Round 1; emergency dental work, anticipation and Reality!

Thursday night football is not a family friendly timeslot. There’s kids with school the next day, stories to read and homework to be done. As such it was a ‘gently gently’ approach I took with my better half in regards to my attendance at a football match. It had been a rough week with late nights, emergency dental work, kids refusing to sleep and late night uni assignments, however I got the go ahead… I was going to the footy.

My club, Richmond, had enjoyed a fairly positive pre-season, but I knew from experience not to let that be a guide. As a kid I have memories of making the 1993 Fosters Cup grand final, only to win a further four games for the year. I’ve adopted a somewhat sombre yet realistic ‘believe it when I see it’ approach to the Tigers and success.

Not to say that we weren’t a chance to roll the fancied Blues. It did seem as good a time to get them as any. Their defense was missing key personal and a few of their stars came into round one having interrupted pre-seasons. Yet to underestimate the Judd-led Blues was not a trap I was falling into. My first worry though was just getting to the game!

Running late, I decided to drive to the station and train it in. It was just one of those days, those weeks. Getting to Flinders Street at 7:30, I realised I would miss the opening bounce. Yet I was still just happy to be going. Jumping on a tram and following my twitter feed was how I ‘saw in’ season 2012.

The ball was bounced, I read. The MCG’s glow hovered teasingly in the Melbourne sky, pulling me closer. I soon was reading that Jarrad Waite was reported, the season just two minutes old. Some things never change, although this time it wasn’t at the expense of Luke McGuane’s testicles, as he wasn’t playing! Big Tyrone Vickery kicked the first major, from a supposedly soft free kick. I couldn’t make judgement, I was still stuck on the MCG-bound tram! Finally, the tram doors opened and I scampered through the eerily quiet parkland. I heard the roar of the crowd. Was that a hearty roar of the Richmond faithful or an expectant Carlton cheer?

After successfully fumbling for my ticket, I was in, and it was good to be back. It turned out the roar I had heard was a Tiger one, we were up two goals to none. Taking up my spot in a standing bay at the Punt Road end, I looked on only two watch the Blues kick three on end, one to a strong mark from the man in the umpires book, Jarrad Waite. Judd seemed to be instigating much of Carlton’s momentum. Against the flow however, some clever work by young star Trent Cotchin saw the ball land with little Robbie Nahas, who provided me with the first Richmond goal I would see in the flesh for season 2012.

The remainder of the quarter ebbed and flowed, each team holding their own, a wasted chance here or there. Carlton’s Chris Yarran seemed to be troubling Richmond with his pace and rebound off half back. I never heard the siren from where I was positioned, I just put two and two together when I saw the entire interchange benches enter the field of play. Either that or both benches were trying to rekindle the Percy Jones and Tony Jewell scuffle of old.

The second quarter became a festival of the minor score, a glorification of the fumble and an exhibition of players who were feeling the pinch after a pre-season full of half-paced matches, seemingly hanging for half time siren. It took until halfway through the quarter for a goal, and that too came from a mistake, a blunder, a clanger. Riewoldt capitalised on his opponents moment of misguided belief in his ability, yet this opening Richmond goal appeared to swing the momentum in Carlton’s favour. Go figure!

The poor old Tiges seemingly applied the tactic of gift wrapping goals for Carlton bit players in the goal square. Shudder. Dustin Martin kept the Tiges in touch with a great running goal, but Carlton looked to be well in control of the match, limiting Richmond to just one mark inside 50 to half time. So much for the pre-game hype surrounding Carlton’s fragile backline.

Carlton appeared to put the game beyond reach early in the third term, two quick goals seeing the margin out past five goals. Richmond heads dropped, on the field, in the stands. The Blues supporters were becoming increasingly cocky. If you’ve been on the receiving end of this, you know it’s not pretty. Three quick goals between Martin and Cotchin saw the Tiges begin to reel in the margin, and the Tiger fans begin to find some voice. To the observant football attendee however, the Carlton fans were hardly shaking in their boots.

The game ebbed and flowed once more, until Riewoldt, who had been well held and poorly delivered to, pounced on a loose ball in the forward pocket. Breaking a Chris Yarran tackle, Jack nailed a crucial goal, bringing the scores closer and providing some much needed spark to the Richmond boys. Before the night was done however, Chris Yarran would make the same forward pocket his own. But more on that later.

At the last break, I was pleased that we were back in the match, but felt far from confident that Richmond could actually win. The Bluebaggers appeared to have had an extra gear all night. But when Riewoldt ran into an open goal after some stirling work off half back, Cotchin again, the margin was reduced to less than ten points. Jack is one of those players who appears to infect the team with his enthusiasm. I even sensed Carlton fans begin to worry a little. A fight suddenly broke out in the crowd. It really got going. Several Carlton fans were led away from a predominately Richmond area. A Richmondite was also led away. A fellow Carlton supporter berated them. “Get back to the bloody suburbs!” he bellowed. Richmond and Carlton games, always a fight.

Distracted by the security guards, the pointing of fingers and the poor kids who had to witness grown men unable to control their emotions or actions, I suddenly became aware of the football match in progress. Richmond had fired it’s shot while Carlton, a likely top four side, had lifted a gear.

Now I had two teeth pulled during the week, (no, it’s not just an honour bestowed upon the Collingwood faithful) and watching the final 15 minutes of the match was much like that experience. It’s a blur to be honest, other than watching the classy Chris Yarran, whom I can’t help but like, thread a brilliant running goal from the same pocket he’d let Riewoldt break free from his grasp earlier. The Blue fans found their voice again, the standing room area transformed into a cacophony of Carlton voices singing that taunting theme song of theirs, which begins with a childlike “Na-naNa-naNa!” They really know how to rub it in.

The final siren sounded, though again I couldn’t hear it. A feeling of flat inevitability engulfed my conciousness as I trudged towards Jolimont station, the MGC glow holding none of the appeal it had just a few short hours earlier. The Tiges hadn’t been woeful, but equally hadn’t set the world on fire. We’ll win games. We’ll improve And then it hit me, it was still a school night, a Thursday! I couldn’t even console myself with the thought of a weekend just yet! Gee I hate the footy sometimes, but it’s bloody good to have it back!

 

Carlton 18.17 (125)

Richmond 12.9 (81)

Crowd: 78,285

About John Carr

First and foremost, I'm a Richmondite- 5th generation and dyed in the wool. I love the club, but also have a love for the game itself, and love to explore the cultural and social aspects of Australian Rules football. I am married with 4 kids, and also have a love of music, and run a small recording studio http://theholybootsfootballemporium.wordpress.com/

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    JC, it was a game that will be remembered for the Yarran goal, but there was a lot to like from many players on both sides. The Tiges have some beauties, but still need to plug a few gaps. How many gaps do Carlton still have? Still to be proved.

  2. Putting a lid on it already JB? This faux humility does not befit you and Mr Litza. To my eye all the Tiger ‘beauties’ were under 6 foot. Their big blokes wouldn’t make an impression on a rice pudding.

  3. John Butler says:

    Just stating the facts PB. Carlton have it all to prove.

    I think Jack R and Tyrone showed plenty last year. But Vickery is still young by big bloke standards. They’ll have much better games than this one.

    Not so sure about Maric.

  4. Carlton hasn’t entirely convinced me but they certainly had a gear that we didn’t the other night. As for Richmond’s talls, Vickery had a poor night after kicking the first, got his hands on plenty but kept fumbling. While Jack kicked 4, only one of these was from a mark….after the game had been decided. Agree that it was Richmond’s mosquito fleet that was strongest, Cotchin, Foley etc. but think Maric (Ivan) will be good value. But any midfield with C.JUDD is a hard one to combat….great ruckman or not.

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