Blame it on the Train

Like most footballing folk, I was captivated by Friday night’s game between the Tiges and Saints.

Again, like most people I spoke to, I had tipped St Kilda. However as the game went on I became caught up in the rollicking juggernaut of fervour that the

Richmond fans were generating. As the final siren sounded, the passion of their support was attacking my lounge room. It was hard to tell, but I swear they sang the song 6 or 7 times.

Suddenly, the ‘yellow and black’ cry took me back to another time.

The 1995 semi final against Essendon is one of but two finals victories for the Tigers since their last Grand Final in 1982. In front of over 88,000 fans, Richmond flew back into the game after half time to recover a five goal deficit and record a barnstorming win.

I was in the crowd on that day and a few aspects of the match stay with me: Scotty Turner flattening Gary O’Donnell, Paul Salmon struggling and being jeered by the fans (in what was his last game, in that period of service), Matthew Lloyd holding the forward line together as an 18 year old, a certain blonde midfielder called Matthew Knights keeping the Tigers in the game in the first half, and, of course, the fans belting out the song at the end.

Overall, not a nice day.

What was particularly disappointing personally, was that a certain streak ended that day.

For the preceding two years, my Dad and I had undertaken a pre-game ritual of parking in the Sofitel car park and walking through the Treasury gardens towards the MCG. We didn’t get to all MCG games, but through some quirky fate, we managed to be undefeated (in terms of the games we watched) via this approach for around 10-15 games.

Unfortunately, on the day of the Richmond semi final, our luck would run out.

Going into last night’s game against Melbourne, I was confident of ending a current streak. A losing one.

Over what I believe to be a 7-game run, the Bombers have not been able to salute when I get the train to Jolimont for the game. Of course, our record at the home of football has been particularly poor in the past few years, but we have managed to win a few when I have been in attendance. It just so happens that I had reached the ground through other means on those occasions.

This week, I had time up my sleeve, and had a few options in regards to both my transport and my pre-match drinks, but I settled on going straight from home and therefore via the good people at Metro Trains.

I knew what I was doing. I also knew we were playing Melbourne.

I arrived at the ground only minutes before the start and Mum, Dad and myself, once we exchanged greetings, briefly touched on the possibility that the game may be over as a contest by about the third quarter. It was a tad chilly and we were certainly not going to put our health at risk for the sake of some junk goals against The Dees.

As the game started, it seemed that Essendon was not quite ‘on’, but nor for that fact were Melbourne. I was confident that our not-so-good would be better than theirs, so I relaxed and waited for the victory to unfold.

Unfortunately, through a combination of poor kicking, fumbling, poor decision-making and all round lack of polish, the Bombers just couldn’t capitalise on having more of the ball.

I felt like I was watching an episode of Seinfeld from the final season. I knew what they were trying to do, and although I wasn’t really getting what I wanted, I was confident that eventually there would be a payoff if I just kept watching. Michael Hurley was the classic example of this. He huffed, he puffed, he bustled, he looked imposing, but then when he needed to deliver, he missed the mark. It was the AFL equivalent of Kramer’s bottle refund scheme.

As the match wore on, it was clear that Melbourne had a sniff and were going to be very hard to stop. The pasting that they have copped in the media was bound to have an affect at some stage, and although they fell short by a quarter against the Blues the week before, I was concerned that we didn’t have the finishing skills to put them away.

I’ve remarked to a few people this year that the main reason why the season thus far has been such an enjoyable one for Bomber fans is that our side is an extremely honest one. Unfortunately, this week was one where our honesty was matched, and we just didn’t have the goal-hungry, down-hill skiing silk which the Blues forward line is chock full of. Whilst we weren’t setting the world on fire, all we needed was a couple of players to run into an open goal or just nail a simple shot from 30 metres. Instead we had Davey, Jetta, Ryder, Hurley, Crameri….actually, pretty much everyone except Watson, falling over themselves.

The Dees on the other hand were tough, relentless and while certainly not polished, they managed to nail their chances and just keep coming.

With the final seconds running down, I glanced over to the MCC members and saw a tweed of deep navy and red jumping up and down. Whilst I’ve had very little sympathy for the Melbourne players or the club themselves in recent times, I know a few of their fans and they have been doing it tough. I’m not saying I was happy for them, but no fan deserves a 0-9 start.

Hopefully this loss will remind the Bombers, and their fans, of a few things. Firstly, we’re still not a good enough side at the MCG. Secondly, we haven’t played well in the wet for years and thirdly, we’re still at the stage where every win has to be earned. It’s no use being a 5 goal better team at the Docklands either. That didn’t do the Saints and Bulldogs any good in the end.

The three of us left our seats pretty quickly. Not much was said. As we got outside, they asked which way I was heading. I could barely mutter the words.

“To the train station.”

About Andrew Else

Andrew has self-reported to this site as a lifetime Essendon supporter. He also played local footy for Lara and Melbourne Uni Blacks.

Comments

  1. Peter_B says:

    Andrew, I am feeling similarly penitent. I was checking the Melbourne flight and accommodation costs during our third quarter this afternoon. I knew I was doing wrong, but I thought what harm can it do?
    If a presumptuous butterfly flaps its wings in Perth, it causes a downpour over the Gabba.

  2. Andrew – I was standing in the bar at the Wynyard football club in Tassie when their local boy kicked the goal that effectively got the Dees over the line – Colin Garland.

    They went slighty mad

  3. Andrew Fithall says:

    “Tweed” as a collective noun for Melbourne supporters. I like it. Next weekend they will be a “stem christie” of Melbourne supporters. Or perhaps a “gravity” of Melbourne supporters, as they come back to earth with a thud.

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