AFL Round 3 – Richmond v Western Bulldogs: All aboard the bandwagon

Following Richmond and pessimism go hand in hand. We turn up to every game thinking the worst. When playing a top team, I go in thinking we’re going to get smashed. If we’re expected to win, my nerves are worse than a chain smoker on a long-haul flight.

“You’ll easily get over the line this week,” our friends will say leading up to a match against a team close to the bottom of the ladder. But we Richmond fans know better.

Over the past ten years extensive research based on my memory – clouded slightly after blocking out much of the trauma – shows that Richmond has lost 84.3 per cent of games it was favoured to win.

Take those games against Gold Coast – I’ve just broken out in hives at the thought. The minute the AFL draw was released showing we’d sold home games to Cairns, I knew we were going to lose. I just knew it. I was proved right – twice.

The same thing happens when winning a winnable game would set us up for finals action, like the Freo game last year. We’d beaten St Kilda for the first time in nine years and the Dockers’ MCG record was terrible. And it was raining. But we lost. As we do.

This year I want to lose that feeling of dread whenever we go into a game we are expected to win. But it’s hard. After 12 years with no finals action, that sense of impending doom is hard to shake.

I felt it again today as I sat on the train heading into our Round 3 clash against the Bulldogs. In the lead-up I lost count of the number of family, friends and radio commentators who spoke as if we’d already won the game.

The Tigers were “back” after fighting wins over the Blues and the Saints, they all said. Which is why I was biting my nails as our train sailed past East Camberwell.

Like the partner of a serial cheat, I’d been hurt countless times. Too often my team had promised so much but delivered so little. How was I meant to believe them this time? Had they really changed? Had they seen the error of their ways and truly committed to giving us fans real hope? We were about to see.

The train crowd was relatively subdued. While 80 per cent of the passengers were Richmond supporters, they weren’t making much noise. Some stood quiet and alone, apprehension written all over their long-suffering faces.

Were they having flashbacks? My PW (personal worst) was in high school when we were beating Collingwood by almost 10 goals at half time and I made the mistake of stirring some Magpie fans from my school. Sure enough, they won.

As the train rattled on, we all knew what was at stake. If we beat the Dogs the Tigers would really be back in town and next week’s game against the Pies would draw 85,000. Lose and we’d be back to square one.

When we arrived at Etihad, level 3 was chockers but as usual the level 2 corporate area was almost empty. It seems the bandwagon doesn’t extend to corporate types, who only turn up to the big-ticket games. Wusses.

With the roof closed due to a 30-40 per cent chance of rain, the Tigers got off to the perfect start when Brett Deledio goaled on the run after 11 seconds. The Dogs quickly replied via Liam Jones, then Dustin Martin dobbed one on the run, followed by another goal to Jones.

Jack Riewoldt kicked his first from 25 and Shane Edwards goaled from a mark/free 20 metres out. Richmond was up by 20 points at the first change and moving the ball a lot better, but with nine behinds should have been further in front.

The Tigers were slightly more accurate in the second quarter, adding 3.4 to 1.2 for a 32 point half time lead. Luke McGuane kicked the first two and Chris Knights kicked his first for Richmond after marking 40 metres out. Cooney kicked the Dogs’ only goal on the run.

The Tigers were doing what they had to do and continued in the third quarter, when we often fall down. Richmond led, chased, tackled and answered every Bulldogs challenge. The Tigers kicked six, including four in a row, going into three quarter time with a match-winning 51-point lead.

I officially relaxed when we were 61 points up 18 minutes into the last quarter.

In the end it was a 67 point victory that could have been bigger.  Cooney and Jones provided the only Bulldog highlights while ours were many, including Lids and Martin dobbing glorious goals from outside 50.

As we sang our song for the third time in a row – the first time we’d opened a season with three wins since 1995 – several fans expressed sympathy for the Dogs. It seems like only yesterday they were saying the same about us.

It really is such a fine line between being eternal losers and having hope. Finally, after so much darkness, I can see some light at the end of the tunnel.

  

RICHMOND                           4.9    7.11   13.14   20.15 (135)
WESTERN BULLDOGS
        2.1   3.3     6.5       10.8    (68)

GOALS
Richmond:
Riewoldt 5, Deledio 3, McGuane 3, S. Edwards 2, Martin 2, Knights, Houli, Jackson, Tuck, Maric
Western Bulldogs: Jones 4, Cooney 2, Stevens, Griffen, Giansiracusa, Dahlhaus

BEST
Richmond:
Martin, Deledio, Cotchin, Houli, Maric, Morris, McGuane
Western Bulldogs: Cooney, Griffen, Jones, Morris, Wallis

UMPIRES: Stewart, Leppard, Kamolins  CROWD: 44,045
OUR VOTES Deledio (Rich) 3, Martin (Rich) 2, Maric (Rich), 1.

Comments

  1. Neil Anderson says:

    Cheryl.. Cheryl.. Cheryl
    I was hoping you would wait til tomorrow before I had to relive the exact details.
    Some of it of course is burned into my psyche…like your man Lids and that first goal. To make matters worse, I have do a report as well.
    I almost got some sympathy from the non-believer when she noticed the black cloud hovering above my head and realized my team had lost. I said almost.
    Wouldn’t life be easier if we were non-believers. You could travel to a match and not be a nervous wreck as you face a team you SHOULD beat!
    Congrats for today and take care of the Pies next week. My report if I can man up and write it, will be about backing the Tigers if the Dogs keep slipping behind.

  2. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Hi Neil,
    It was one of those days where I was just motivated to write this :-). It would be poetic if you backed the Tigers – if and when we see finals action – as the Dogs are my second team and I always follow them in the finals if they are there and we aren’t (which is often!). Let’s hope we both make it.

  3. Cheryl, Cheryl, Cheryl….I have told you many times before have faith! Though my hair is now greying with this have faith thought, due to 6, 5 year plans, I sense and smell optimism from punt rd all the way to overseas where I hastily set up my illegal computer feed to watch the game…and yes I was doing backflips in the lounge room!

  4. Saints, Dogs, Tiges. We’re all just crazy, aren’t we??!! Ooops, no, because the alternatives are Blue, or Black and White, or …

  5. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Hi Haje – I’ve never lost the faith! I turn up to games in Melbourne every week and never give up on my team. Those who stop going when we lose have no faith, and let me tell you there are plenty of those :-). It’s funny that in footy we are expected to follow blindly and never question what is obviously wrong with our clubs. Over the years I have done this and some people equate that with having no faith. I’m absolutely rapt with how the team is going and let’s hope the faith of many Richmond fans is repaid this year with some finals action. And Jim, you are so right. You’ve gotta be crazy to follow any of those teams :-).

  6. Hi Cheryl, tipped the Tiges, like how they are going, and you have to be crazy to follow football. We will all be nervous with you throughout the year, because that is how you support your team. Other than Hawthorn supporters who always assume their team will will (against often better judgement but they average a premiership every 5 years) , the rest of us know that we don’t know and hope is the only reservoir to drink from. Sainters, Doggies, we KNOW, we HEAR you, and I am not surprised both Neil and I are barracking for you guys. Have been for a couple of years. Love the boys on your team, the coach, and now the supporters. Go Tigers. Go Saints. Go Doggies.

    Yvette

  7. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Thanks Yvette. I always go for the Doggies in finals when we aren’t there, followed by the Saints and Geelong for some reason. I think we all want to see the Doggies and Saints get up again after only winning one flag. As long as it’s not against Richmond :-)

  8. Ali Yesilyurt says:

    Was that game Vs Collingwood circa mid to late 80’s? The game at Waverley Park? They came back after being down by a record margin at 3/4 time. Brian Taylor was playing for them. Michael Laffy (who?) was our full back. The memories.

  9. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Hi Ali,
    That game was definitely at the MCG as I remember being at the Punt Rd end near the cheer squad. It would have been 1977-79 but I can’t remember exactly when – I’ve blocked it out :-). Someone else might remember, which would be great.

  10. yes you certainly have kept the faith Cheryl and like me I hope and know if might be rewarded (in my lifetime!), thanks for sticking through us thick and very thin!

  11. Peter Fuller says:

    Cheryl,
    I haven’t consulted anything other than my (increasingly unreliable*) memory, but the game that it suggested to me was 1979. We were travelling to Canberra, and just had half an ear on the progressive scores. When we arrived at my Richmond-supporting mate’s place in Canberra, he was catatonic with how the day had unravelled.
    I’m wondering if you have managed to induce that youngster of yours who had given up going to games because of the letdowns of the past several years, to try again. That might be an indicator that the Tigers are really on their way.
    Good luck, anyway, you’re looking to be genuinely competitive this year. The Collingwood match should reveal quite a bit.
    * as that wonderful cricket humourist expressed it “a memory of great length but total unreliability.”

  12. Cheryl Critchley says:

    You too Haje. Hopefully we’ll be celebrating together before too long :-)

  13. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Hey Peter I think you’ve nailed that game. It would have been 1979 as I was in year 8 and the main Collingwood fan in question left school the day he turned 15 in early 1980 (I’m not joking). One day he and his mates threw my bag out of the train on the way home, as you did, and my autograph book turned up in a stolen car so the police called me up and gave it back, complete with graffiti by the thieves: “for sex in a water bed call this number…”. As for my kids, the oldest still comes to all the games with me but is threatening to change to Gold Coast if they beat us for the third time this year (“mum we’ve never beaten Gold Coast”/”they’re going to win a Grand Final before us”), the middle one is a swinging supporter but is not too excited yet by our three win and doesn’t care if she misses the Collingwood game, and the youngest has hated footy since day dot and still hates it. He has NEVER looked up and watched a game, although I did catch him tapping his foot to the Richmond theme song after the game on Sunday. As soon as I pointed that out he quickly stopped! So as you can see, even though we’ve won a few games I’ve still got some work to do :-).

  14. Rd 20 1978
    Rich 7.1 12.5 14.10 16.13
    Coll 1.1 5.1 11.5 19.9

  15. Cheryl Critchley says:

    That could be it too Noel. So may awful Richmond second halves to choose from :-). I tried to google it but didn’t have any luck.

  16. http://stats.rleague.com/afl

    Try this. You may find it addictive.
    I was at one of those games but can’t remember which one.

    Found the first game I went to in 1968 ftom this site.

    Cheers

  17. Cheryl
    I know you. Either personally or the supporter i am :) Just out of school, I remember going to every game in 1980 (except vs Saints in Sydney) with a dreadful sense of foreboding…if we lost i knew it; if we won, we were one game closer to the inevitable wheel nuts falling off. Even winning 11 in a row – every other team – the feeling never left. Even at half time in the GF i didnt believe we would truly win… Fast forward 33 years and the feeling is only multiplied by a factor of 10. I will steadfastly refuse to believe this is truly a new dawn until (hopefully) the sun is shining directly overhead. For now I will take my sons to the footy this week too and sit and bite my nails knowing that the pies will be too strong… You never lose faith, but sometimes yes you must postpone hope…

  18. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Milo that sounds very familiar but I can’t say I was that toey in 1980. I was a naïve 14-year-old who had seen my team succeed so wasn’t that nervous. I was for the Grand Final though. The thought of losing to Collingwood was awful! We watched it in the cheer squad and relaxed at about half time I think – but didn’t really think we had it until three quarter time. And Noel thanks for the link!

  19. Good to see Michael Laffy get a mention amongst the comments!

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