1980 A Personal Footy Almanac – Round 20, Saturday 16 August, v Melbourne, MCG

It’s three-quarter time and the seats around us are emptying rapidly.

No, the game isn’t all over. Indeed, lowly Melbourne is only 4 goals down in a high-scoring affair and with Steven Smith causing our defence all sorts of problems, it doesn’t look like they’re going to lie down easily in the final stanza.

No, this isn’t a dash for the early train home, it’s a migration of the faithful. Like a flock of seabirds wintering in warmer climes, the Richmond diehards have left their stronghold at the Punt Road end of the Southern Stand and have made their way to the opposite end of the ground, filling the usually empty concrete expanse that was the bottom deck of the old Western Stand.

Michael Roach has six for the day. He needs three last quarter goals for his century and he’s kicking down to the scoreboard end!

Some of us stay put. We aren’t convinced he’s going to make it today, and besides, you don’t get a front row view of the game too often.

The game’s been a muted affair to now. Richmond went a lazy goal-for-goal with the Demons in the first half, but broke out of its slumber in the third, with eight goals to four. Surely the last quarter will be all about feeding it to “Disco”.

It seems to be the only thing on the players’ minds but for 15 minutes, it looks like backfiring spectacularly. Melbourne kicks three of the first four goals and is just 13 points down. Smith has seven and looks like overshadowing the main attraction in a big way.

“Flick the switch, TJ”, we command.

TJ obliges.

The remaining quarter of an hour brings the 19,000 crowd to life amidst a torrent of Richmond goals that bury Melbourne’s brave resistance. But in doing so, we’ve reverted to the team footy that’s brought such success during the year. Roachy’s snared two out of the avalanche, but with the ground engulfed in shadow and the clock past 30 minutes, he’s still stranded on eight.

Finally, another forward thrust puts the ball down his throat. But in his desperate search for this last goal, he’s roamed out into the centre square to take the mark. It’ll take a good 60 metre kick.

Any Richmond fan of a certain age will have seen the footage from the one TV camera that was at the ground that day of Roach’s magnificent, perfectly executed drop punt that vindicated the crowd’s migration and brought them spilling out on the ground in delight. From my vantage point directly behind the goals at the other end of the ground, it’s just as beautiful a sight.

Our last home game of the year has been all about “the ton”, and as the fans jubilantly let fly with yet another round of “We’ve got the best full-forward in the League”, no-one can begrudge them, or the man himself, this moment of triumph.

However, as The Age pointedly commented in the match report, Richmond’s flatteringly large 65 point win has been slipshod and patchy and has done nothing to dispel the lingering doubts as to whether we’ve got the best team in the League.

The Wrap
Richmond 3.3    9.8    17.13    26.18 (174)
Melbourne 3.4    9.6    13.10   16.13 (109)

Goals
Rich: Roach 9, Bartlett 4, Cloke, Keane, Scrimshaw 3, Bourke, Dunne, Weightman, Wiley
Melb: Smith 7, Seddon 2, Byrne, Dullard, Elliott, Gordon, Moir, Nettlefold, O’Donnell

Major Stats
In a surprise, the unheralded Stephen Mount (No. 6) shared the top possession count with Robert Wiley, both having 29 touches. Mount had struggled with form for most of the year and had only recently broken into the strong Tiger lineup.  His timing was impeccable.  Presumably, he was playing off the half-back line where he was to play a stellar role six weeks later in the Grand Final.

Roach’s nine goals came efficiently, from just 14 kicks, whilst KB logged an inaccurate 4.6 from 20 kicks.

For Melbourne, Smith kicked 7.5 from 14 kicks whilst Billy Nettlefold was the leading possession winner with 28.

Attendance
19,048 at the MCG

In other games…
Hawthorn 11.13 (79) v North Melbourne 20.15 (135) at VFL Park
Geelong 14.15 (99) v Collingwood 12.9 (81) at Kardinia Park
Footscray 16.22 (118) v St Kilda 11.7 (73) at Western Oval
Carlton 25.14 (164) v Essendon 16.7 (103) at Princes Park
South Melbourne 20.14 (134) v Fitzroy 17.15 (117) at Lake Oval

Supporters of all teams other than Geelong, envious at the seemingly endless government largesse currently being lavished on the redevelopment of Kardinia Park to “build it up” to a capacity of 40,000 +, would note wryly that a crowd of 42,198 attended on this day.

Supporters of all teams but Collingwood would note with satisfaction that the Magpies used to have to make the trip down the highway in those days and that on this particular occasion, they suffered a clinical demolition by the home team, which included holding the visitors scoreless for 55 minutes. The result confirmed that the Magpies’ best hope now would be an Elimination Final spot.

South capitalised on Collingwood’s loss with a battling win over Fitzroy moving the Swans to within half a game of 5th place, although the quality of the win cast considerable doubt over the realism of such ambitions.

Carlton and North both enjoyed good finals tune-ups with solid wins over Essendon and Hawthorn. Both winners kicked nine goals in the third quarter. And for the third time in recent weeks, Footscray climbed off the bottom of the ladder with a big win at home over St Kilda. Templeton had 28 kicks and 19 marks.

The Ladder
Team           W     L     D     PF     PA     %     Points
Richmond   15    4      1    2592 1785  145.2   62
Geelong        15    5      0    2140 1731  123.6   60
Carlton        15     5     0     2294 1899 120.8  60
Nth Melb      14    6     0     2164 1702 127.1   56
Collingwood 12   7      1     2237  2020 110.7 50
Sth Melb         12     8     0      2021  2008  100.6   48
Hawthorn        9    11     0     2074   2196    94.4   36
Essendon         8     12    0     2044   1988   102.8   32
Melbourne       5    15     0      1973   2463    80.1   20
Footscray         5    15     0      1924   2517     76.4  20
Fitzroy             4     15    1       2139    2510    85.2  18
St Kilda            4     15    1       1702    2485   68.5   18

Next Week – Round 21

About Sam Steele

Stainless (aka Sam Steele) started following Richmond in 1970 when he was 6. This occurred when his mother, under instructions to buy him a Melbourne jumper, found they were out of stock and purchased a Richmond one instead. Despite the decades of heartache and turmoil this fateful decision has brought on Stainless, he is grateful to his mum as he has at least seen his side win a couple of Premierships. After 30 September 2017, his mum is now officially his favourite person.

Comments

  1. Peter Flynn says:

    Cheers Stainless,

    Can’t wait to read your recollections of Sep 6 1980.

  2. Flynny, don’t give the ending away. I’ve come this far now with Stainless, I don’t want to skip to the final chapter.
    Tigers fan George Megalogenis tells us on twitter he missed one game all year in 1980 – you guessed it, this one. He thought he’d reach the ton the following week.

  3. Stainless says:

    Cheers guys – I’m glad you’re managing to derive some suspense from this!

    Cookie – tell George he didn’t miss much. It was a pretty crappy game apart from the ton! I missed three for the year, the third of which I’ll describe next week.

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