AFL Grand Final – Adelaide v Richmond: Best. Day. Ever.

 

Small moments bring home the enormity of an occasion. And for me, seeing the yellow and black ribbons on the premiership cup as it passed the cheering crowd at the grand final parade was one of those moments. No longer onlookers on the greatest day of the footy season, the Tigers have, after such an agonisingly long wait, made it to another grand final. I had all but given up on Richmond being able to improve beyond the hat-trick of elimination final capitulations of 2013, 2014 and 2015. But this year, the off-field changes resulted in a new-style Richmond that was determined and exciting to watch.

 

In the lead-up to grand final weekend, I found the plethora of contradictory expert opinions in the media to be completely overwhelming. So, on Friday night I took myself back to a long-gone era of minimal technology and pulled up socks: I watched the 1980 grand final. I remember little of watching the game on TV as a kid, but I vividly remember the overwhelming feeling of satisfaction from being able to wear my footy jumper – with the number 8 on the back – to school the following Monday.

 

Like the 44 players to take the field today, this is my, my sister’s and my nephew’s first grand final. Aware that this day is to be savoured and not taken for granted, we started the day on the south bank of the Yarra to watch Fox Footy’s longest kick competition, which was far more fun in person than it is on TV. After a lap of the outside of the ground to soak in the atmosphere, my sister and nephew head to their seats and I head to mine.

 

Having won the lottery for a grand final ticket, I have a seat. It’s restricted view (because of some easily avoided railing next to a TV camera) but I have a front row seat to the biggest game of the year. I sit back and take in the expanse of the MCG in front of me, watching the crowd build to capacity. The pre-game entertainment is surprisingly good but I’m impatient for the game to begin.

 

Adelaide come into the game as favourites, and while a Richmond win would be a stunning conclusion to a fairy tale season, grand final results aren’t determined by Hollywood scriptwriters. I can’t let myself give in to confidence or hope; I steel myself to be prepared for any outcome.

 

With the formalities over the game finally begins. Two quick goals to Adelaide, one to Rory Sloan and one to Eddie Betts, are an ominous start. The Adelaide team is scarily full of potential game winners and we don’t want these two to get on top early. The Tigers slowly overcome their nerves to get back into the game. Jack Riewoldt is lively early but inaccurate when kicking for goal. Then, finally, a Tiger goal to Josh Caddy, and while the Adelaide crowd has been noisy, the Tiger crowd is noisier. The relentless Richmond pressure is taking effect; we’re eleven points down at quarter time but we’re in this.

 

In the second quarter, Bachar Houli is everywhere, Alex Rance is a commanding presence in defence and Dusty is Dusty. The Tigers kick goals through Riewoldt, Jacob Townsend, Jack Graham and Dusty. Inexplicably, the Crows are held goalless in the second quarter, with three of their five points from the quarter coming from rushed behinds. The Crows seem rattled. Their star players are hardly sighted and the Crouch brothers try but are unable to do everything themselves. The Tigers are only nine points up at half time but it seems like much more than that. I have a sense of hope.

 

Three goals to the Tigers at the beginning of the third quarter build the excitement around the yellow and black parts of the ground to a fever pitch. Adelaide supporters are beginning to look dejected, and when Tex Walker’s goal is met with two more to the Tigers, the unimaginable from 12 months ago becomes real. The Tigers are 34 points up at three-quarter time with almost twice as many individual goalkickers than the Crows have goals.

 

In the fourth quarter, the Tigers continue the party with goals to Riewoldt and Dion Prestia. Two quick goals to the Crows – the first time they’ve kicked two in a row since the beginning of the first quarter – are met with three more to the Tigers, with each on-field celebration an out-pouring of emotion. I want this to end, but I also want this feeling to last forever. When the final siren sounds, the crowd roars and the Richmond players give in to unchecked celebration. No-one in the crowd moves; this is the moment to be savoured.

 

Later, after the medal presentations and the lap of honour are long finished, I head to the Great Southern Stand to catch up with friends and watch the Killers. Here, after the sun has set on the best day ever, I sit back and enjoy an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction.

 

Adelaide                       4.1         4.7       5.10       8.12           (60)

Richmond                     2.3         6.4       11.8     16.12           (108)

 

GOALS

Adelaide: Sloane 2, Walker 2, Betts, Greenwood, B. Crouch, Cameron

Richmond: Graham 3, Townsend 2, Martin 2, Riewoldt 2, Caddy, Houli, Grigg, Lambert, Castagna, Riewoldt, Prestia, Butler

BEST

Adelaide: M. Crouch, Jacobs, B. Crouch, Sloane, Laird

Richmond: Martin, Houli, Rance, Astbury, Prestia, Edwards, Graham, Grimes

VOTES

3 Martin (Richmond); 2 Houli (Richmond); 1 Rance (Richmond)

Crowd: 100,021

 

More 2017 Grand Final coverage here.

About Gill

As a youngster, Gill thought that frequent Richmond premierships were assured, but in the many years since 1980 she realised her folly and distracted herself by crunching numbers at a university. The magnificence of the Tigers’ 2017 season has restored her faith in Richmond and all of humanity.

Comments

  1. Joe De Petro says:

    Great stuff, Gill. What a day!

  2. Some of the players were in disbelief. I feel the same, what just happened? In 1980 it was expected, almost inevitable. Strangely I felt the same before the match, the Tiges to win easily but still hard to believe that they did it.

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