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