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I slept badly on Tuesday night. I was awake at 2.30 and the troubles of the world kept me awake thereafter. I saved the night by getting up at four and writing the last match report. But I felt the lack of sleep after that.
But the next day would be a holiday and that makes everything easier. I got more done at work than I expected to and left in good spirits. My brother, who is a Demons supporter, was going to get there early to save us seats. And my daughter and I would meet outside Jolimont Station.
Even on the five pm train from Eltham I wasn’t the only one going to the footy. Many had had my brother’s idea and were going to get there early to save seats for their mates.
By a bit after six we were all seated in row Y in the Olympic Stand, facing the Punt Road pocket from the MCC members side. I think we were in a similar, but closer, position when we beat the unstoppable Hawthorn in 2015.
I have to say that I’m not the biggest supporter of ANZAC Day, for reasons I won’t go into here. Yet the solemnities are always moving and it’s beautiful to hear a large crowd being silent, with only the gulls’ keening to be heard. And then the silence breaking into a roar before the first bounce, just like the old days. I don’t mind that at all.
I had hoped to re-watch this match on the telly but as we’ve just moved things aren’t hooked up as they need to be and I have to rely now on my week-old memory of the game. This will test me.
Riewoldt lost the toss, proving that Shedda should have kept his job. Richmond kicked to the Punt Road End in the first, meaning they were going the other way in the last. But this is no bad omen now – we kicked the same way against the Cats in the Qualifying Final in ’17 and in the GF against the Crows.
Melbourne scored the first two or three goals, the very first a clever, long-range snap from a pack by Lockart, I think. Then Richmond got back into it. Riewoldt and Ellis, I think, got us back into it. Then, when all the attention was on Riewoldt in a marking contest the ball dropped into the arms of Lynch waiting at the back. This is why you have two big forwards. Quarter time scores: Melbourne 4.1.25 to Richmond 3.1.19
The second was better for Richmond. A long kick dropped in the square and Dusty got it and goaled with no space to work in. From the other end of the ground, where we were, it looked like he’d done the impossible, but it often does. It was one of only two goals kicked in that term. Half-time scores: Richmond 5.4.34 to Melbourne 4.2.26
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The first quarter had been quite a goal-fest, proving that the AFL’s 6-6-6 rule is working like a charm. The rest of the game was more of a drought, proving that it isn’t. It did look in the third term that both teams were out on their feet after the four-day break. In the second quarter, I think, there was a passage of play involving four or five turnovers in a row on the Melbourne forward line. It would have been hilarious except that the scores were close at the time and the usually very-reliable Prestia coughed up the ball last, giving it straight to a Demon who marked and goaled.
In the third term Stack took a huge mark on the forward flank. It was on the far side of the ground from us and I was watching the big screen at the time. Later, much closer to us, he hit Viney with a perfectly-legal shoulder charge, the ball spilled loose, Richmond gathered and went into attack. Not so many years ago Scotty Turner could knock Essendon players unconscious and I would cheer him on. On this night Stack won the ball and put Viney out of the game and made me wonder if even shoulder-to-shoulder charges should be outlawed too. Still, while we still have the bump, you won’t see a better one than this.
Richmond seemed to do more of the attacking in the third term but Gawn was parked in our forward line and seemed to stop everything. We were in front but I still believed, despite some evidence to the contrary, that inside the dispirited Melbourne team lurked a bunch of highly talented players who were about to explode with a quarter of footy that would leave us floundering in their wake. At the last break I wished we were further in front. Three quarter time scores: Richmond 7.9.51 to Melbourne 5.5.35
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In the last we put the game to bed in a very satisfying manner. We sang the song, but only once, as is the custom now. Then there’s a live interview before we can sing it again. We left during the live interview.
It had been a good win. My brother was very downhearted. Going to the footy with people who barrack for the other team always seems like a good idea the time. At the end of the game though, conversation becomes awkward. I try to say nice things about the Melbourne players but I know it sounds patronising. I try to restrain my joy at Richmond’s win but that feels wrong too. Final scores: Richmond 12.13.85 to Melbourne 6.6.42
It’s always good to beat Melbourne and in some ways, even better to do so when they are not travelling well. The Demons were one of those teams we never beat when we should have. Again and again, in the Wallace and early-Dimma eras, they would derail our season just as it was getting started. But the new Richmond win even when they’re expect to win and this is very satisfying.
The draw has helped us thus far. We played Sydney and Melbourne when they’ve been struggling and we’ve got the Dogs on Saturday who also are not travelling well. On the other hand we’re now coming off a 10-day break and that can be dangerous. I’ll miss this game as I’ll be visiting my Mum in Wodonga. I’m relieved as I really hate going to Docklands, it’s a little bit worse each time.
Benny Votes [based this week on The Age and Coach’s votes]
I thought it was a good, even performance. Our new players continue to shine. Stack looks very good and Baker is good and quick too. However, from row Y I missed much of the detail of the game and often couldn’t read the players’ numbers.
Vlaustin (5) has been having a good year and the Age gave him best-on-ground which may have been right. Ellis (4) had his best game for a while, I thought, and snuck forward and kicked badly-needed goals. Houli (3) had another good game. The Age also gave votes to Prestia (2), Lambert(1) and Riewoldt. I won’t argue with those with better seats than mine.
Grimes, Lynch 12
Martin, Stack 6
Ellis, Prestia 4
Cotchin, Broad, Lambert, Houli 3
Ross, Nankervis 2
Blair Hartley Appreciation Award:for players who have joined Richmond from another club
(Eligible 2018: Caddy, Grigg, Houli, Lynch, Nankervis, Prestia, Townsend and Weller)
Anthony Banik Best First Year Player:for anyone who was yet to debut before round 1
(Eligible 2019: Balta, Coleman-Jones, Collier-Dawkins, Miller, Naish, Ross, Turner, Stack)
Joel Bowden’s Golden Left Boot:for left footers
(Eligible 2019: Chol, Grigg, Nankervis and Houli)
Greg Tivendale Rookie List Medal:
upgraded from the rookie list during the current season
Maurice Rioli Grip of Death Trophy:
For the Tiges top tackler in 2019
Nankervis, McIntosh, Castagna 22
Graham, Lambert 21