The road to North Nitch


by Callum O’Connor

I have no doubt the coverage
particularly in NSW and Queensland,
will be enhanced on a national basis
which will be great for our supporters.



I called all my brothers and uncles and aunts,
and I said, “Listen here! Here’s a wonderful chance
for the whole Once-Ler Family to get mighty rich!
Get over here fast! Take the road to North Nitch.



The AFL is becoming more focused on money than ever. Andrew Demetriou is chasing his North Nitch up in Greater Western Sydney and the Gold Coast while Lorax clubs like Richmond and Adelaide scrabble what wins they can.

Adelaide has had a shocking season. My Tigers have ground out a marginal gain on last season. In fact, if we hadn’t sold games to Port and Gold Coast, we could’ve finished ninth.  It’s been a return to the good old bad old days of 2002-06, when we would start well, lose eight or ten games midyear then scrounge a few dead rubber wins to give us hope for the future.

Speaking of dead rubbers, today we’ll play Adelaide in one of six games that have turned out to be virtually irrelevant to the whole 2011 season. This isn’t a hyped-up game, or one that will even draw much interest. Indeed, if anyone outside of family and friends reads this report, thank you, you are a good person.

Adelaide just never forgave Richmond for the ‘basketball’ match the Tigers pinched off them in 2006. In Round 20 2008 they smashed us to realistically end our finals chances. When we surprised everyone by rolling the Hawks the next week, the Crows handed the match to the Saints in Round 22 to officially close the door on us.

So onto the match, and despite my predictions, the teams put in a really good opening term to kick 12.5 between them. The Tigers don’t make a start that’s overly inspiring: Alex Rance fumbles the ball across the backline, not having clean possession until the goalpost, and is penalised for a deliberate rushed behind. Scott Thompson, a week after having the softest 51 touches ever seen in a game of AFL, kicks a goal. Tyrone Vickery, developing steadily as a ruckman/forward, puts a couple through. The Crows have a two goal lead at quarter time that could’ve been more, but also less.

On the radio, coming back from Point Lonsdale, I keep trying to hear Richard Tambling’s name. I want to hear the boos from our Grog Squad: boos for not being Buddy Franklin, boos for ultimately achieving nothing in six seasons, boos for actually being more consistent at Adelaide than Richmond. But he gets nothing. He may have avoided playing. Ah well. I’m not bitter.

The Crows kick seven for the term, Richmond kicks five. I’m starting to decide we won’t be able to keep up.

The second quarter settles back into the frustrating, roundabout affair I had expected. Richmond kicks 1.6, Adelaide 2.3. Crows lead by 16 at half time.

As we hit a dense bit of country, the radio jumps around. We hear snatches of ‘gale force wind’, ‘coming up to two forty’ and dreary strains of classical music as we wind down the valleys of Geelong, the current North Nitch. Keeping track of the game is difficult, but Richmond goes forward. Jack Riewoldt kicks a goal with the backing song of The Boys Light Up. The radio is twisted in a myriad of different positions as the reception drops, fuzzes and whines.

Richard Douglas kicks a goal to make it 24 points and I grumpily grit my teeth. This feels like a losing position.


The match ends up changing on a kick. Adelaide forward Shaun McKernan misses a shot from forty out. The goal would’ve made it thirty points, and potentially snapped Richmond’s fight. Suddenly, in a tantalising yet agonising vision of what this year could’ve been, Richmond sweep the Crows off their feet. Our exciting midfield shows its genuine potential. Martin grabs the game with his typical hardnosed arrogance, Foley burrows in with unyielding determination and Cotchin calmly weaves in and out and around packs with the balance and efficiency of a young Simon Black. For once, listening to the Tigers on the radio isn’t stressful. In fact, it’s very enjoyable as everything falls into place.


Bang, Martin slams one through. Bang, Nahas flicks out of a pack like a wisp of grass through lawnmower blades to kick a goal. Two minutes later and Brad Miller, one of our three handy pickups in the trade season, sinks a long goal. Jake King, with all the risk analysis and intensity of a pitbull, guns out of a pack and kicks a goal in the square. Miller kicks his second and all the run, momentum and belief is with the Struggletown Tigers at three quarter time.

The trusty Pajero wobbles home. Everyone unfolds out, stretching cramped joints – I leap out to punch the air as Martin chips a volley over heads to Vickery who gratefully kicks his fourth. Martin slams through his second and we lead by seventeen points.

From there, my boys kick about three sealing goals. Adelaide reply each time, sowing a seed of angst with each of them, but they are shot. They have ingloriously face planted at the worst possible time.


Richmond wins. We are, once again, a team with a genuine future. Riewoldt has kicked 59 goals for the season, but Vickery (35), Martin (31), Nahas (25) and King (24) have contributed handy numbers. Our backline, a weak link in the first half of the season, now looks able with Rance, Thursfield, Grigg and Houli. Our midfield is set already. It’s exciting to think what it can achieve with the bulk of maturity in the near future. 

I step outside the back door and look around smiling.

The sunlight is permeating gently through the trees, lacing them with light and shadow. Eagles are softly soaring over far off hills. The sky is a spread of grey blue fading into golden over to the east.
It’s beautiful. It looks even better when the Tigers are looking up.

Who needs a North Nitch anyway?


Adelaide             7.3          9.6          12.9        15.9.99
Richmond           5.2          6.8          12.13     17.19.121
Best-(Rich) Martin, Vickery, Nahas, Cotchin, Foley, King.
        – (Adel) Van Berlo, Vince, Dangerfield, Thompson, Gunston, Rutten.
Goals-(Rich) Vickery 4, Nahas 3, Miller 2, Martin 2, Morton, Jackson, Graham, Riewoldt, King, 
          – (Adel) Gunston 5, Vince 2, Van Berlo 2, Tippett 2, Thompson, Douglas, Wright, Walker.
Umpires: Grun, Dalgeish, Wenn
Crowd: 38,023 at AAMI
VOTES: 3-D. Martin 2-T. Vickery 1-J. Gunston

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. Stainless says:

    Nice report Callum

    I also have a bit of a travelling theme around my observations of the game as I was watching it intermittently in the first half, whilst loading rubbish onto the trailer for a run to the Lardner Transfer Station (aka the Drouin Tip). I chose half time as the point to make my run, thinking we’d probably battle our way to an honourable 5 goal defeat. Bad move. In that time the Tiges made their matchwinning move.

    It looks like another summer of question marks for Richmond fans, doesn’t it. Do we trust the early and late rounds as the signs of real progress or that dreadful mid-season slump as the warning of yet another false dawn? Strangley I feel vaguely optimistic – but I’ll reserve judgement until Sunday. The last three weeks have been classic Richmond – winning when there’s no expectation. This week is actually one that we should easily win against a side that will be flat and missing key players. We’ll have the home crowd and the incentive to finish on a 4-win high. It’s just the formula for an anti-climax.

  2. Matt Webber says:

    Ripping read. I also like that you too drive a wobbly Pajero.

  3. johnharms says:

    COC, you write with a maturity way beyond your years. Genuinely original, engaging, and amusing. The booing of Tambling for not being Buddy line is a cracker.

  4. The difference between this Richmond team and previous teams can best be described as hopeful because we have a coach who has coached well, and hopefully will be a 10 year coach. Damien Hardwick, thank you for instilling honesty and belief in this young group.
    Go Tigers.

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