Round 8 – Richmond v Sydney: Seagulls, omens and the eleven hot dog thermos

 

FINALLY, THINGS GO RIGHT

RICHMOND versus SYDNEY
7.20pm, Saturday, 14 May
MCG

 

Unlike some, I kept the faith.

This received from a good friend Kevin on the day of the game: “Not going tonight. Given up”.

And this from my sooky husband who’d had enough after Richmond had lost six games on the trot: “OK this is the last game I go this year.”

But I felt different – just. As the dawn broke on what was expected to be the Tigers’ seventh loss in a row, this time to the rampaging Swans, I had a feeling.

Not confidence, but a tiny sliver of hope that maybe, just maybe, we were a chance. This feeling hadn’t surfaced at all yet in 2016; not even for the first game when we scraped home against the hapless Blues.

Nor did it appear before any of the six losses we’d had since; not even against Melbourne. The sense of impending doom was ever present.

Today it was different. I’d felt a slight shift after we played three good quarters against Hawthorn the previous week. The boys had put in and showed glimpses of what they could do.

And so I tweeted this to put it on the record: “I’m not confident, but if we’re going to have a massive upset this year it’ll be tonight … if Rance can pants Lance.”

The problem with having hope as a Richmond fan, however, is that we routinely have it shattered.

As the five of us walked into the MCG on an impossibly balmy May evening (Ben still hates footy but his mate Cale was going and we had 11 hot dogs in the Thermos, of which he downed five), I tried not to get too excited.

Even if we were competitive, the Swans were sure to outclass us in the end. How could a team coming off six straight losses possibly regain the confidence to beat a flag contender?

Most Richmond fans clearly felt the same.  The crowd was miserable. Our membership bay was half-empty and there were almost as many Swans fans among the 36,000 who did turn up.

Kevin had plenty of friends.

Early on it was clear that the Tigers had come to play. After a sluggish start they stuck with the Swans, despite Lance Franklin looking ominous.

Buddy dominated early and the Swans made the most of their opportunities, unlike the Tigers who kicked woefully in front of goal.

Yet, even with the Tigers trailing by 15 points during the second quarter, there was hope. Within minutes I received text messages from two friends saying we were going to win.

Brenda, a Geelong fan I hadn’t heard from for months, insisted the Tigers would get over the line: “I am psychic. You will win.”

Then another friend, Debbie, who was at the game, texted with great excitement: “BREAKING NEWS! We will WIN! I JUST GOT SHAT ON!!!!”

Turned out she’d been pooped on by a seagull three times, just before Richmond kicked three goals to steal a five-point half time lead. Apparently this is sign of good luck. Was it an omen?

In another twist of fate, Debbie found another splotch on her shoe during the third quarter. But was it enough to get us over the line?

Richmond fought hard, but with 7.15 at the last break and the Swans 18 points up, it looked like Sydney had done enough.

Then the sleeping Tiger awoke.

With five goals in the first five minutes, Richmond snatched back the lead and left the brave souls who had turned up stunned.

Their initial pessimism seemed well placed when Sydney hit back hard. When Kurt Tippett goaled with 8 minutes and 47 seconds to go, it was the Swans by 10 points.

Unlike previous weeks, the Tigers refused to give up. They pushed hard in defence, tackled, ran in numbers and responded in a way they simply hadn’t this season.

When Ben Griffiths sprinted down the field and booted his fifth with four minutes and 56 seconds left, it was five points the difference.

The next four minutes and thirty seconds were pure arm wrestle, with both teams fighting desperately for possession.

The Swans threatened to ice the game several times as they surged forward, only for desperate defenders, including Alex Rance, who kept Buddy goalless in the last quarter, to put their bodies on the line.

With just 20 seconds remaining, the ball was still in Sydney’s forward line. If ever there was a last roll of the dice, this was it.

Somehow, mid-tackle, Rance managed to put boot to ball and inched it forward. Nick Vlastuin then gathered and hastily kicked it towards the centre.

After what coach Damien Hardwick later described as “the bounce of God”, Jack Riewoldt found the ball in his arms and chipped it to Griffiths, who passed it to Sam Lloyd 48 metres out on an angle.

Seven seconds were left on the clock as Lloydy comfortably held the chest mark.

Siren!

Richmond fans literally shook in their seats and clung to their hair as the small forward took his time and calmly slotted it from fifty. The Tigers had won by a point!

I’ve never seen 20,000 people (almost half of those there were Swans fans) make so much noise. Six long weeks of complete failure erased with one glorious straight kick.

The Tiger faithful, without doubt the most faithful of all, had been rewarded with a win for the ages.

It was magic and showed why us fans should never give up.

And Brenda should buy a Tattslotto ticket.

 

RICHMOND      3.5   6.10    7.15   14.17   (101)                       
SYDNEY           
5.3   6.5      11.9   15.10   (100)            
GOALS
Richmond:
Griffiths 5, Lloyd 3, Riewoldt, Martin, Miles, Ellis, Rioli
Sydney: Franklin 5, Hannebery 2, Heeney, Towers, Hewett, Tippett, Lloyd, Jack, Papley

BEST
Richmond:
Griffiths, Deledio, Lloyd, Martin, Miles, Rance, Riewoldt, Edwards
Sydney: Franklin, Hannebery, Jack, Heeney, Tippett

UMPIRES: Stephens, Nicholls, Harris CROWD: 36,014 at the MCG
OUR VOTES Griffiths (Richmond) 3, Deledio (Richmond) 2, Lloyd (Richmond), 1.

BROWNLOW

 

 

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Comments

  1. Congrats on the win but not sure about the seagull luck, I was shat on by a few circling fiends and we lost.

  2. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    Cheryl,
    I was there with my daughter’s Tiger mates and I couldn’t believe it. I was high fiving strangers and singing the song like I barracked for them. Memorable night. Lloyd’s coolness under pressure…bottle that !!

  3. Sorry you didn’t have any good luck with the seagulls Dave. Maybe next time :-). And glad you got to experience such an exciting end to a game Phil. It was unreal!

  4. Well done Tigers and good on you for keeping the faith, Cheryl.
    Love the “if Rance can pants Lance” line.
    I thought Ben Griffiths showed great poise by chipping the ball over to Sam Lloyd rather than blazing away to the top of the square.
    I couldn’t believe how dead-straight Lloyd’s goal was given the immense pressure he was under.

  5. He sure did Pete. It was an amazing minute of football after six games full of mistakes and misjudgements. It was as if someone or something had finally decided to give us a break :-)

  6. yep. even this cranky one put the fatwa to one side and watched (from Sydney), partly to see how good the Swans kids really are and, because, like you, I just had a feeling.

    unfortunately at halftime the partner decided we would knock off the final episodes of Vinyl. so we did. so it was almost midnight when I got to the last 10 minutes. holy toledo. just frenetic. Rance was Dick Clay and Francis Bourke rolled into a better looking package. but, with the siren, I had to pause. I couldn’t stand it if we lost. I was glad it was Lloyd. but I walked around the (cold) backyard, pretending to look at Jupiter and Mars again. a full 15 minutes had passed and then I pressed play. never in doubt!

    I think I replayed the last 3 minutes and then the celebration about 10 times, and then bored the kids with it about 5 more times this morning. and then my mum, at lunchtime. tears in my eyes every time.

    the fog had lifted and my fatwa was over. not just because I wouldn’t mind if we only one one game every year as long as it was the Swans. no, it was because (a) this was one of the most exciting games ever; (b) one of the best comebacks ever; (c) everybody performed to character – Riewoldt a true leader; Martin bustling and ambitious, but flawed, perhaps the Mark Latham of AFL; Vlastuin a future Brownlower; Griffiths gently realising he is a giant; Rance just simply superb; Deledio pivotal but can’t kick for goal; Grimes with a perfect read of the ball nearly every time. Miles got 30+ invisible touches and about 15 clearances.

    it came to me – none of this will change. we will still have duds all across the lines. Vickery must have played decoy forward all week. Houli out, Hunt in – bahahahahahaha!; Brandon stark can run but he isno warg though he did a great thing in the last)

    we will have guys in the mid-tier who will every now and the threaten to make the grade – Hampson was very good tonight and his fend at the start of the last really got us going; Morris was more his father than Judy; Lloydy is a pretty solid 3rd forward.

    we are not going to win a flag, and, if we do, it will be the Richmond way. fun, furious, frenetic. Rohan Connolly has come to the same conclusion – Richmond won’t ever be a stable, solid machine playing to a plan. it has to create a sense of crisis and us against them and chuck the rules out and just wing it.

    and, in hindsight, we’d probably hate it if they were. a well-oiled machine, I mean, another Borethorn.

    we probably may not win a flag in my lifetime, but after seeing 4 and going without for 35 years, do I really care? after all, I am still wearing my hospital good luck Richmond pyjamas as we speak. it’s not just about wins and losses. I was the guy in the Richmond t-shirt at Sydney Park yesterday morning, making polite chitchat, canine peacemaker and plane identifier. I will be the guy in the Richmond scarf on the 423 bus tomorrow.

    just because I didn’t watch didn’t mean I didn’t care.

    ah, all of this silly flag focus. maybe I just have to revel in the big wins, especially the upsets. after ll, hadn’t Amnesty’s finest Andrew Beswick and I snuck out to Waverly in 92 when we were meant to be saving the world, the hapless tIges upsetting the fancied Blues with Doro missing 4 in the last quarter, the ball stuck in the mud on the wing for the last 5 minutes as young cub after cub flung themselves on it to force another ball-up. we hooted all the way home, and then again in September when Carlton missed the 6 by half a game.

    and, to be fair, watching the last 2 minutes, you can see in hindsight what the Swans could have done to ice the game. but they were fully committed in the frenzy to going forward – even Buddy the clock Chastiser was smashing it towards goal 20 seconds later – it’s instinct. So, if the well drilled and coached Swans can make these “schoolboy” errors, than who are we to judge the Tiges for the implosion against Collingwood?

    maybe we should revel in the anarchy of it all, the fact that base instinct overrides calibration at such times? what a spectacle it was.

    so, it’s game on. pick the right team to go west, roll the dice, play with verve. make your own luck.

    fuck the finals, let’s just have fun. footy. fabulous victories. laughable losses.

    Richmond, ever Richmond. I love you. So much, it hurts x

  7. Peter that is just about the best summary I’ve ever seen of what it means to be a Richmond fan. Priceless!!

  8. Peter_B says:

    Loved this game. Kept telling the Avenging Eagle “we’ll watch a movie”. The movie never came but the Tigers did. Jumping Jack has become such a smart and gutsy footballer, even in the games when you were getting flogged.
    Psychics and psychos. Winning with a “shit” game plan. Love that you stick tight, Cheryl, even when logic says the love will be unrequited.
    I’ve even heard that Mr Wrap is packing up the tent and traps to head to Punt Road for the celebrations. Rulebook has to shine Troy Chaplin’s boots every morning for a week.
    Good for football.

  9. It was great Peter. We need more games like this. After six straight losses it was just the tonic. Let’s hope we don’t become Freo’s first scalp next week!

  10. Neil Anderson says:

    Loved that expression ” The bounce of God”. It was intense enough in the finish for us footy fans hoping to pick up another tip, but for the coach in the box …well I hope he has a strong heart. Good to hear Lloyd the next morning talk about having a few quiet beers with Damien. The amber fluid would never have tasted so sweet.

  11. Well played your blokes Cheryl, I think they showed a bit more urgency in the last minutes. In any case I’ve got a soft spot for the Tiges, especially after they stood up for Goodesy last year.

  12. Stainless says:

    Cheryl

    I wavered but I’m happy to say I kept the faith too and reaped the rewards. Games like this provide an interesting insight into supporters during good times and bad, don’t they? I know much has been said about the loyalty of the Richmond fans and I guess our membership numbers are testimony to that. But gee they’ve jumped off quickly. Where have they been these last three weeks? Is it really loyalty if you pay your membership and then don’t bother attending games when the going gets tough?

    Conversely, how is it that Sydney (yes, that’s the team that plays in NSW) has so many “fans” in Melbourne? Where have they all come from? You can’t tell me that these are all the rusted-on Bloods supporters who used to go to the Lake Oval. They certainly weren’t around 10 years ago. Will they still turn up if the Swans hit a rough patch? Frankly, I reckon most of them are recent converts to a consistently successful team and they’ll keep watching only for as long as Sydney remain an easy team to follow. Around me, there were plenty of expressions of unexpected shock amongst adults wearing suspiciously new club merchandise. There were even some sooky kids in tears. Hopefully they will learn that following a footy team isn’t just an endless procession of big name recruits, regulation victories and top 4 finishes!

    As to the game itself, yes, we’re all thrilled by a post-siren win. But let’s keep the lid on it, please. But for the “bounce of God”, this had all the hallmarks of another game that we coulda, shoulda…but didn’t. Like the Hawthorn game last week, we dominated play for lengthy periods but butchered our chances, Two weeks running we’ve had a 15 minute burst straight after half time when we should have put our opponents away but haven’t. It could so easily have been loss number 7.

    Much improved games from Griffiths (who I would have dropped after last week) and Morris (love the work ethic but …), but our ordinary players are still ordinary. Suffice to say Cotchin and Lambert won’t find it hard to get back into this team. Above all, I hope that the win reverses the disturbing lack of confidence among the playing group. Perversely this is most noticeable when we are in control of the game and ahead on the scoreboard. Stage fright takes over. In this context the ice-cool Sam Lloyd is clearly at the wrong club.

    And a question for Richmond trivia buffs. Leaving aside Jordan McMahon v Melbourne in 2009, where the circumstances were suspicious to say the least, is this the first post-siren victory by a Richmond side since Paul Sarah slotted the winner into the teeth of a howling gale at Moorabbin in 1981? I can’t think of another one more recently.

  13. Interesting comment Stainless on Swans supporters.
    Of course not all of them are Lake Oval originals, how many Richmond supporters are Punt Rd originals? There has always been a strong Swans Melbourne supporter base who have never faltered and we welcome new converts as passionately.

    My brood has expanded through natural selection and many others joined no doubt due to success and following a strong club. It helps a great deal to attract and maintain supporters, strangely. I suppose a bit like Richmond in the 70s until they imploded in the 80s and beyond.

  14. Stainless says:

    Davep – The Swans contingent was noticeably bigger on Saturday night than I’ve seen previously, but my comment is really about my disdain for fair weather supporters generally. Swans, Hawks, Tigers – no club’s immune from the band wagon trend and you’ll notice I’m potting my own for not turning up in larger numbers. I know a few old South supporters who’ve kept the faith and not unreasonably I have far greater admiration for them hanging on through the bad times than for the recent converts who’ve joined in the good times. Unexpected losses like Saturday’s will be a good test of their allegiance.

  15. Thanks for the great piece, Cheryl. It’s obviously brought lots of us Tiges out of the misery of perpetual disappointment. In my house we had made a conscious decision to treat footy games as a ‘night out’ to sit and drink beer with friends, if good for nothing else.
    My husband’s been carrying on about missing the Houndmouth gig at the Northcote Social Club the night we beat Carlton in Rd 1. The usual ‘waste of a season’, ‘I’m not following football’, ‘I’m only watching golf and baseball’, ‘Let’s book a holiday in September’ comments have been flying for the last 6 weeks.
    I had a feeling this week, like some other readers/writers. I am still watching the replay of the last quarter on high rotation to convince myself that we actually won … I mean, when do we EVER win those games????
    I know people are saying Lance beat Rance, but only for the first half! And if Lance is a $10 million dollar man then they’re not getting their money’s worth. Ha.
    I love you Rance, and Lloyd and Jack and Lids and Rioli and I’d never miss saying I love Richo.

  16. I agree re Rance. He kept Buddy goalless in the last quarter which was crucial, and I think at least two of his five goals were from free kicks. He did play well though.

  17. great game because of the fantastic performances on both sides: Jack, Rance, Deledio, Griffo, Grimes and Miles; Hannebery,Buddy and Heeney for the Bloods.

    real hard night to Brownlow… Rance 3 Hannebery 2 Franklin 1?

  18. Cheryl

    She’s a cruel and frustrating mistress is our Richmond.

    I’d decided “that’s it, we are over, you have hurt me once too often!”

    Sat night I reflected that even though i could have gone, it hadn’t crossed my mind to organise myself to get there and I convinced the lovely lady in my life that we’d eat dinner in front of it but soon turn to something more renovation or lifestyle orientated, anything but another loss.

    So I had maybe not jumped off but I definitely wasn’t snug in my seat on the bandwagon.

    Just when I think I’m out, they drag me back in. Just when I said that I couldn’t take it anymore, they tease me with a one pointer.

    Maddening! And typical

    Go Tigers, still in love (for now)

    sean

  19. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Cheryl as always love the passion and you as a tiger supporter fair enough to be hugely excited by a 1 point win after the siren but as a non tiger I feel you need a dreadful year so there is some realistic rating of the list.PB I will grant you,Chaplin was better than usual but there were still some vintage mistakes and shocking disposal,the tigers are in some was the most entertaining side in the comp,thanks,Cheryl

  20. Great description Sean. We just keep coming back for more, being disappointed and just when we’re about to give up all hope something like this happens :-)

  21. Peter Fuller says:

    Cheryl, Sean and other Tiges,
    I think you could relate to my fellow Sunderland fans in the EPL. We have drawn inspiration from John Cleese’s memorable observation:
    It’s not the despair, Laura, the despair I can handle, it’s the hope I can’t stand.

  22. So true Peter. Problem is, Saturday was the first time I’d gone to a game this year with any hope…

  23. Yes Peter F one of ,my great days was as an away fan in the home end at Roker Park, Everton earning a comedy-ridden 2-2, all smiles, all drinking. great team, great people.

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