kick falls short. Salem gets a point for the Dees, then they get another one and then a goal which is followed by an embarrassing light show, the whole stadium bathed in red and blue. Wow, I’m so impressed. This would make me come to the footy again. I feel in my bones that at the next RFC home game I go to I’ll have to suffer through the same thing, but worse, as it will be our club shaming itself in lights.
Shedda, who is playing well, bravely marks a clearing kick and goals from 30 out. But Melbourne are looking better and their Pickett kicks well to Fritsch who marks and goals. The light show again makes me long for lock-down. The quarter ends and the spruiker reminds us that we’re at the footy, tells us which teams are playing and what the score is. I’m so grateful to him. Contested possessions are 39 each.
Quarter time score: Melbourne 2.2 to Richmond 3.3Embed from Getty Images
Although we’ve paid $45 each to sit in the top deck of the Olympic Stands – not bad seats at all, really, but 20 rows from the front – the bays either side of the Richmond Cheer Squad at the City End are almost empty. I do not understand the AFL at all.
The scoreboard tells me that Short has had 8 touches and I’ve barely noticed him. That says more about me than him. But it’s a big ground with a big cast and it’s easy to miss things.
There is light rain at the break and we’re glad we’re under cover. The game restarts and Lambert misses with a set shot. Bolton seems to be very busy and our Pickett misses from 48. We are attacking a lot but can’t kick a goal. Short concedes a deliberate out-of-bounds from a good way out and Neale-Bullen kicks a very good goal. The quarter is half-gone and we lead by a point. Tom McDonald takes a strong mark and goals from 45 out on a tight angle and the Dees are in front.
Shedda misses from 40 after taking a mark and McDonald kicks another and the Dees are up by 11. They are using the ball better than us and their attacking moves are holding together while ours come unstuck. The Dees get another, making it five in a row and they lead by 17. Dusty has been very quiet and so are our supporters.
Half-time score: Melbourne 6.6.42 to Richmond 3.7.25
Early in the third Melbourne attack and an outnumbered Pickett almost pulls off a miraculous spoil. But he doesn’t and we’re 23 down. And then five goals down and I’m comparing us to Adelaide in the third quarter in the 2017 Grand Final. We just don’t know what to do. Nothing we try to do seems to work and Melbourne have the ball on a string.Embed from Getty Images
After 14 minutes Shedda kicks our first goal in about an hour of footy. Our last five minutes have been good. Our pressure has lifted and we could still do this. But we need another one or two before the last break.
Melbourne attack again. Pickett is again outnumbered and again nearly manages to pull off a great spoil but he gets Neal-Bullen high who goals from close range and we’re five goals down again. We respond well with one of our best moves of the night. Graham kicks into the 50, Toby handpasses to Aarts who goals.
But the Dees have all the answers and Tom McDonald marks almost on the goal line and it’s 30 points once more. They’ve matched our pressure and are killing us in execution. Well, of course they are.
Broad, who is playing well, kicks into the 50 and Shai takes a great mark and kicks a point from 30 out. It’s not our night.
Three-quarter time score: Melbourne 10.8 to Richmond 5.8Embed from Getty Images
I don’t think we can win from here but we could at least make it hard for them. My great wish is that the Dees don’t just walk away with it.
My wish is granted, more or less. We lose by 34 points, meaning the last quarter was close, at least. We kick 1.4 to 2.2 for the quarter. Petracca seals the win in the first minute putting us six goals down. People are talking about him being the next Dusty and tonight he is. Our Dusty has not been seen since the main break and we have to assume he is injured. But the scoreboard and our phones tell us nothing.
Aarts takes a good mark from Cotchin’s kick but misses from 25 metres. Broad and Baker continue to play well. Lynch kicks out on the full. He’s had a bad night, but he’s not alone. I’m beginning to worry that we’ll lose by a lot. Their Pickett kicks a point and we rebound and Lynch kicks a point. Finally Shai gets one after Lynch passes to him. We’re down 29 points and 13 minutes have gone. In the wet that is a mountain to climb.
Bolton takes another mark and kicks a point from 25 out on a tight angle. As seems to happen when we lose to Melbourne on Anzac Eve, there is an altercation on the Melbourne forward line which leads to a down-field free to their Pickett who goals from 25 out. The Dees supporters go nuts and there’s a second free, of course, before the ball is bounced. Luckily Oliver misses this one from 30 out.
I just want us to kick one goal so that we win the quarter but we don’t get it. Bolton has a chance but misses the lot. At last the siren goes and we’ve only lost by 34 points. And it’s only Melbourne, which doesn’t hurt half so much as losing to Collingwood and it’s only April, it’s not like a prelim final.
Final score: Melbourne 12.10.82 to Richmond 6.12.48Embed from Getty Images
Still, it hurts. We’re mortal after all. Dusty had been written up in The Age this very morning for his indestructability. He’s barely been injured in a dozen seasons. But he’s injured now all right.
Not time to panic though. We lost to Geelong by 12 goals in the middle of 2019 and looked like a non-finals team.
Best players for us had names starting with B – Baker, Broad, Bolton. Also Short might have played well but I kept not noticing him. Toby played well too, although from our high seats I may have mixed him up sometimes with Balta. Between them they played all right. Shedda too, he kept us in it for a good while.
Easy game against the Dogs this Friday night.
On Sunday night I drop my phone in the water while doing the dishes and listening to a podcast about the AIDS Angel of Arkansas.
After a third term when we seized the initiative and Geelong seized up, I watched the last huddle of the season with rapt impatience. We could probably win this without Riewoldt or Lynch but it would sure help if they joined in. Nank got things off to a flyer with a splendid 55 metre pass down Lynch’s throat; but nothing came of it. Then there was this handpass.
Toby is such an unassuming gun footballer. Matt Zurbo used to coach him and wrote this fantastic piece in the Almanac earlier in Grand Final week, inspired by his outstanding prelim final performance against Port.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
For one so young, Baker is a serious finals performer. He kicks a genius submarine pass to Riewoldt who’s in acres of space in forward 50, and via quick ungainly transfers it goes through Graham, George, and Lambert to Prestia running along the boundary, who goals from near the point post [Bruce credits it to Graham]. Really only the last pass was cultured and conventionally accurate. 52-44, we have six of the last seven goals.
Astbury is putting on a masterclass for any defenders with a daunting match-up. Hawkins looks like Micky Conlan would if he was scaled up to the height of John Ironmonger. But there’s something early-Richo-like about Hawkins’ lack of resilience in games. Miss a shot early and they are almost a liability. Now Astbury is rag-dolled out of the way but Hawkins drops the ball; and in there I am crediting Astbury with making it just hard enough for mentally-gone Hawkins to fail.Embed from Getty Images
Geelong are not putting anything together. Their isolation from each other is Crows-at-the-2017-anthem-like. Making a very rare inside 50, Gryan Miers gallops forward, chased by Houli at calf-tearing pace, and kicks while too far out with no mates there to catch it, so Broad does.
Shai flashes into the game with a mark, play on, and astonishing stop-start mosquito run that gives him space to bomb it to Lynch in the square. Tom is on the board, 59-44 and the margin really feels like more.
Soon Cotch is lining up for another one after taking possession and going looking for Harry Taylor’s elbow with his head in classic Selwood fashion. 45m out on a steep angle we know he is no chance but the comms are quite excited that he might be getting us one goal away from being uncatchable. He misses.
Shorty is having a hell of a game. Everything he does has a lightness to it. He is probably the model rebounding halfback in the game now. Look at this kick, the physics of it is beautiful.
Dusty is front and centre all on his own and kicks his third after barely shrugging to dislodge O’Connor’s tackle, and its 66-44. He stretches his jumper in celebration. Hard to see where a Cats goal will come from. Hard to remember how they got to a grand final. This quarter the umps are giving them nothing; we are getting all the line ball calls and getting away with murder at times. Eg Nank takes the ball out of the ruck, gets caught: another ball up.
Now the Cats go forward and Menegola marks bravely running with the ball but unfortunately poleaxing Sam Simpson. He’s out cold and there’s a 7-minute delay, while TV replays the incident in stomach-churning detail.Embed from Getty Images
The teams get into huddles, but the Cats break up quite quickly and seem to all be staring into their personal darknesses alone. Meanwhile the cameras catch the Tiges in 3s and 4s talking animatedly. That’s winning and losing I suppose. But there are nearly 8 minutes left on the clock and only 22 points in it.
After an eternity Sam Menegola kicks the goal professionally, and I was really happy for him that he did, in these circumstances.
As Simpson is placed on the cart the spidercam shows a few Tigers come over and wish him well.
Riewoldt kicks a point, then we have five minutes where we look wobbly. Not like we are going to lose, but not like a team that “can do no wrong”. We can do wrong.
Danger is trying to rally his side by staging, really flopping about looking for high contact. As noted above he is not the only player doing this.
Stewart has been Geelong’s best, and he is trying to rally his side by kicking very very long and accurately.
Baker has had a great game, now with amazing fingertip control he manages to slam ball on boot and hit Riewoldt lace out. Jack nails the shot from the boundary 48m out, and gets the crazy eyes in the celebration. 90 seconds to go.Embed from Getty Images
Now Martin kicks his 4th. The hapless Rhys Stanley fumbles again and again while running out towards Danger in the pocket. He finally gets away something like a handpass to Danger, but it’s plucked right off his hands by the sharking Martin, also running towards the boundary.Embed from Getty Images
He stops, shrugs off Dangerfield who is rotating around him like a naughty kid on a Hills Hoist; and just hooks it through for one of the all-time great poacher’s goals. 80-50.
There’s time for Riewoldt to clunk another one. His set shot is always missing as Brian intones “Riewoldt is on target…”. BT’s dedication to being clearly wrong has been a real 4-quarter effort.
By now Richmond staff are massing on the boundary. Unlike the sight of happy players, even very happy players, seeing happy coaches hugging and high-fiving is very rare. For Richmond people to have been able to enjoy that sight twice more after the delirious breakthrough of 2017, is really special.
Richmond 2.1(13) 3.2(20) 7.4(46) 12.9(81)
Geelong 2.2(14) 5.5(35) 6.8(42) 7.8.(50)
It’s taken me ages to write up this game, so first apologies for that. In 2017 I designed a bumper sticker as part of my celebrations of the win. In 2019 and 2020 I had to follow up with new ones, and both times it really got in the way of me celebrating the win; having this job to do with people waiting. Knowing that we are certainly still in the mix to win more premierships, I’m going to announce now that that’s the end of my premiership merch career. The 17, 19 and 20 items will stay on sale for anyone who wants one; but I think there are plenty of other people doing wonderful designs and I will leave it to them to cover our 2021
three-peat hat trick and our subsequent flags.
5: Dustin Martin – Australian Rules’ greatest ever big game player. His first three goals were each desperately needed footholds as we clung onto the mountain; his fourth was just the perfect celebration of our total mastery of Geelong. Dusty has again taken out the Benny with 41 votes.
4: Jayden Short – had 25 touches including 18 exquisite kicks, made 7 inside 50s and laid 6 tackles.
3: Shane Edwards – 27 touches, covered every blade of grass, a quiet leader
2: Toby Nankervis – followed up last week with another complete ruck performance, 6 tackles.
1: Shai Bolton – just a highlight package isn’t he? Had some glorious moments, 7 tackles. And he is runner-up in the 2020 Benny.
18: Grimes, Vlastuin, Graham
13: Lambert, Edwards
10: Riewoldt, Baker
9: McIntosh, Prestia
7: Pickett, Nankervis
6: Soldo, Lynch
5: Higgins, Eggmolesse-Smith, Chol
1: Castagna, Astbury
Maurice Rioli Grip of Death Trophy for Tackles
This year won by Jack Graham with 72
For a regular night game, half time is a bit of toast, maybe bring in a couple of logs for the fire, and possibly switch from beer to coffee. We did the kick-to-kick in the early evening pre-game, so instead we had the saveloys that we didn’t really want, because dinner was only an hour ago. The TV tells us that Danger’s gone to full forward and Dusty to half forward. We resume down 20-35, having been “flogged with a warm lettuce” in the 2nd quarter by a dominant but inaccurate Geelong.
The first minutes after the restart were all down our end. It was a perfect start, with the same move-it-on attitude we showed at the beginning of the game. Prestia just swinging a boot at a loose ball a couple of times, it came to O’Connor who is ragdolled in massive tackle from Pickett who can’t believe its play on. Sheds stood in a tackle and got it to Cotch who was 97% gone when he got a knuckle on it to Graham; Graham swept it out wide to Dusty and his first kick of the half was perfection. Jack had position, Henderson got over his shoulder and conceded a free that Jack iced with no fuss. 26-35.Embed from Getty Images
Next Dusty placed another kick into 50 perfectly and this time Graham was caught high by Blicavs. His shot at goal is utter pants, but that’s 11 inside 50s in a row to the reigning premiers and hope is starting to put in an appearance. Immediately Kolodjashnij clearing out of defence kicks it straight to Lambert, who squares it to Jason “0.5” Castagna.Embed from Getty Images
Even before his shot there was a real sense of Richmond now being in the driver’s seat of the ute and Geelong just running alongside in cheap thongs trying to get close enough to jump into the tray. Castagna’s kick is very strange and the three Geelong players on the line all fail to stop it. 32-35.
Miers gets on the end of a very sharp handball chain orchestrated by the man @AFLItalia (probably) calls Il Piccolo Maestro. He goals to recover a tiny bit of personal respect and stop the rampant Tiger roll. 32 – 41.Embed from Getty Images
Geelong now slowed the game right down. After a few minutes of this Brian said “Geelong… taking a little bit of milk out of… the Tigers”. Halfway through he wanted to back out of it, but couldn’t work out how.
An insane series of events led to a Lambert goal. A beautiful Short kick was fumbled by Sheds as he was 15m out right in front. George chased the loose ball and was held without it, no free. Bews tried to “play out from the back” Manchester City-style and his short kick was thrillingly marked on the boundary by Shai Bolton who came from nowhere over Menegola. Shai bounced up and kicked dangerously to Lambert on a better angle, but it came off. After taking the slips catch, Kane converted nervelessly. 39-42Embed from Getty Images
Tuohy kicking out of defence was pushed off-balance by Dusty, and the ball landed amongst Tigers. It came back via a long Short kick and Dusty beat Tuohy to the high loose ball, then just turned and paffed it through on the bounce off the outside of his right boot from 30 metres out. 2 goals to Dusty, Tigers in front in the 2020 Grand Final, and Dusty loves it. 45-42.Embed from Getty Images
This was a great moment; a surgically precise intervention by Jack’s toes between Selwood’s hand and boot.
Lynch finally gets a clean touch – to be fair on watching the replay he has been using his body, scrabbling defensively, he’s been working hard. Guthrie took a screamer over Nank. Il Piccolo Maestro hits Hawkins with a great kick; but Hawkins rushes his shot and misses. Geelong are still trying to clamber onto the ute but they’ve just lost one thong. In one minute Pickett outplayed Danger, and Grimes outplayed Ablett, who by now was carrying on like the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
A Dusty Martin blast kick into acres of space bounced awkwardly and Blicavs approached it like a bomb disposal novice.
Together Blicavs and Henry cocked it up under pressure exerted by Rioli and Graham.
Geelong were playing scared. The ball came via Lambert to Sheds, who ran towards an open goal and kicked a point – unmarked Jack Riewoldt took it pretty well considering. 46-44.
The last action of the term saw Geelong streaming in numbers towards goal as last man Grimes made a crucial save.
SO crucial. A Geelong goal following Sheds’ miss could have flipped the momentum back the other way. As it was, we came to the huddle leading 46-44, having kicked four goals to one in the quarter, and with many familiar signs of the brittle Geelong we’ve come to know and love.Embed from Getty Images
As the broadcast resumes, we are looking at the end Geelong was attacking in the previous quarter. “That’s the Geelong forward end… … … in fact the Richmond forward end”. Thanks BT. We’d seen Richmond running towards it so probably no need to say anything eh?
Dave Astbury flaps at the ball like an outwitted goalkeeper and Ablett gets away, only to be run down by Pickett. Marlion Pickett is in everything tonight.
Rohan stops Prestia and gets a HTB free. Dangerfield is isolated on Cotchin and as Rohan’s kick comes in Cotch gives away scragging free. Dangerfield kicks the goal. 13 – 20. Geelong pressure is up and we have not come out with a good plan B. Ablett gives Dangerfield the rare one-handed high five.
Next bounce Pickett nearly cleans up Graham then seconds later Simpson’s perfect kick for Hawkins is ruined (bravely) by Dalhaus. Duncan is really generating heaps for Geelong. We’ve had some luck with the umpires eg Nank marks a touched ball right in front of Geelong’s goal and essentially rolls in a ball like a slater.Embed from Getty Images
Shane Edwards creates a scoring opportunity. His wide kick out of the backline sets up for Shai to beat Blicavs in a sprint, then it goes via Kam, then Prestia, Dusty (all under kilopascals of pressure), back to Edwards but his final kick is just too deep for Jack and Tom Lynch.
Astbury is getting clearly beaten while Grimes is just anonymous – he and Rohan are mostly cancelling each other out. Dangerfield has another shot (after a mark that was actually touched by Broad) but he hits it all wrong.
Stewart attacks a ball on the edge of Geelong’s 50 and kicks it high for Rohan. Grimes runs him under it. Pickett and Broad tidy up but Broad under pressure hooks the ball back into danger territory, where it falls in the lap of stationary Gryan Miers. Gryan Miers ignores traffic cop Gary Rohan, decides to play on and kicks a behind from 20 out on a 45° angle. He tucks his ridiculous dreads behind his ears.
Embed from Getty Images
We are under a lot of duress now but the Cats are failing to turn the screw when the opportunity is there. Fragile. Harry Taylor gets a push, adds some mayo to it and dives into the legs of Graham who knees him in the head for his trouble. Tuohy kicks another point. After 8 minutes of complete domination their lead is only 9 points. Rioli is trying to get into the game with some 2nd-in tough-guy efforts. Dahlhaus sets up a high kick to the square to be punched through for another behind, 13-23.
Pickett makes a great tackle on Bews but then plays on from the free and handpasses it straight back to him. He is a big part of keeping us in this game but his mistakes are always made on centre stage.
Balta in the back pocket kicks with his scything style straight to Selwood. He slows play down, but still picks out Miers who was unmarked for ages. Miers gets Menegola, who finally kicks them another major. 13-29. It’s technically their 4th in a row but they actually have zero momentum.
Great little pass from Ablett to Selwood who pumps it down to Hawkins. Tom kicks the goal and now there’s some momentum. 13-35. “They’re going to be hard to catch” says Bruce. I’m worrying not so much about the margin but now Hawkins is up, and we are very flat, making unforced errors and letting loose men drift away. For the first time I can visualise us losing this.Embed from Getty Images
We move it slowly after a series of bounces. A hope kick comes out of Geelong’s defence to Short, who bangs it back in and finds Shai. His set shot misses, he got too close to the mark. Balta marks the kickout, but his kick is too cute and gives Kam no chance.
Henry kicks OOF on the other side. Baker takes the kick and goes deep to the big pack. Lynch and Riewoldt have been absent from the screen all night. Now Lynch rises above the pack and smacks the sherrin into the arms of Dusty for his first touch of the term. He runs across the goalface while holding Kolodjashnij at bay and hooks the ball through the middle, giving us a lifeline for half time. 20-35.
With 55 secs left there’s another throw-in in our forward pocket. Blicavs collects the tap and is caught in a vice by a re-awakened Dusty, who flips it out of his hands. That’s probably not a free. Dusty lines up, gets some advice from Riewoldt which he ignores, and kicks the worst banana you’ll see. In lawn bowls you’d call it wrong bias.
The siren goes as we are hunting hard another goal. Geelong’s brief spell of momentum is dead. A half of wonderful intense and skilful footy has set the stage for the main event – some rich kids with colourful hair playing derivative rock n roll. We mute the TV and go to work on the saveloys.