The best thing about tonight is how good our seats are. Level four but just nine rows from the front on the flank at the Punt Road End. When I first tried to get tickets – on-line, of course – I was offered “best available” in some god-forsaken row right at the back. I tried again and got these and was grateful. But given how small the crowd is I think that the random nature of the ticketing process has put a lot of people off. There is a very strong Geelong contingent in a crowd of just over 50 thousand. That means that fewer than half of our 100 thousand strong army has turned up on this fine and mild night, a week after our best home-and-away win in years. And we’re playing the closest thing we have to a Victorian rival whom we beat in last year’s Grand Final. I say these things as if we need to be reminded of them which perhaps some of our supporters do.
It doesn’t matter as we play extremely well anyway, kicking to the City End so that we’ll come home to the Punt Road End which is always good. Shai, who rehearsed Mark of the Year several times against Footscray, without actually nailing it, this time nails it in the goal-square. Fifty thousand people gasp and gasp again at the replay. Shai goes back and kicks the goal, which, if I know my History of Great Grabs, is unusual. Typically, all the genius is used up in the mark and the kick disappoints.
We are three goals up at the first break and I am confident that we are setting up a comfortable six-to-eight goal win. We lead 4.3 to 1.3.
The second quarter goes less well but we still lead by a goal – 7.7 to 6.4. In the third term we will surely get into our stride again and put these Cats in their place.
It all goes horribly wrong, of course. Geelong have three big forwards who all have their kicking boots on. Hawkins, Cameron and Rohan mark and goal from a good way out and on difficult angles. They crumb and goal too showing they can read the play pretty well. Our defence can’t cope and our depleted midfield can’t help. On our odd foray forward Lynch and Riewoldt seem to disappear. I’m sure they’re still out there and trying hard and everything, but I can’t see them.
Three quarter time score: Richmond 8.9 to Geelong 14.8
In a quarter of footy we’ve added a goal and two points against 8.4. We are 33 points down. We could still win but it’s unlikely. I’m hoping we don’t lose by too much. I’m hoping we come back enough to at least make Geelong nervous. But there’s no such luck. The last term is as bad as the third and we go down by ten goals.
It’s a miserable night. At least we can say we were there for Shai’s Great Grab. And with the way the Tigers have travelled in recent years there’s an exquisite kind of pain in being there at a loss. When we win the flag, again, I can say, well, I was there the night the Cats tore us to shreds and everyone wrote us off.
Final score: Richmond 9.9.63 to Geelong 19.12.126
I think Shai is our best player but he has few mates. I’m sure Dusty is injured as he’s had little impact. Ever-reliable players like Vlaustin and Houli have had quite average games. On the other hand, I do think we’ve kept trying to the end, even when nothing worked.