RICHMOND 2010 REPORT CARD

The story is far from gloomy at Punt Road.  Walking from the ground after the Round XXII loss to Port Adelaide the Long Suffering Punt Road Faithful were in full throat as they punched the air to cries of Yellow & Black.  The Tiger Army was on the move again.

We started off as the Competition whipping boy but by season’s end were being hailed as the new excitement machine.  Five of our wins came in a six-week purple patch. The coaching staff had instilled Self Belief in the Playing Group and Jumping Jack Riewoldt was heading the Coleman count.  For the record, we rolled two teams playing off in the 2nd week of September – Sydney & Fremantle, fell frustratingly short of dealing a death blow to Hawthorn’s season and knocked Adelaide out of September Contention.

By Round V one of the bookies had paid out on Richmond Wooden Spoon bets as a publicity stunt.  The opposition was doubling our score with monotonous regularity and we were being compared to Fitzroy before their demeaning shift to Brisbane.  Then came Round VII – Hawthorn.  The Mayblooms were performing nearly as poorly as The Tiges.  We fell a tantalizing three points short in an error-riddled game; a desperate Mitchell tackle dragged down Tucky when he was streaming across the fifty, dead in front.  To make sure he cleared the waiting pack he’d taken just one step too many.  We told Hawthorn to get back across the River; that they’d got out of jail again as we had to be told what a happy team they all were at Hawthorn.  Losing is crap, but we’re hardened by that sort of character building at Richmond.  (That’s how we saved the Endangered Species remember)  But the signs were there; we’d been competitive at last.  There was a feeling we’d turned our season around.  There was a hint of what we were about to unleash.  The reward for the Faithful was coming.  In the next seven games we won five and the weekends offered hope for the Tiger Supporters, and just reward for those who bet on the net.

Where had the improvement come from?  Jumping Jack followed up his four majors in the wet against Port with 10 on the Big Stage against the Hapless Eagles and was the talk of the Football World.  Newman & Deledio were leading a tight, rebounding defence.  Thursfield & Moore were back to their best again.  Man mountain Angus Graham was holding his own in the ruck and debutant Dusty Martin – stiff to miss the Rising Star – was providing the much needed support for Trent Cotchin around the packs.  Tucky was back to his enigmatic best, burrowing into packs, turning up unexpectedly at contests.  Francis Jackson provided midfield grunt and Matty White’s pace provided space.  Andy Collins was proving more than a handy foil alongside Jumping Jack.

But where the coaching staff should take the deepest bow is the form of Daniel Connors & Mitch Morton.  These two had been out of favour and out of form.  They both finished the season like a German band and look 10-year players.  Shane Edwards and Jake King are another pair who have blossomed under Coach Hardnose and his crew.  Once a loose defender, they turned Jake into a dangerous, lurking forward.  To watch him drop the silly stuff makes you wonder what he was being told before, eh?

But the highlight of the season would have to have Ben Cousin’s farewell.  Only at the club for two seasons, he was given a hero’s send off at Docklands.  He embraced the Spirit of Struggletown and the Faithful took him to their hearts.  Never the dynamic force he was in his heyday with the Eagles, he nevertheless gave his all for Richmond and we loved him for it.  When you think that Bartlett, a five-Flag player, walked out of the club in a huff, and Sheedy teased us with a prodigal return all the time he was out at Whingy Hill, Ben’s short sojourn was all the more memorable.  And all the more indicative of a new era.

Then there’s the promising form of the likes of Troy Taylor, all the way from the banks of the Todd River, a lithe and nibble utility player who debuted in Round XXII.  You could feel this lift the Tigers.  With Post, Astbury, Webberly, Farmer, Nason & Vickery all demonstrating that they have the will to improve, the Richmond list looks in reasonable shape.

It would have to be expected that Tiger fans will be saved the groan inspiring performances of McMahon & Tambling next season, and the Football Department may have identified one or two others for de-listing.  Rance & Polo’s names spring to mind.

We didn’t get on free to air much, but how many of us have kept the Sydney game on the hard drive and replay it whenever we need a lift?  You name the Final Stanza highlights.  Which was your favourite?  Collins being KOed by LRT only to come back and kick two match winning goals?   Ben Griffiths cutting off Rhyce Shaw’s ill judged kick-in and calmly nailing the goal from the boundary line?  Moore’s pack mark in defence to repel a Sydney attack?  That heart stopping moment, with the clocking ticking down and the ball with Tambling at halfback?  White’s run to take control of a wide ball in the centre that would have otherwise fallen to Sydney.  Likewise Farmer, showing bristling pace across the face of the charging pack to scoop another loose ball that would have given Sydney a direct avenue to goal.  Dusty Martin, as he had all year, making something from nothing when wrestled the ball to himself and snap from a scrimmage in the pocket?  Then there was Jack’s lazy five on the day.

The lowlight of the season would have to be the losses to Carlton & Essendon.  Collingwood are on fire, so there was no shame in that loss, but to be thrashed by a couple of teams who from any angle are well ahead of themselves was galling, especially the Whingy Hill basket cases.  To humiliate these two pretenders has to be our target for Season 2011.

Losing to North & Melbourne in the 2nd half of the season also put our year in perspective and suggests there’s going to be a bottleneck of improving sides between us and September.

While the Tigers got a bit of help from the opposition in a couple of their wins from woeful kicking on goal, they themselves were surprisingly accurate.  And as much as BKIBF, good kicking is good football.  But the best thing about these 2010 Tigers was that they never weakened till the final siren had gone.  This was all the Faithful had ever asked of their Boys.  And at last they were getting it.  With a good administration under Benny Gale, and the new clubrooms and refurbished oval ready for next season, look out.

Summing up the season the Coach said not to get carried away; we finished 15th, the same as last year.  But there’s never been a happier, more up-beat 15th in the history of The Game.  And that’s due in no small measure to the aforesaid Coach Hardnose and his team.  He tells it as it is and he has the Boys and the Faithful behind him.  He’s developing a list and a young leadership group to mould into an era.  He admits he is learning on the job, and at times it shows, especially in defensive play, but this is indicative of a young side.  To see him standing on the back bench of the dugout, earphones in place or around his neck, is an inspiration to TLSPRF and to the players.  This is a general who leads from the trenches.

They won half their games in the 2nd half of the season, which, it should be pointed out, they did in their penultimate season under Wallace.  But this time it feels different

As the Late Great Living Legend, Captain Blood, would have told Lou & Woofa – The Tigers are BIT

About John Mosig

I'm an Aussie Rules tragic who can remember, as a four year old, shaking the hand of Captain Blood in the rooms just before he ran out onto the ground after half time, as my Old Man slipped him a packet of under-the-counter Craven A cork tipped. Now it's my turn to take my grandson Ben through the ritual of character building that is the journey through PUNT ROAD to the outside world.

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Done in your inimitable style as always JM.

    I look forward to my Blues disappointing your lads again next season (fingers crossed). :)

  2. Blues v Tigers? Probably open the Season again. Always a highlight, but too often a low light for Punt Road. We live in hope at Tigerland JB. We live in hope.

  3. I went to York park that horrid night that hawthorn did the Tigers in the NAB Cup. I didn’t think Richmond would win a game for the entire season.

    But! Not to be one to let 30 years of misery get in the way of a little hope, I answered the call to arms. Still without a win I joined up as a foundation member of the new Social Club, & now look forward to spending some well earned coin at THOF Social Club bar post home games, during what should be an exciting era for the beloved Tigers.

    In my line of work Location Location Location is important. Sorry Mr Maguire, the bar codes just don’t quite have it :lol:

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