Round 6 – North Melbourne v Richmond: Banging on about the Tigers

Banging on about the Tigers.

 

It’s a sad day when you travel to Hobart for a big game and the highlight is being able to bang on the fence.

But it was actually the highlight.

The tried and true method of putting the opposition off while kicking for goal has been a thing of the past in Melbourne for about 10 years, since electronic fence ads became standard.

Instead of a loud metallic thumping sound, players’ and fans’ senses are now assaulted by LED lights flashing faster and brighter than The Strip in Las Vegas.

But Blundstone Arena in Hobart, where Jess, Bec and I travelled to watch Richmond take on North, still boasts the old metallic fences perfect for thumping. And boy did they get a workout by Richmond Cheer Squad members who needed to take their frustrations on something.

Watching the Tigers capitulate – again – to the Roos (last year they came from 36 points down at half time to win comfortably) was soul destroy for the diehards who had trekked down south with black and yellow coursing through their veins hope in their hearts.

That morning, Melbourne airport resembled Punt Rd Oval as hundreds of Tiger fans packed onto planes, proudly decked out in their club’s colours. One woman even had the word ‘Tigers’ shaved into the side of her cropped haircut. No-one thought it was strange.

An unspoken connection ran through the crowd. Yep, our team had started the season poorly, but maybe this was our day and Jack would kick six or seven at his old home oval. Our season would then be back on track.

When we arrived, Hobart was abuzz. Salamanca market was packed with Richmond fans enjoying its gourmet treats and buying resin-encrusted spiders for little brothers while killing time before the first bounce. Melbourne types expecting blizzard-like conditions were pleasantly surprised when the temperature remained in the teens and relatively balmy all day. No need for the ski jackets and gloves we’d all bought.

By the time everyone made it across the river to Bellreve in packed free buses and taxis, causing unusual traffic chaos in a city not used to 16,000 people in the one spot, the stage was set for an epic contest. Both cheer squads were well prepared and local Tiger, Jess, had welcomed us with made a hand-made material sign reading “Tassie loves the Tigers”.

As an added bonus, the food was even cheaper than this year’s reduced MCG prices for many items – just $3.50 for hot chips, $3 for a Chiko Roll (yes they still exist), $1 for a dim sim or potato cake, and $5 for a huge egg and bacon roll with two pieces of cheese.

My sister Maree, a Carlton fan who moved to Hobart with her Richmond-fan husband Dave seven years ago, was like a kid in a candy shop when she discovered $6 plastic goblets of Wolf Blass cab shaz with their own cover – a bit like the orange juices you get on a plane.

The atmosphere was also very 1980s with plastic seats you’d find in a school classroom and plenty of standing room where the only way to improve your view was to stand on your Dad’s six pack (although standing on plastic shiraz goblets was not very practical) It was also back to the future and felt a bit like the old Moorabbin or Junction Oval as both teams ran out – except for the funky new version of North’s theme song that threw us all for a minute. Sounded more like something you’d hear in the Espy.

The first half produced a close but not very high standard contest as both teams slogged it out goal for goal. At one point thick, black smoke began billowing up from behind one of the stands when a gas bottle caught on fire in the Roos BBQ Box, forcing it to be evacuated. A chef was also taken to hospital with burns.

It was about the only spark Richmond fans witnessed all day and after half time it was same old, same old from a Tiger outfit that saves up its most disappointing efforts for games when its fans deserve much better and in this case in a state where the club has a long and proud history of superstars like Royce Hart and Richo.

The likes of Thomas, Higgins, Goldstein, Harvey, Cunnington, Zieball and Petrie took us apart in the third quarter – just like they did last year. Richmond continued to chip the ball round with not much skill, which allowed North to repeatedly score from turnovers. The Tigers were uninspiring, with Martin, Miles, Edwards and Grimes among the few who could hold their heads up.

The players didn’t deserve it, but those Richmond diehards stayed until the end – cheering, supporting and refusing to give up. Like Rusty, who got the cheer squad going towards the end with his “If you love Richmond stand up” chant. “We love the Tigers,” he yelled, loyal to the end.

But most of us were just dejected and found it hard to find too many positives in a season that had started with so much promise – and even talk of a top four finish – but had turned so quickly to chicken poo at two and four.

The only genuine highlights for Richmond fans were speccies by Morris and Chaplin – and the fence banging.

Sigh.

I’m with the woman who had this to say during the last quarter. “It’s very familiar this feeling isn’t it?”

 

NORTH MELBOURNE   3.2  6.8  13.10  16.13  (109)
RICHMOND                    2.1  5.8   6.11   10.14   (74) 

GOALS
North Melbourne: Thomas 5, Higgins 3, Harvey 2, Nahas 2, Brown, Wright, Petrie, Waite
Richmond: Riewoldt 3, Miles 2, Martin, Maric, Morris, Edwards, Chaplin

BEST
North Melbourne: Petrie, Thomas, Harvey, Goldstein, Jacobs, Ziebell, Wright
Richmond: Miles, Martin, Edwards, Grigg, Riewoldt

INJURIES
North Melbourne: Jamie Macmillan (Achilles) replaced in selected side by Ben Jacobs
Richmond: Ben Griffiths (concussion)

SUBSTITUTES
North Melbourne: Lachlan Hansen replaced by Ryan Bastinac in the final quarter.
Richmond: Ben Griffiths replaced by Nathan Gordon at quarter-time.

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Nick Foot, Simon Meredith, Jacob Mollison

Official crowd: 16,131 at Blundstone Arena

Comments

  1. Tony Robb says:

    I feel for you Cheryl
    There is plenty of room on the Giants’ bandwagon but filling up quickly after yesterday’s win over the premiers. If Carlton lose today you will see the bonfire from Melbourne
    Cheers
    Tony

  2. Debbie Hall says:

    Great read, thanks Cheryl! You brought back so many memories of times gone by.
    The mind boggles how we can be soooo bad!
    Time for some changes both on the field and in the box. Just who is pulling the strings? Dimma supports Ty, then drops him. Is someone overruling the Coach?

  3. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Thanks Tony and Debbie. It was a fun trip but the footy let us down yet again. I was on the Doggies’ wagon until last night. What a mixed up season so far!

  4. Mark Duffett says:

    Interesting local observations, Cheryl. The powers that be at Bellerive (Cricket Tas et al) will be mortified to read that the ground they spent so much money on so recently comes across so old-fashioned.

    Alas, the Tiger continues to be extinct in Tasmania.

    Good to see they gave Tasmanian umpire Nick Foot the gig.

  5. Cheryl Critchley says:

    That’s interesting Mark as I was being totally complimentary!! It still had the character of the old grounds, which can only be a good thing. i’m sure the corporate facilities are up to date but the rest of the ground had the feeling of Geelong or even the Junction Oval in the 1980s. Probably the main reason for this was all the standing room.

  6. matt watson says:

    Cheryl,
    I vicariously feel your pain.
    My grandparents (rip) followed the Tigers.
    Several cousins follow Richmond too.
    But, as a North fan, I’m happy with the win.
    I feel sorry for Damien Hardwick as the pressure builds.
    Your story has inspired me to get to Tasmania soon for a game.
    Cheers

  7. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Thanks Matt. You won’t be disappointed if you go down. The only problem is getting into and out of the ground as it’s a residential area not used to so much traffic. People were waiting ages for buses afterwards.

  8. Andrew Starkie says:

    Cheryl, the third term was painful – even for me. 10 inside 50s, 7.2 scored, most from turnovers. I felt for every Tiger fan. The club doesn’t deserve you.

  9. Andrew Starkie says:

    I’m writing a piece on this game and i am pretty critical of the Tigers. Hope you don’t mind.

  10. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Thanks Andrew. Go for it. You’ll probably provide a good objective opinion :-)

  11. Mark Duffett says:

    Indeed Cheryl, talking to a bloke at work today it sounded like the Metro bus people dropped the ball pretty badly for this game. This is odd as it was known to be a near-sellout well ahead of time, and they usually do a pretty good job.

  12. Cheryl Critchley says:

    I had to take my daughters to the pub and we didn’t get back to the city until after 6pm. We ended up getting a taxi.

  13. Andrew Starkie says:

    have never been accused of being objective before Cheryl.

  14. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Well there’s a first time for everything Andrew :-)

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