AFL Round 3 – Western Bulldogs v Richmond: Frustratingly Frustrating

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS versus RICHMOND
1.45pm, Saturday, 5 April
Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

 

Cheryl Critchley


Following Richmond is more frustrating than trying to get the AFL to admit it has ever made a mistake. In short, both will do your head in.

We also learned a big lesson at this game – don’t combine what should be a pencilled-in win with a birthday treat city hotel stay for your daughters. If you lose, which the Tigers were destined to do, your weekend is ruined by a triple dose of grumpiness.

After falling over the line against Carlton following yet another second half fade-out, Richmond fans were entitled to think their team would at least be competitive against the Bulldogs, who were winless after two games.

Most experts had also predicted that the Tigers would follow their rare 2013 finals appearance with at least another and possibly a top four finish. But Richmond fans know better. This actually made Jess, Bec and I nervous, very nervous, as we boarded the tram from Vic Market to Etihad.

Bec was so unenthused that she wanted to return to the hotel room. “I hate going to the footy,” she complained. After literally waiting her whole life for a final, only to see her team capitulate to the Blues, could you blame her?

No Richmond fan worth their salt wants to enter a game as favourites. And sure enough, in the first half of this game, which we watched from the nosebleed section after refusing to pay $52 for me and $15 each for the kids to sit on level 1 under the new variable pricing system, the Tigers were pathetic.

The Bulldogs, to their credit, came out firing. Trent Cotchin kicked the first goal in the first minute, but the Dogs then dominated, kicking the next four through Liam Jones, Stewart Crameri, Adam Cooney and Jones again, before Dustin Martin stemmed the flow after crumbing and snapping.

Lin Jong dobbed another for the Dogs to give them a well-deserved three goal-lead at quarter time. Richmond was looking very ordinary and Jack Riewoldt would not trouble the statisticians until the second half of the second quarter.

It was more of the same after quarter time, with Richmond scoring the first goal through Ben Griffiths only to see the Bulldogs, who were playing with much more system and purpose, dob the next four through Shaun Higgins, Luke Dalhous, Lin Jong and Lachie Hunter. The Tigers looked tired and out of sorts as they entered the long break 37 points down.

Apart from Cotchin, few Tigers could hold their heads up. Their first half was almost as frustrating as watching the AFL trying to justify the new variable pricing system, which was snuck in the back door and saw general admission prices rise by up to 100 percent. Fans were also forced to book for big games at mostly inflated prices.

When the AFL faced an outcry over ordinary crowds in Melbourne for the first few rounds, partly led by the new AFL Fans Association, it resorted to more spin than a troupe of pirouetting ballet dancers.

AFL boss Andrew Demetriou’s explanation that only 62,000 had turned up to the Richmond-Carlton game because half of the potential 122,000 AFL, MCC, club members and ticket holders were “no-shows”, left everyone scratching their heads. Why has this “no-show” business never been an issue before?

And this game drew 31,724 to a stadium with a capacity of 53,000. It was clearly never going to be a blockbuster. Yet the AFL had classified it as an A-Game with limited general admission. What the?

But I digress… (with good reason, I hear Richmond fans say).
The Tigers finally started to claw back during an exciting third quarter, booting six goals to two, including Nathan Gordon’s second career goal near 10-minute mark. Riewoldt also awoke, taking a specky and kicking two goals towards the end of the quarter.

Things were looking up, that is until the Etihad fish and chip shop charged us $15 for two cardboard buckets of lukewarm chips. Never again, birthday treat or no birthday treat. Meanwhile, at the last break the Dogs led by 15 and the Tigers were in with a sniff. Could we get up? Of course not.

Riewoldt kicked the first two goals of the last quarter to slash the deficit to three points, before Daniel Giansiracusa and Jones steadied for the Dogs. Tyrone Vickery then kicked truly from a tight angle and Griffiths dobbed a beauty from 50 on an angle, before Crameri answered for the Dogs at the 21 minute mark.

But Grigg goaled on the run and then Riewoldt converted after a strong mark to put the Tigers in front for the first time since early in the first quarter. But, sure enough, after some desperate scrambling by both sides, the Doggies lunged forward to a contest between Gia and Brandon Ellis, who gave away a silly free in front of goal on a slight angle.
Bang. Game over. Dogs by 2.

It was a wonderful and well deserved victory for the Bulldogs, who played better footy and showed poise under pressure. As for us toothless Tigers, we trudged back to our fancy spa suite in no mood to party and pondering yet another season that promised so much only to collapse in a heap.
For us, following Richmond is a bittersweet experience with the so-called sugary bits laced with artificial sweetener. It promises so much, only to leave a nasty after-taste.

 

But of course we love them anyway.

Sigh.

*Cheryl Critchley is a volunteer with the AFL Fans Association, which you can find at www.aflfans.org and www.facebook.com/aflfans and @fansAFL [Getting good traction and certainly worth a look – Ed]

 

 

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS: 5.4 9.5 11.9 15.10 (100)
RICHMOND:                    2.4 3.4 9.6 15.8 (98)

 

GOALS

Western Bulldogs: Jones 3, Crameri 2, Giansiracusa 2, Jong 2, Cooney, Dahlhous, Higgins, Hunter,  Macrae, Stringer.

Richmond: Riewoldt 4, Griffiths 2, Vickery 2, Cotchin, Gordon, Grigg, Jackson, King, Martin, Petterd.
BEST

Western Bulldogs:  Macrae, Boyd,  Minson, Murphy, Jones, Giansiracusa.

Richmond: Cotchin, Jackson, Morris, Conca, Martin, Riewoldt
UMPIRES: Fisher, Stevic, Harris.
CROWD: 31,724.
OUR VOTES: 3 Macrae (Western Bulldogs) , Boyd (Westeern Bulldogs) 1 Cotchin (Richmond).

 

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Cheryl what the AFL is doing to the fans is disgraceful and it is good that , Victorians who are the best supporters of sport world wide have stopped being sheep and are voting with there feet re lack of attendance wise . Cheryl spot on re Andy D stop giving us spin bullshit and actually listen most of us can’t afford a bank lone to go to the game ! Food wise the cost is again rediculous , Luke Reynolds bought a can of soft drink at the g 5 bucks ! The reality of Richmond is had very few injuries last year and lack depth the last few picked are not good enough . Thanks Cheryl love your passion !

  2. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Thanks Malcolm. It is all pretty frustrating, especially as a Richmond fan!! The AFL says it can’t control food and drink prices but someone in business could probably tell us whether they could at least put conditions on tenders to limit gouging. As for the crowds, at 62,000 last night’s Essendon-Carlton game was almost 20,000 less than Essendon’s home game against Carlton last year. I think variable pricing and scheduling for TV are tipping many fans over the edge. Not to mention poor form by teams like Richmond and Carlton… :-(

  3. coconnor says:

    Ten seconds more: Thomas passes, Riewoldt marks, Tigers (underservedly) win. We are all victims of circumstance.

  4. Cheryl Critchley says:

    But we should not have been in that position in the first place, having allowed the Dogs to be 37 points up at half time :-(

  5. Cheryl

    We’ve played three sides who are unlikley to feature in September, been ahead in the final Q of each at some stage, for 1 win from 3. We’ve had a soft draw that we could have exploited, worrying signs now as we pay finals heavyweights or contenders in three of the next four rounds..

    Hope the hotel room was at least comfy and you cleared the place of complimentary shampoos and soaps to get something from the day. Very disappointing result.

    Agree on prices, a joke. I think the people that run stadiums also run airports, hence the unbelievably discrepency bween their prices and real life.

    If that was classed an A game for ticketing, I’m a dutchman. Keep your receipt and ask for a refund

    Sean

  6. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Hi Sean, we did get some shampoos and a couple of soaps so I guess we are ahead in that sense :-). I agree regarding the refund – can we go to consumer affairs and claim false advertising??? :-)

  7. Luke Reynolds says:

    Cheryl, well done for not paying to sit on level 1. The AFL’s price structure is a joke. The crowds across ALL games over the weekend are testimony to that.
    As a Pies fan, Friday nights game is a huge game for us both. All the best!

  8. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Thanks Luke. They sure have got the spin doctors out at the moment though! First they tell everyone they are only expecting 55,000 to Essendon-Carlton, so we are expected to think 62,700 is a great crowd – for a game that was classified an A-Game ie expected to sell up to the top of level 4 with limited walk up seats!! And the same game last year drew 82.000! They can’t have it both ways. As for Etihad, how can a game that drew 29,000 last year in a 53,000 seat stadium possibly be considered a so-called A-Game. It is a joke.

  9. Luke Reynolds says:

    Very much a joke.
    The just over 63,000 that attended the Collingwood v Geelong game on Saturday night was very much below par for games between these two over the past near decade. And this was on a Saturday night, not a Thursday, Sunday or Monday night. The people are voting with their feet.

  10. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Yet somehow the AFL continues to spin these games as successful crowds! But I don’t think the fans are falling for it as we have literally hundreds of angry comments on the AFL Fans Association facebook page. Last year Richmond had three crowds of 80,000 plus in about the first eight rounds. At this rate we are unlikely to get one all year.

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