A father’s day present of finals tickets sees me sitting in the Ponsford stand at the MCG watching my second Richmond game in about 25 years. Marriage, family, work, life, a move 90 minutes from Melbourne, a different perspective on the importance of football all dulled the passion of my youth.
I feel a twinge of guilt that I have stopped a more passionate supporter than myself getting tickets.
The Tigers are back in the finals (where they belong the banner tells me) and the Tiger Army is out in force. As the ground fills with spectators the yellow and black seems to be much more prevalent than navy blue. You can sense a nervousness in the Tiger camp. There’s been many glasses half empty over the years, some even a quarter empty or even 10 per cent empty. Tiger fans can often see the downside first – rather than the positive. They were only convinced they were in the finals when ninth could not overtake them.
For all Richmond’s mid-field dominance in the first quarter Carlton’s defence is mostly up to the task and the Tigers can’t get a clear avenue to goal. They miss a couple they should not have and take an undercooked margin into quarter time. In the second quarter Richmond again look desperate and committed and seem to have control of the ball but have not completely dominated on the scoreboard. My own glass half empty version is that Richmond have played well in their first final for 12 years. They have not looked out of place or dropped their bundle or been blown away (think North Melbourne last year or Essendon about five years ago). Maybe the glass is only 40 per cent empty.
Directly behind me someone has brought a friend and their family to their first AFL game and he has been explaining the nuances of our game – contested positions, mid-field dominance, free kicks, why 50m penalties are given. Sometimes of course he can’t explain the umpire’s decision! It is actually really annoying to have him give his opinion of the game speaking virtually non-stop throughout the game.
As soon as the second half starts there seems like an inevitability about the result. A couple of Carlton goals and they are within reach. Richmond players are going into their shells and poking and prodding the ball and going down the boundary rather than taking the game on. Chris Judd was quiet in the first half but turns back the clock and is brilliant in the third quarter; unstoppable, everywhere. Why can’t anyone lay a tackle on him? He evades and eludes and creates. The Richmond glass is virtually empty; they are ahead but from where I view the game it appears over at three quarter time.
And so it proves. The finals desperation of the first half is gone, only Ivan Maric seems to realise that the game is slipping away. Carlton are dominant everywhere. Richmond’s forward thrusts are limited and ill-conceived. The only bonus is that the man behind has stopped his incessant commentary. He is as shocked as the rest of the Richmond fans about the complete turnaround in the game. The Tiger glass is completely empty. Twelve years was a long time to wait and the Tiger fans came out in force.
Glass half empty summary: lost a game after leading at half time
Glass half full summary: finished above Collingwood.
Votes: 3 Judd, 2 Waite, 1 Cotchin