By Tony Hardy
I waited in line 13 years to join the Melbourne Cricket Club. The attraction was a walk-up spot on the wing for any MCG game, including finals, and far less pressure finding a seat. For this, I would sacrifice being in the outer among the football crazies, those who hurt ‘cause the game is important, rather than my new crowd who I suspected only hurt at the football when the sharemarket tanks.
I was accepted into the Members in 2003 and if you’re not ‘in’ the world’s most popular sporting club, ‘lovely’ is a word that best describes it. While I was wrong to think your average Member is a share lord cliche, it is true the Members is at the other end of the ground to the Richmond Grog Squad, metaphorically speaking. One is a place to bring your kids, the other is a place to make them. And after ten unremarkable years, this view has proved consistently correct.
Until August 9, Richmond V Brisbane.
The day began strangely enough. In order to publicise my latest book, Finding Jack Dyer, I handed out leaflets with my girlfriend, Beauty, and best mate Clyde, advertising 20% off to the Richmond supporters walking toward the ground. Hemingway didn’t hand out flyers for The Sun Also Rises, but I did because I sure ain’t no Hemingway, and felt the pressure any author would after 8 months of working on a project. My book needed to sell to justify taking so much time off paid employment. Thankfully our guerrilla marketing campaign went better than the previous week when we left the leaflets under the windscreen wipers in the MCG car park, only for a storm to strike just after three quarter time. Before the rain came, I’d hoped the Richmond people would get to their cars, see the flyer and think;
‘Unreal. I can save 20%!’
Instead, they splashed through the mud, hopped inside, switched their wipers on and were confronted by yellow and black mush that was smeared across their glass, back and forth, blocking their view.
But that was last week.
Today was sunny. I believe that a game of football is like an unopened 1.25 litre of Coke. There is a quantity of pressure that cannot be dispersed. Someone must suffer it and it better not be you. It’s a sort of pass the parcel game in that you gotta avoid it. Brisbane was five goals down at quarter time because the Tiges played lightly, confidently, as if free of the pressure. Brisbane turnovers created Richmond goals. Led by Cotchin, Richmond was a team of blissfully urgent, one touch footballers. Rance is class, Jackson reminds me of Jack Dyer, his hips the centre of all the power in the world. Tyrone Vickery was playing his best game, marking, wrestling, running and rucking, all without error, until he gave away a 50 metre penalty and upon being dragged, shaped up with Brisbane’s Leuenberger, as if to say;
‘Let’s take this to the carpark.’
At half time Richmond led 11.7 to 4.4. Eighteen scoring shots to eight. The margin was enough for me to turn to Clyde and predict a 100 point thrashing. Clyde nodded which proves stupid people like hanging out with each other.
In the third quarter Richmond found itself stuck with the parcel. Brisbane’s resurgence gave the three retro Fitzroy supporters sitting five rows back from me in the Members great confidence. One was dressed in London Cabby cap, tight stove pipe jeans, brown boots – the outfit of a software coder. Something upset the lad because twenty minutes into the quarter, he punched a sixty year old Tiger with a black moustache.
God I love a fight. Should be more of it in the Members. A forty-ish stocky woman pointed at Mr Fitzroy Dude and screamed;
Sensing his time was short, the Fitzroy dude punched the old guy again.
‘Oooooh’ went the crowd, surprised, and suddenly everyone was facing the wrong way. The game was forgotten.
There was a fight in the Members.
The woman didn’t wait for security. She attacked. Soon Fitzroy Dude was sprawled red-face over some seats, ruing his luck that he’d found the only female MCC member whose hero was Jean Claude Van Damme. Fitzroy Dude’s arm was twisted behind his back by this super-woman. He couldn’t move.
The thing is, Fitzroy Dude stole all the pressure. His citizen’s arrest coincided with the match losing its urgency, in spite of a three goal to nil third quarter by Brisbane. It was a match where the highlights were five rows behind, with the Richmond win confirming they would play finals for the first time since 2001.
The humiliated cool cat was taken away but strangely the pressure remained, like a disease looking for a new victim. It must have been picked up by Brisbane coach Michael Voss, who, when sitting in the team bus on the way to the airport, was suddenly more anxious than you’d think after a ‘respectable’ 23 point loss from home. Voss was sacked the following Thursday. Then the pressure moved on again. But to who?
Richmond 14.13.97 def Brisbane 11.8.74
3. Trent Cotchin
2. Tyrone Vickery
1. Dan Jackson