Round 17 – GWS v Richmond: My mother bats better than you

 

 

It’s a road trip! Well, not really.

 

We are hardly travelling in the finest traditions of Jack Kerouac’s iconic novel On The Road, where Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty traversed America several times between San Francisco, Denver and New York in beat up old cars and Greyhound buses.

 

For a start we are only going up to Sydney for a footy match. No old bombs or uncomfortable buses for us, we have decided to travel by plane, which hardly qualifies this as a road trip. The almost new Forester hire car is also very comfortable and a dream to drive through the tricky streets of Sin City, further stretching the metaphor.

 

Still, we did take a Jetstar flight and I did listen to Miles Davis and Charlie Parker on my Ipod during the plane trip so that must count for something, right?  Surely, these things alone qualify us as cool?

 

This trip is a combination of business, family time and pleasure. I have to catch up with clients. Our son lives in Sydney so it will be good to spend time with him. Our friends have two daughters and their partners who also live here and my football buddy has decided to join us so he too can visit a family member. He also makes time to ride a bike around Sydney, dressed in lycra. We have a great weekend getaway planned.

 

On Saturday, we make our way to Moore Park Golf Course where we have booked a foursome. It is so wonderful to walk around in trousers and polo tops in July and not feel cold. As the sun sets on another forgettable round on a gorgeous stretch of land, we pass up on the nineteenth hole so we can make our way to Spotless Stadium for the big game. By the time we park the hire car, the temperature has fallen alarmingly, so much so that my wife decides to line up at the Richmond merchandise stall to buy a hat. She comes back with a Premiers 2017 cap. Who knew that these were still available?

 

The last time we attended an event at this venue was during the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the Games of the New Millenium, when we were lucky enough to have seats at the Gold Medal Baseball Final between USA and Cuba. The Baseball field has been converted for Aussie Rules and it is now the Giants’ home ground.

 

I can still remember how busy these avenues were on those glorious evenings, when large numbers of sports fans from every country on the planet celebrated young athletes who were striving to be the best they could be. Nearly twenty years have passed and those Homebush Bay glory days are long behind us.

 

Tonight, a few brave souls walk the sterile steps between Stadium Australia and the smaller venues. A few cheers can be heard coming from the Netball venue, punctuating the night. A large crowd by GWS standards is assembling for what will be an important game between two genuine contenders for this year’s crown.  Sadly, even the VFL Grand Final last September attracted a much bigger crowd than the 14,456 that will turn up tonight.  Why does the AFL insist on wasting our money like this?  Surely Port Melbourne have a stronger claim to a seat at the biggest dance?

 

I have three wonderful memories of that Baseball game. Firstly, the final score became a chant that echoed around these avenues for hours after the game: “USA…cuatro…….Cooba……nada!”  Secondly, I sat a few rows behind a stunning young American lass whose choice of attire was a short dress made from the American Flag and thirdly, I learnt a little Spanish. Actually, it was only one phrase: “Mi madre bate mejor cue tú.”  Not surprisingly, on a recent trip to Spain, I never quite managed to weave this phrase into any conversation. I still haven’t managed it.

 

We take our seats behind the GWS cheer squad. They are at least twenty in number. Where is the brass band tonight?  Throughout the game, I think about how cute they look as they try to muster up some interest. The only surprise to me is that there appear to be more GWS scarves than I was expecting.

 

The opening is fast and furious and the Giants work hard to establish their ascendancy. They score several fine team goals in the first quarter and the Tigers are soon on the back foot. Their midfield is on top right from the first minute and Richmond’s is strangely flat. Cotchin misses an easy one right in front of us early, much to the merriment of the cheer squad.

 

Luckily for us, we have a Riewoldt and a Rioli amongst our assets. They keep us in the game and at quarter time we are not far behind.  It has been a typical Richmond game to this stage, we are just a bit behind and the pressure is building.

 

The other end of the ground must be the scoring end because the Tigers make up the gap quickly upon resumption.  Jason Castagna has packed the wrong kicking boots and he misses several opportunities to put the Tigers in front.  We go to the main break just a few points to the bad.  We actually hit the lead briefly but GWS wrest it back with the final goal of before half time. We had rushed around the golf course and I missed lunch, so I load up on carbs and salt at the main break. The good news is that Dusty is playing well.

 

In a tight and contested third quarter, Richmond continue to miss easy shots at goal, which seems to be the order of the day. Castagna is again right at the top of the list of culprits, he is having one of those games.  The third quarter belongs to Tim Taranto and Zac Langdon as they help their team open up a decisive break in this keenly-disputed game. Callan Ward, Dylan Shiel and Steven Coniglio control the middle of the ground.  The arena is smaller than the MCG and the Tigers can never seem to find the space they need to use their pace.

 

Have the Giants built an unassailable lead? Is nineteen points enough? Will they be able to hang on? What we do know is that the Tigers will come back and win the last quarter as they always do.

 

As expected, The Tiges give it everything in the last quarter. During the second half, both teams play wonderful football.  GWS surge ahead but the Tigers peg them back with classy passages of play. Without space in which to work, their prime movers are hampered but they give it a shot. When Toby Greene takes a solid mark and kicks truly from a difficult angle, the home team have their only goal for the last quarter but they have done enough to hang on and complete a hard-fought win. The Tigers head back to the airport, unbowed but nonetheless unrewarded. We resume our family weekend in Sydney.

 

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY  4.3   7.6   10.10  11.13 (79)

RICHMOND                              2.3   6.10   6.15  10.17 (77)

 

GOALS

Greater Western Sydney: Langdon 3, Kelly 2, Taranto 2, Greene 2, Griffen, Coniglio

Richmond: Rioli 3, Riewoldt 2, Caddy, Martin, Prestia, Nankervis, Short

BEST

Greater Western Sydney: Ward, Coniglio, Whitfield, Shiel, Davis, Griffen

Richmond: Martin, Lambert, Rioli, Grimes, Prestia, Short

INJURIES

Greater Western Sydney: Nil

Richmond: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Findlay, Hosking, Margetts

Official crowd: 14,456 at Spotless Stadium

About Joe De Petro

My favourite period in history began with the Summer of Love and came to a sad end with the birth of Disco. It was from 1967 to 1975. What was not to like in those days? The Grateful Dead, Creedence, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond and the mighty Tigers won Premierships every other year. It was a magical time!

Comments

  1. Peter Warrington says:

    i snuck to the dessert bar to get the daughter a quarter choctop (!) and i reckon it dropped 4 degrees in the 15 minutes that took me. spanner territory.

    how is Moore Park looking these days? you should give Royal Marrickville a chance to impress next time.

    in terms of the game, we were about 60% and it was almost enough. no dramas…

  2. Joe De Petro says:

    Moore Park was immaculate. We had a very enjoyable round. Royal Marrickville was on the list. The plan was golf on the Sunday but all the courses were booked out and we were lucky to get Moore Park on Saturday afternoon. Another ten minutes and we would have been finishing in darkness. Next time we will try to be more organised.

    I felt the same about the game. Their midfield was so dominant that we should have been blown away but nearly stole it. We all thought at 3/4 time that one goal for the third quarter would have swung the game our way but it never came.

  3. Rulebook says:

    Joe I ask is the Port Melbourne line just mucking around ? Is Greater Western Sydney the smartest spot to try and start up a side personally no it’s been based way to much on population than common sense and logic the point is tho there are way to many sides in Melbourne and that it is in reality a extended vfl not a real nat comp apart from that a enjoyable read

  4. Joe De Petro says:

    Hi, Rulebook. Its a throwaway line but a cheap shot from me nonetheless. I agree with you that there are too many sides in Melbourne. This line came from Preliminary Final weekend last year. I attended Richmond v GWS on the Saturday and the VFL Grand Final attracted some 20,000 paying customers on the Sunday. I also read somewhere that GWS sold less than 3,000 tickets to the Prelim. The irony was not lost on me. In terms of fan support, Port Melbourne, and for that matter, probably Norwood, Central Districts and Claremont, amongst several others, have stronger claims to a seat at the AFL table than GWS and GC, in my opinion.

    My view is that the AFL is the Premier Football competition and it follows that only the strongest clubs belong in the AFL. If it was up to me I would have about six Melbourne clubs and about six interstate teams. There would be no need for equalisation drafts or and other nonsense, all those clubs would pay their own way and retain the best players in their states. And, if they can’t, someone who can would be waiting.

    If you look at the team lists, about half the players are Victorian so about half the clubs should be in the comp. SA and WA produce enough players for at least one team each, as did Tassie before the AFL marginalised them.

    The AFL has come out of the VFL trying to keep all their clubs going but, in reality, all they have achieved is a hybrid competition. Previously successful clubs like Richmond, Collingwood and now Carlton have been sacrificed to expand the competition and to support smaller Victorian teams. The reality is that only a few Melbourne teams belong in the AFL, and only a few other teams from other parts of Australia should have joined them. Even clubs like Adelaide and WC are constructs, the stronger SANFL and WAFL clubs should have been playing in the comp. Having said that, these two clubs now exist and represent their States quite effectively and have earned their places.

    90,000 Richmond fans paid for Prelim finals tickets last year and the AFL sent $20m plus up to Sydney to support GWS. There is a fair chance that gate receipts from this game alone was about $20 mill. Who was the joke on?

    To me, this is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    I’d be interested in your views on this.

  5. Rulebook says:

    Joe agree with you completely the comp is a expanded vfl not a real national comp and then teams such as GWS added purely and totally on population not on a football common sense perspective.Brisbane start as a club on the Gold Coast it fails completely and is relocated to Brisbane what in the hell the afl do put another side there pure and total incompetence

  6. Stainless says:

    Joe
    To be fair, the AFL had a model of a competition with less Melbourne clubs but they wore so much flak after sending South to Sydney, trying to broker mergers and then sending Fitzroy to the wall that they wimped out. The current 18-team competition is too big but if you were making a call right now on which teams to cull, I don’t think they’d all be Melbourne-based.
    BTW – someone made a wisecrack to me that the reason Richmond lost on Saturday is that they were spooked by playing in front of such a small crowd!

  7. Joe De Petro says:

    Thanks, Rulebook. Good to know we are more or less on the same page in the traditional states. Yeah, let’s put a team on the Gold Coast for the TV ratings, so people in Queensland can NOT watch AFL every week instead of not watching it every fortnight. Build it and they will come only works int he movies.

    Yeah, that is my recollection too, Stainless. And I agree re who would go. I like that wisecrack. My mate got a text message from a Collingwood supporter friend 30 secs after the game on Saturday night suggesting that Richmond can’t play away from Melbourne. He texted him back on Sunday suggesting that Collingwood can’t even play in Melbourne.

  8. Jarrod_L says:

    Joe, it’s easy to say cut Vic teams to six, but unless you’re offering the Tigers up as a sacrifice, the words ring hollow. I say that as a Richmond member too.

  9. Joe De Petro says:

    Absolutely, Jarrod. I am as guilty of the not in my backyard mentality as anyone else. having said that, I still stick to the notion that the AFL is the premier competition and there should be no room for teams that cant attract a crowd, whether it be at the venue, on TV or both. Tigers attract a crowd, always will.

    Cutting teams that are not viable may lead to a stronger competition and secure the survival of those that remain.

  10. Graeme Graham says:

    The AFL could be like the A League, NBL or BBL and start a fresh with no previous affliation. If they did that we could have
    2 in SA, (called Adelaide & ?, maybe Elizabeth)
    2 in WA (called the Perth and Fremantle)
    Brisbane
    Sydney
    Hobart
    Canberra
    Geelong
    and 5 in Melbourne, called Central, North, East, West and South.
    Have new mascots and then would be closer to a national competition.

    But that is never going to happen as the AFL is too invested in its supporters, tradition and history, which is why it has being a succesful competiton since 1897. The AFL is not an extension of the VFL it is a renamed product. Unless you start afresh you cannot tell supporters of 4 Melbourne clubs they are no longer required. Imagine telling the least succesful clubs like St Kilda, Footscray, North and Richmond you are no longer in the AFL. Luckily the AFL believes in its orginal clubs and are not bowing to the uneducated opinions of sooks from Perth and Adelaide who think they have a certain right to have everything handed to them.
    If any clubs need to leave it is GWS and Gold Coast money is wasted there for Demetriou dream project. The Melbourne clubs though should not be put of out of existence unless we start the whole thing again.

    Port Melbourne and Williamstown would be good additions to the AFL though :)

  11. Joe De Petro says:

    Thanks for the comment, Graeme. The AFL is invested in clubs with fans, I agree. It’s just the investment in clubs without fans that I find annoying.

  12. Start the competition from scratch? Putting aside the “metrics” which blow all the other sports out of the water, the greatest differentiation we have is a continuous history going back to the late 1800s, clubs with a continuous history going all the way back to 1859-1860, playing jumpers with a design which are amongst the very oldest in the world.

    Seriously, who on Earth would ever advocate getting rid of the most precious part of the game?

  13. Joe De Petro says:

    Thanks for the comment, Joey. Fans and history are important. That is why I struggle with the AFL clubs.

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