AFL Round 12: Richmond v West Coast: All in all another great day in my young life

By Josh Barnstable

An early morning is necessary today. Due to an absolute screw-up by the Picola and District Football League, my club, Waaia, has been put in the same division as clubs like Tungamah (our opponents today), Shepp East, Dookie and Rennie, which are 60 kilometres away, while the other half of the competition contains teams such as Strathmerton, Picola, Yarroweyah and Wunghnu, which are within 20 kilometres. So off to Tungamah I go.

A mere 219 points conceded later, Dad and I stop at the Tungamah pub to talk to former North Melbourne player and member of the 1975 premiership team Peter Chisnall, who’s the publican. After a few words, he shows Dad and I his premiership medallion, which gets me thinking of all the really good things I have completed that some kids would still have on their ‘to-do list’:

– Hold a premiership medal

As above.

– Meet Kevin Murray and have a Brownlow Medal around my neck

On our way to North v Port Adelaide last year we stopped at Kevin Murray’s house and we talked with him for 20 minutes or so which resulted in him getting his Brownlow Medal out and letting me have a play with it. He gave me some wise advice: always go the ball as it’s the ball that gets me the goals, not the opponent.

– Meet Ron Barassi

In Ballarat one day at the Memorial Wall we crossed paths before talking to him, then getting a picture with him and spending the next day with him. Once again he gave me some advice: never complain to the umpires about a decision made against me or the team.

– Go into the rooms of an AFL club

I’ve been in the rooms of an AFL club quite a few times actually; once I even met Ricky Ponting — in the North Melbourne changerooms and I had a conversation with him. On another occasion Mum was planted right outside the door of the showers. Now she knows why they call Saverio Rocca ‘Big Sav’.

-Meet Francis Bourke

Hailing from Nathalia, the Richmond legend was at a function at the Golf Club in Numurkah. Dad went inside and asked if he would like to come outside as I was not allowed in the area he was in. He came out and talked with me for around five minutes as it was night time and freezing rain was pouring down. I appreciated him coming out to talk to me.

-Meet Glenn Archer, Denis Pagan and Anthony Stevens

Anthony Stevens comes from Waaia and Dad assistant- coached him when Stevo played in the under-14s, so Stevo is always glad to stop and have a chat with Dad and I when we see him. Glenn Archer was recently at a sportsmen’s night at Waaia which saw Stevo play a one-off game for the club and later Arch, Stevo and Denis Pagan took centre stage to talk to what seemed the entire population of Waaia in one medium-sized room. I won’t forget that night, full of laughs and memories.

-Win a signed jumper

I won a North Melbourne jumper in 2002 signed by all the players on the list at the time. I featured in the local paper with a picture of myself and the jumper.

-Meet Allen Aylett

The day after the announcement of North Melbourne’s Team of the Century presentation, Dad and I met Allen Aylett and, Dad being Dad, talked to him for quite a while.

-Go on the radio

Every Friday I go on ABC Radio and talk with Peter ‘Crackers’ Keenan on Kathy Bedford’s Statewide Drive program, about the upcoming AFL matches, issues in football and my tips for the weekend.

I will never forget those memories and the advice those football champions passed on to me. Later that night, after arriving home from Tungamah, I reflect on those achievements and I’m excited about the match about to start.

This game has been standing out like a beacon since the AFL fixture was released late last year. And now it’s here. Fans have been waiting for this match to see Ben Cousins take on his old mob from the West Coast. Now, as the season has seen many twists, turns and the dropping of older players, this match has become a story within a story within a story. Story number 1: Ben Cousins. Story number 2: Jade Rawlings’ first game in charge of the Tigers after the departure of Terry Wallace during the week. And finally, Story number 3: Nick Naitanui and Tyrone Vickery, both young ruckmen, both heavily dreadlocked teenagers, both making their debuts for their respective teams. Let’s go!

The first quarter begins and the Tigers look lively, Angus Graham taking a mark inside 50, 15 metres out from goal. He converts. Mitch Morton takes a sliding mark and goals from 30m out before taking an uncontested mark, playing on and snapping his 2nd to take the margin out to 19 points. The Eagles kicked their first of the night through Josh Kennedy after he marked and goaled from 15m out but goals to Brett Deledio and Morton after taking his 6th mark inside 50 for the quarter, kicking his 3rd goal. The margin is 30 points. Finals for the Tigers? A late goal to Matthew Priddis after some deft skills from Naitanui saw the young midfielder snap a brilliant goal to cut the margin to 24 points at quarter time, 2.0 to 5.6. Richard Tambling was stunning, picking up 14 touches while Cousins has 10. For the Eagles, Chris Masten has 7 while skipper Darren Glass has 6 possessions. A sour note for the Tigers with Will Thursfield helped off the ground by trainers after a nasty head clash that I didn’t see because I was out of the room.

The second quarter starts and a goal to Kennedy from 2m out cuts the margin to 3 goals. Then Shane Edwards, back in the side tonight, kicks a running goal from 40. Kennedy then marks and kicks his 3rd from 50m out before Jack Riewoldt snags a goal to take the Tigers out to a 25 point lead. Kennedy then kicks his 4th after picking up the crumbs and snapping a goal to reduce the margin to 17. Tom Hislop tackles hard and is rewarded with a goal before the final goal of the half goes to Mitch Brown after some brilliant pressure by the Eagles’ midfield. Brown grubbers the kick through from 40m out, an unusual option at kicking for goal but it pays off in the end, the Eagles going into half time 18 points in arrears, 6.2 to 8.8. Once again, I am finding it hard to hear the commentary of the match over the constant complaining and bickering of Robert Walls. That man needs a sock in his mouth; he is always criticising young players on their mistakes.

The third quarter gets underway and Essendon reject Hislop kicks a goal in some unconvincing bit of play. Robin Nahas, small zippy forward who could be blamed for being a bit hungry around the goals tonight, gathered on the half forward line, ran towards the pocket and set himself to kick the goal. He decided to keep going and handball off to Hislop in the pocket but the handball was smothered by Glass, resulting in a fight for the ball which was thrown out to Hislop who goaled. On this occasion, Nahas needed to be selfish; he needed to kick the goal. Mark LeCras snapped a goal from a pack before Vickery received a free kick and lines up for goal from 40m out. The kick looks left but at the last moment swings right and is through for his first goal in AFL, extending the margin to 24 points. A goal to Matthew Rosa after receiving from Naitanui sees the margin cut to 18 points and then Scott Selwood gathers the ball and, running to the 50m line, kicks to his brother Adam in the goalsquare who takes the mark, plays on and runs into an open goal despite stopping to see if a free kick was paid against him. The Eagles trailed by just 11 points going into the last change, 9.7 to 10.12. Nathan Foley is on 28 touches while Tambling has 26. For the Eagles, Priddis is on 26 possessions.

The final chapter of the story starts and Morton starting turning it into a fairy-tale for Richmond fans, kicking the opening two goals through Morton to take the lead out to 23 points. The Eagles are intent on ruining the script, with Naitanui taking a hanger on the behind line, a mark that would make Russell Robertson green with envy. He doesn’t have the composure to kick the goal though, with Naitanui’s snap hitting the post. LeCras kicked a long goal from 50m out to cut the margin to 15 points before Edwards kicked a brilliant goal on the run from 40. A late goal to LeCras made the muscles tenser in the Richmond fans but after a few minutes of end-to-end footy, the siren sounded, ending the game with Richmond the victors by 15 points, 13.14.92 to 11.11.77. Foley finished on 31 possessions while Shane Tuck had 30 for the Tigers. For the Eagles, Priddis finished on 33 disposals while Masten ended up on 29 touches.

So, it’s a 100% winning record so far for Jade Rawlings. How long will that last though? Next round they have the Saints who are steamrolling towards the finals so my guess is that by next Monday, Rawlings’ coaching record will read: 1 win, 1 loss. The West Coast Eagles? There is something wrong with them. How do they push Geelong and lose by 22 points and then come out a week later and lose by 15 points in a match where the Tigers’ played a half-tempo type of game, probably because the Eagles lacked so much pressure on the opposition? The difference between playing at Subiaco and playing away from home is far too great for the Eagles and they need to bridge that gap. Very soon, for the sake of me, as I can not handle yet another rant from Robert Walls.

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