Richmond are still staring down the barrel. This season has been less than mediocre. Richmond is entering a tough run of opponents and the problem is that they haven’t been able to beat the supposedly more beatable teams: Melbourne, Western Bulldogs and the declining Cats. RFCRamble is excited about the inclusion of Liam McBean. Menadue isn’t making his debut. Newman is out and Astbury has been omitted. Griffiths too is out due to concussion. Will Ty Vickery stand up with this latest opportunity? Todd Elton and Ellis are back in the team. I do not expect Richmond to win. What I am dreading is that they lose by a point, after a goal kicked by Cloke after the siren. I am dreading the team loses by less than 10 points; I feel that will give too much ammunition to the coach to say that the team is improving. The time for improvement is just about up, no? It is time to win only. This season has been six years in the making.
After about 10 minutes I noticed that there was no Shane Edwards. Perhaps he had been on the bench. The Pies were having the game gifted to them thanks to creative moves such as putting Rance in the centre and leaving the backline to be lead by the master trio of Chaplin, Elton, Grimes and Batchelor. Perhaps Rance is being given a diversity of roles in order to convince him to stay at Tigerland. Richmond’s only goal bordered on the lucky; Collingwood very poor not to have kicked two more goals. Too often Collingwood players were without markers going into the forward line. At one great moment Cloke marked in front of Batchelor. Leigh Matthews, who bores me to tears, made the comment, “sometimes you outsmart yourself as a coach”. Liam took a neat mark but sprayed the kick. Cotchin had kicked the ball in boad and Riewoldt had passed it to him. A rare moment of Richmond players knowing what to do. Only 20 points down flatters the Tiges. I was watching on tenterhooks; tears welling. Tears not of losing but because this is a team that has had the lifeblood run dry from them. All bluster and no substance. The Upside: only 20points down. The Downside: Getting smashed. A random defence. Dimma says, “if you give a side like Collingwood a four goal headstart, you’re going to be paddling up the mountain for the rest of the afternoon.”
The Tigers kicked a few goals in the first few minutes: something shocking. The crowd roared in favour of their team. The forwards kicked goals rather than points. It was beautiful. Collingwood came back and took an 8 point lead. I felt it was all over when Elliot kicked that goal to steady the Pies’ ship. But, somehow, the Tiges got themselves together and played full of energy again. I watched and controlled my excitement. Being behind a computer screen makes getting excited a rather redundant activity. Oh the noise of the crowd. Beautiful kicks from Jack and Ty. Leigh Matthews: “McBean is still on Cloke”. And none of the other commentators corrected him; presumably out of fear or also not knowing the difference between Bean McLiam and Elton Todd. I can’t stand it anymore: Vlastuin doesn’t rhyme with ‘stone’. The ‘ui’ in Dutch pronunciation is more like an ‘ow’ sound. My Dutch is shabby, but, that is one thing I sort of know. I know the wrong sound, but, can’t make the right sound. It’s difficult. I didn’t think I’d see an eight goal quarter against Collingwood in my lifetime. Last time it happened was 1995, apparently. The Upside: maybe this will prove to the team they can actually play. The Downside: Still another hour in which to mess this one up. Dimma says: “on our best day we can beat anyone. Including ourselves. And by ‘beat’, I mean, be leading at half-time.” By the way, I liked the way Grimes played in that quarter; he won the ball and was awarded some free-kicks. Nice.
“Some funny things happened at the footy today: I saw Richmond lead a game by 25points.” Ah, beautiful, The Tigers of Old. “I saw Corey Ellis get shoved in the back and no free kick.” “Stop whinging.” Deledio is back and getting the ball but his kicks are going awry. Grigg is playing well and has kicked some nice goals. Cotchin’s left foot snap goal, good enough to make him captain. And Bachar is injured going into three quarter time. This is a problem. We need him healthy. Cotch yelled at Batch for not punching in a making contest with Swan, who, heavy with tattoos kicked a goal and gestured triumphantly. Lethal Matthews made another error, this time pointing out that Collingwood had got Crisps in the deal for Dayne Swan going to Brisbane. Again, no correction. This man is always right; he casts the jedi mind trick over his co-commentators. What the heck? The Tiges are down only by 1point at three quarter time. Nice of that Collingwood player to kick the ball out on the full to keep us in it. The Upside: Hello, it seems the Tiges can play football. The Downside: It is not being better and improvement that counts, what counts is being better than the opposition. May well lose this one. Dimma says: “I was proud of the way the boys stuck it out today. Injuries cruelled us, with Edwards going down before the game. Griffiths not having recovered from his concussion. And, we even had a couple of players not doing very much. You can only make so many subs. I think we were brilliant.”
It turns out Cotchin is a much better player when kicking the ball forward. Nice. Straight kicking by Vickery; nice. A couple of goals from the Deledio pocket by Deledio himself. Nice. A pity Ellis’s kick hit the post, that would have been a great sealer. Wonderful to see the Richmond faithful up and about and out of their seats and jumping up. This was a game that a neutral would have enjoyed, methinks. A relief. Some hard tackling by the boys. Nice. Varcoe probably thought he would never see the day of losing to the Tiges. I watched that last quarter in a state of numbness; but a pleasurable kind of numbness. Not the usual Tiger-numberness of 2015. A pity about McBeam having a fizzer and Elton not doing much. C.Ellis didn’t do too much too and Menadue could have kicked a goal but didn’t. They might not hold their places, but, I hope they had fun. They would have seen what it takes to get the job done. The Upside: Let us hope that this is the beginning of the season proper. The Downside: why did it take so long to play like this? Dimma says: “we won it because we played well for that 10 minute burst in the second quarter. After that, the game was as good as done and dusted.”
Richmond plays on the last game of the weekend giving us ample time to enjoy this weekend’s win. Port lost, so, they’ll be angry next week. We’ll hear talk about how well the team travels and likes to get away together. The game could have easily gone the other way, were it not for errant kicking on the Magpie behalf. I’m going to follow Damien Hardwick’s lead and not ride the emotional roller coaster. Dimma, I promise you, I’m going to be thoroughly depressed, win lose or draw. 🙂