AFL Round 18: Half the supporters around me want to lose. I don’t.

By Steve Healy

I really wanted the Dees to win. Put tanking aside, put Tom Scully aside and watch a great team performance. It sounded so simple.

I walked to the train station alone. I don’t usually go to the footy alone, but on this occasion I had to. The train to the ‘G was occupied mainly by yellow-and-black supporters, the families who sit together and talk about footy and much, much else.
Yarra Park was filled with kids around my age madly shaking tins trying to raise money for something called Berry Street. Record-sellers are bad enough.

I walk into the ground and learn that Cale Morton is out and 203-centremetres of Jake Spencer is coming in to replace him. James McDonald wins the toss and kicks to the Punt Rd end. I love the ends at the MCG, each have so much character, unlike Etihad Stadium.

I have a pen and paper with me so I can write down some stuff for my report.

The game gets underway and I’m immediately reminded of Melbourne v Adelaide in Round 5, no scoring in the first five or so minutes. Melbourne looks all right, but can’t score. Mitch Morton snaps the first goal at the 9-minute mark. Another few minutes pass before Jetta crumbs and snaps a goal to make it 6-all. A let off from Riewoldt gives the Dees another chance to attack. And they do it perfectly. Bate marks and dishes it off to Dunn, who kicks a ripper from 50. I think I’ve changed my mind about Dunn, and Bate as well. They do some good things.

As Richmond start to miss I am reminded of the first quarter in Melbourne v Richmond in Round 22 last year. Riewoldt misses as does Jayden Post, who had now kicked 2.6 in his career. At quarter-time the Dees go to the huddle leaders, 2.0 (12) to 1.5 (11). I’ve been impressed with the performance of McDonald so far (who I met at the airport last week). He has eight possessions, the same amount that Bruce, Deledio, Jackson and Cousins have in the first quarter.

Mitch Morton kicks his second in the first minute of the opening quarter. His brother Cale sits in the stands a few bays to the left of me. I stand up and cheer when Davey bangs into Cousins on the wing in front of me. It’s always great to see Cousins get hit hard. McMahon runs away with a couple of bounces and runs to 20 but misses a sitter. He doesn’t get treated very nicely at Tigerland by the club’s supporters. He is the Newton or Toovey of Richmond.

Morton misses another set shot for the Tigers. His direct opponent is Kyle Cheney. It’s amazing how a natural half-back/back pocket player can be made to look a key defender just by pulling his socks up.

Bate kicks a goal for the Demons but Vickery immediately answers with a goal of his own, with his only kick of the day. The Dees stick in it and McMahon misses another for the Tigers. Nathan Brown snaps a goal that could have been easily touched on the line if a Demon player was there. Newton incredibly gets a goal off the ground to bring the Dees within five points. It’s half time and the Dees trail by five points in a low scoring game, 4.3 (27) to 4.8 (32). James McDonald and Cameron Bruce have 15 possessions each for the Demons and Cousins and Jackson have 13 each for the Tigers.

I get out of my seat and buy a Four’ N Twenty pie. I see Austin Wonaeamirri near the food shop. If only he was out there, same with Liam Jurrah. Those two are still yet to play together.

The third quarter is underway and Grimes marks strongly. He passes to Miller, who lines up and puts the Dees in front. Grimes should come second in the Rising star award. He is a freak, and he will only get better. He is also good for Dream Team and SuperCoach, which is good for people like me.

Nahas snaps a goal for the Tigers to put them back in front.  The 21-year old is ineligible for a Rising star nomination, but he has still done enough to earn his name on a couple of posters and banners in the cheer squad.

Jack Grimes misses a set shot for the first behind of his career. Just his second score as well.  Davey kicks one of the most skilled goals you will ever see from 50, a ball that had incredible curl on it. I am back on my feet when Lynden Dunn dribbles one through from the boundary line. He may have a weird name, but he can play. I realise that the Dees are playing beautifully, just like the Richmond game in Round 4 this year.

Jack Riewoldt snaps a goal, as does Ricky Petterd, who is also a much improved player. Deledio marks and kicks a goal. At three-quarter time the Demons lead, 8.7 (55) to 7.10 (52). McDonald has 25 possessions for Melbourne and Petterd is next in line with 18. Deledio and Jackson have 18 each for Richmond. We have to win!

The first thing I notice in the last quarter is that Warnock and Frawley are lining up in the forward line. Miller is on the ball and Newton is on the wing. Paul Johnson is at centre half-back. What’s going on?

The teams trade behinds before Nathan Brown puts the Tigers in front. Hislop kicks another from a stupid mistake by Jared Rivers. It’s unbearable to watch. Jones kicks a goal. The rest of this game is an emotional blur for me.

The Tigers edge ahead and I look at the coaches’ box, as if to say, “What’s going on”. Scott West looks back at me. He understands. Petterd and Grimes kick goals and the Dees are in front. I can’t handle this. I could never be in this situation again.  Half the Supporters around me want to lose. I don’t. A young girl announces that there is 48 seconds to go. Please. The ball goes forward for the Tigers. McMahon marks it after the siren sounds. The umpire gives it to him. Don’t be a goal. It is. Melbourne lose.

McDonald finishes with 28 possessions and Petterd and Bruce 25 each. Cousins finishes with 27 for the Tigers, Deledio 24 and the match winner McMahon with 23, but at only 48 per cent effectiveness. Looking back at the game a day later, I realise that there’s light at the end of a long tunnel.

Melbourne  2.0 4.3  8.7  12.10 (82)

Richmond 1.5  4.8   7.10 12.14 (86)

Goals
Melbourne: Miller 2, Dunn 2, Petterd 2, Davey, Grimes, Bate, Newton, Jetta, Jones.
Richmond: Brown 3, Deledio 2, Morton 2, McMahon, Riewoldt, Nahas, Hislop, Vickery.

Best
Melbourne: McDonald, Grimes, Petterd, Bruce, Dunn, Davey, Jones.
Richmond: Brown, Deledio, Cousins, Morton, Jackson.

My Votes: 3. James McDonald (Melb), 2. Nathan Brown (Rich), 1. Jack Grimes (Melb).

Umpires: Farmer, James, Keating.                             Crowd: 37,438 at the MCG.

About Steve Healy

Steve Healy is an entity of a Melbourne supporter.

Comments

  1. Damian Watson says:

    Steve,
    Must bring back some bad memories of the 1987 Preliminary Final as McMahon kicked from a similar distance to where Buckenara did at Waverley.

    Did you notice any Melbourne fans singing the Richmond song after the game?

  2. Steve Healy says:

    Thanks for the comment Damo,

    I saw quite a few Melbourne “fans” singing outside the ground on my way out. The roar in the ground when McMahon took that mark was the most terrifiying thing I have heard in my life.

    Just a horrible game to watch. I really hope Melbourne beat the Roos next week.

    What are your views on tanking Damo? You’d be an expert, having experienced discussion like this 2 years ago.

  3. Josh Barnstable says:

    I really don’t hope Melbourne win next week.

    Good on you, Steve. I’m glad you follow your team through the rough times and support them every week. Nice to see a good crowd at the game too.

  4. Steve Healy says:

    Melbourne could beat the Roos, but not if Dean Bailey does any stupid moves again. He said in the press conference that he was “experimenting” with the players. There was nothing worse than seeing Frawley and Warnock in the forward line in the final minutes of the game.

    Yes, I always support my club through thick and thin. It’s good that you do the same, but I must admit that North Melbourne have had an unlucky year to have only four and a half wins.

  5. Josh Barnstable says:

    Well, just between you and me i considered going for Hawthorn after Round 3, 2007. I just couldn’t go for a team uncertain to stay in Victoria and Hawthorn was my next favourite team. Lucky i stayed with North though, as its been a downhill ride since then, only going uphill now.

  6. Steve Healy says:

    Gee, Josh,

    I think changing teams is like moving overseas or having a new life.

    When I went to kinder one of my freinds went for Melbourne but changed to Essendon when they started playing well in 2000. And he wanted to change after Melbourne lost their last nine games in 1999. It was ironic that Melbourne went on to lose to Essendon in the 2000 grand final.

    I feel for the Fitzroy fans in 1996 when they had a split decision to make. Whether to stick with their team in Brisbane, or stop following a team or barrack for someone else. The picture of Michael Voss and Leigh Matthews holding up the premiership cup at a crowded Brunswick St Oval always makes me think about what sticking with a team means.

    I would never switch, even if Melbourne lost something like 30-40 games in a row.

  7. Damian Watson says:

    Haha very funny Steve,

    But I can understand why everyone are accusing Carlton of tanking in ’07, there where a few final quarter fadeouts late in the season and the performance against Melbourne in the final round was deplorable.

    There is one thing I do know and that is the players are always out on the field, they will always go into the game with a winning mentality.

    Since mergers seem to be the topic what would you have done with Melbourne in 1996 during the proposed merger with Hawthorn? Would you have gone for the Melbourne Hawks?

    Keep in mind that Melbourne were supporting the merger.

  8. Steve Healy says:

    I would have gone for the Melbourne Hawks, definitely.
    It was so close to happening.

    I was too young to remember it but Melbourne fans just voted in favour of it.

    I wish Diamond Joe Gutnick was still President.

  9. Josh Barnstable says:

    Sorry to change the topic but did you read the article in the Herald Sun today Steve? The article about Melbourne tanking last Sunday. I think the Dees were not tanking. How can a team be down with a couple of minutes to go, kick 2 quick goals to get in front and then “supposedly” let Richmond win the game with a very lucky kick after the siren. If the Dees can plan all that and expect to lose, they can definately plan to win every game!

  10. Steve Healy says:

    Josh,I don’t think the players were tanking but I think the coach was. (although a couple of fumbles from the Dees did begin to convince me otherwise)Dean Bailey obviously didn’t care about the result of the game or he would’ve kept everyone in their normal positions. It’d all be so much different if McMahon had missed, or that mark wasn’t allowed.

  11. Josh Barnstable says:

    And why has Wonaeamirri been out? I don’t think he’s played a game this year. Can’t wait to see him and Jurrah in the same forward line.

  12. Josh Barnstable says:

    The McMahon mark definately shouldn’t have been paid. I saw it on TV and he marked it at least a second after the clock had hit 0:00.

  13. Steve Healy says:

    He has “Brad Ottens Syndrome”.

    He is always listed on the injury list as “3-4 weeks”, and he has been listed as that since Round 1 until about a week ago when his knee injury has changed to “indefinite”. I can’t wait till his back though. Wonaeamirri, Jurrah and Watts could one day create the best forward line ever.

  14. Steve Healy says:

    Yea, when I watched it on the replay it was perfectly clear that he didn’t take it. It was quite hard to tell at the ground though, because of all the noise, but I heard it.

  15. Glad to see my first instincts weren’t wrong on the siren. I was yelling at the tv and I’m a Hawks fan (P.S. I was never willing to support the Melbourne Hawks either).

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