Artist Kate Birrell, a Richmond fan, sent two watercolour sketches of the night. Fluid interpretations of a game: the grass, goalposts, the cheer squad, the shape of an arena, the players. She added a photograph of her and her son outside the ground in the first quarter (“the ticketek queue!”).
All week, there was heart-warming correspondence. Tiger Tommo emailed from Africa (“the drums have been beating… and people say there are no Tigers in Kenya, only lions”). Boris Kilpatrick from Adelaide, Luke McNiece from Perth, Jess (I’m guessing from Hobart); and an old school friend, Steve M (a Bulldogs fan), from next door to AFL HQ. “Already making its way around the Tiger community at NAB,” he replied, of the return of TTBB.
Good to hear.
Bernadette Ashcroft logged a comment on the website, as did Belinda, and Swish, the upstanding Croweater that he is. “I don’t follow your mob,” he wrote. “But I love coming to this site.”
Football, it’s our common language.
Then this from Rod Thiel: “It’s like I’ve found the missing ingredient to satay sauce,” he wrote. “Great to have you back mate.”
Good to be back, Rod, and even better to have the footy back. Life has returned to normal. Easefulness settles on the city. Friday nights are as they should be.
Wednesday night, at the cheer squad banner-making, I held a microphone and asked questions to Yogi and Trout and Vince and David Ward. Lot of banners woven among that quartet. Lot of games seen. Upstanding servants of the club.
Then I took a photo of Trout’s car parked outside Punt Road Oval, and sent it as a Tweet.
Rest easy Tiger peeps. Trout is at banner-making. Carlton don’t stand a chance.
Thursday night, 7.25pm, the aeroplane lands in Sydney. Been a death in the family. There’s grieving, a gap that cannot be filled. My partner, our two young boys, are happy to be here. Mr Six-year-old knows he can stay up and watch the first quarter. He won the Easter egg hamper at his school raffle (thankfully, gave most of them away). The last day of term. Triple happiness.
It feels right to be watching this game from afar.
Housekeeping: if there are any WA-based Richmond fans travelling to Melbourne and would like me to write a fan profile on them for the club’s website, please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org These interviews need to be done face-to-face for them to work.
Watched a delayed broadcast of the game. Then watched it all again with Mr Six-year-old on Saturday afternoon, with pen and paper.
“Dad, what are you writing?
“Notes, sweetie, notes.”
Kane Lambert is a livewire, all hustle, nothing flash or flamboyant; workmanlike. Reminds me of Nathan Foley. High energy. Love the way he gets back behind his mark quickly, looking to open up as many options for himself. He’s always looking to make something happen. Reckon Dimma – like so many of us fans – admire these footballers who have travelled a longer road to reach the big league. With adversity comes fortitude; nothing is taken for granted.
Big Griff in headgear. Nick Vlastuin looks good with No. 1 on his back, looks meant to be.
A highlight of the night, watching Dan Rioli, Jacob Townsend, Corey Ellis, Connor Menadue and Lambert. All contributed. Young players on centre stage – opening night, a big crowd, nowhere to hide – and none are overawed. A night like this = about 10 games of experience.
Freeze-frame the screen and watch where Menadue makes his run from for our first goal. He’s run at least half the length of the MCG to get on the end of Griff’s kick. “He made a long run from the middle of the ground to get that,” says Richo, never one to waste words.
David Astbury was solid (although big Levi did slip him a few times). Looked composed. Good intercept marks. Make a deal with myself: if he plays 10 consecutive games at the start of this season, if he can stay uninjured and keep his form, I’m finally making that long-promised trip to Tatyoon to write a story about his hometown (it’s not actually a town, looking at Google Maps, more like a windblown farming community). David, such an old-fashioned name. Always good to have a Dave in your team, playing down back.
Dylan Grimes, very good, as were Nick Vlastuin and, of course, our man Rance.
More notes on Lambert: his tackles are bear-hugs, he curls up into his opponent, smothers him, makes him bear his weight. Short steps, but no half-steps.
Townsend was superb in his Richmond debut. Excellent at picking up the ball below his knees. He bends his back, stoops to conquer. When he runs he looks like Dan Jackson. Every team loves an inside bloodnut (Lingy, anyone?). Jacob looks the goods.
Sam Lloyd. Some comments on social media about how he only performed in the last quarter. Not true. He made little contributions all night. It’s just the game wasn’t being played on his terms, early. But what of his tackle on Marc Murphy in the first quarter? Inspiring. Lloyd hadn’t been in the game so he made something happen. He charged off the square at a centre bounce, and crunched their captain in a fair tackle. He got himself involved, lifted all around.
Carlton were very good on Thursday night, but we were just a bit better. That’s all you need to be.
A TTBB ultimatum this season: no criticism of the players for performance, skill errors. The only exception, acts of selfishness. Football, it’s a team game. All in the crowd play their part, as we expect those on the field to do.
So unfortunately Dan Rioli, on debut, gets a rebuke. When Jack has the opportunity for an unimpeded shot at goal from a blunt angle, always let him take the kick.
A football game is a series of acts, swings in momentum, and this error (selfishness or inexperience or exuberance) cost us. Dan took the advantage and missed his shot. Carlton kicks four consecutive goals and took the lead, gaining the ascendancy.
Football is also a confidence game. We let them get their confidence. Corey Ellis’s snap goal late in the third was very important.
Early in the last, I thought we’d blown it. Then up steps Jack and Sam Lloyd, and the crowd are on their feet, roaring for us, and we squeak over the line.
Friday night, Collingwood, licking their wounds, rattled, unsure of themselves. Don’t give them a sniff, Tigers. Jump them, and keep running away with the game. Compound their misery. Then after the final siren, all respectfully shake Adam Treloar’s hand without saying a word. Keep an air of dignity.
Every league footballer has ego, each need be acknowledged. The greatest insult is always a deafening silence, a void for him to think about words he has thrown about.
Cannot be there on Friday night. Babysitting duties. Zora Simic is in town, the missus going out. Two academics, a bar, and their night might go anywhere.
But I know where I’ll be. Glued to the television, with my heart at the G, barracking for our boys.
Come on Richmond, make us proud, make our spirits sing.
Tiger tiger burning bright
Facebook: Dugald Jellie