AFL Round 13 – Western Bulldogs v Richmond: Toying with the F word

The F word is rearing its ugly head again and causing untold trauma to Richmond fans everywhere.

Until now, whenever the finals have been mentioned since we last made it in 2001 (just writing it sends a chill down my spine), it has ended in tears. “Gee the Tiges are travelling well,” a commentator/fan/club official would say after we’d strung a few wins together: “This could just be their/our year”.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that in the past 12 years I’d have enough to buy three Lance Franklins and two Gary Abletts – junior and senior.

Inevitably, however, we’ve fallen in a heap and even found a way to lose to Gold Coast in Cairns – twice. Just thinking about the many frustrating losses is enough to trigger Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the hardiest Tiger fan.

Fast forward to midway through the 2013 season and the F word is resurfacing once more. After flogging West Cost in Perth and winning as favourites against Adelaide and the Bulldogs, we are now eight and four in sixth position, with winnable games coming up against St Kilda and North.

Should we finally dare to dream?

My husband says no. Just shut up, he snaps, don’t even think about it. He’s been burned so many times he can’t even talk about it without coming out in hives and having psychedelic flashbacks to a Clinton Casey press conference.

(Almost) everyone is now saying we can do it. And I know we can. But when it comes to Richmond, potential and reality can be two very different things. There is still plenty of time to mess it up. And worse still, a third home game against Gold Coast in Cairns.

Could that match sink our finals chances for the third year in a row? Hundreds of Melbourne’s psychologists are literally rubbing their hands together at the thought.

This Etihad game against the Bulldogs illustrated perfectly the psychology of modern day Richmond fans. The Tigers were clear favourites, but as I boarded the train with daughter Jess and friend Robyn, we were worried.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Robyn said, telling a Dogs’ fan on the platform she thought they’d play well. I also had a sinking feeling in the gut. These games that could consolidate our position in the eight were ALWAYS the ones we lost. Always.

In a good sign early, we secured the level one seats they sell for just $20 when needed to fill Etihad’s ground level for the TV cameras. Instead of sitting up in the clouds we were two rows from the front near the Richmond Cheer Squad.

But we didn’t relax. You just can’t as a Richmond fan.

As expected, the first half was ordinary. The Tigers kept their noses in front but kicked terribly – at quarter time it was 4.8 to 3.3. The Dogs were admirable, trying hard and contesting at every opportunity. At the long break we led by 22 points but they were still within striking distance.

Whatever rocket Damien Hardwick shot up his charges bums at half time worked. Richmond took control in the third quarter and were never headed. We actually relaxed before three quarter time, practically unheard of for us.

Vickery turned a slow first half on its head with some ace marks, twists and turns, letting go a slick final quarter had pass to Daniel Jackson that saw Jacko slot an amazing banana in front of our $20 premium seats. Not to be outdone, Captain Perfect Trent Cotchin kicked another from almost the same spot after a Houdini-like escape from Matthew Boyd.

Overall it was an even performance. Dustin Martin continued to show improved consistency, Bachar Houli had heaps of it and so did Brett Deledio. The much maligned Daniel Jackson was great and Ivan Maric gave his heart and soul in the ruck against Will Minson.

Riewoldt only kicked three but played a good team game and Grigg was more than handy. Conca continued to mature and first year player Nick Vlastuin (pronounced floss-tone) runs around like he was he was 25.

The final margin was 60 points but the Doggies didn’t drop their heads. They simply weren’t as strong as a Richmond team finally realising some of its potential. If they continue to do what they are capable of, Tiger fans could see finals action for only the third time since 1982.

We are now daring to dream – but memories of all those nightmares are never far from away.

WESTERN BULLDOGS      3.3    5.9    5.11    8.13 (61)     

RICHMOND                          4.8   8.13  13.16  17.19 (121)        

 

GOALS

Western Bulldogs: Stringer 2, Cooney, Jones, Hunter, Giansiracusa, Murphy, Boyd

Richmond: Riewoldt 3, Conca 2, Vickery 2, A Edwards, Foley, Houli, Grigg, Martin, White, Jackson, Vlastuin, Cotchin

 

BEST 

Western Bulldogs: Griffen, Boyd, Murphy, Macrae, Hunter, Roughead

Richmond: Martin, Houli, Conca, Jackson, Grigg, Riewoldt, Deledio

 

UMPIRES: Margetts, Stewart, Kamolins CROWD: 29,788

 

OUR VOTES Martin (Rich) 3, Houli (Rich) 2, Griffen (Bulldogs), 1.

BROWNLOW

ENDS

 

Comments

  1. Luke Reynolds says:

    Love reading your Richmond angst Cheryl, pretty sure the Tiges will make the 8 now. Watched the replay this morning, enjoying the Tigers style of play (as a neutral it’s much easier). Just hope you can get over your Gold Coast in Cairns bogey!

  2. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Thanks Luke. We are a funny lot. We won’t relax until we’re five games clear in the eight with two games to go :-). The bottom line is we are nervous with good reason, having seen only two finals series since 1982. However the club seems to be heading in the right direction at the moment. There is always room for improvement but they are doing a great job. Let’s hope it pays off with a finals appearance this year!

  3. Cheryl

    I’m with your husband. Don’t mention it!

    My approach: Tupperware. Let’s keep a lid on it.

    They’ll be nerves amongst the group going to Cairns I am sure, now that the Gold Coast are a decent side.

    Blues game towards the end of the year shaping as a cracker.

    Sean

  4. Cheryl Critchley says:

    We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t Sean. Other teams are allowed to discuss the march to the finals but us poor Tiger fans can’t say anything for fear of jinxing them :-(. Problem is for the last 12 years we have jinxed them!

  5. Stainless says:

    Cheryl

    If you want a positive sign, it was the re-emergence of the Ugly 10 Goal Win. I think I last saw Richmond hand one of them out in about 1982.

    If you want the emotional roller coaster to stop messing with your head, just concentrate on the maths. Six more wins guarantees it.

    Apart from that I have no comment :)

  6. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Problem is when you’re talking Richmond you can’t pencil in any of them!! We’ve got St Kilda (MCG), North (Etihad), Gold Coast (Cairns), Fremantle (MCG), Sydney (SCG), Hawthorn (MCG), Brisbane (MCG), Carlton (MCG), GWS (Skoda), Essendon (MCG). The good: five of the last seven games are at the MCG. The bad: Losing to Gold Coast again could be enough to stuff us. Perish the thought!

  7. Haje Halabi says:

    Forge ahead Chez- and I cant wait to see my tiges soon….

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