The omens look good for Richmond.

Cyril Rioli is missing from the Hawthorn line-up after his best afield performance against Melbourne for an indiscretion that cost him a week on the sidelines. Buddy Franklin was restricted to some kick-to-kick in runners at training on Thursday night with rumours rife of an ankle injury. Luke Hodge is clearly short of a gallop after missing a fair chunk of the pre-season. Sam Mitchell, who would have been expected to thrive in the rain-sodden confines of the MCG, is missing due to a family bereavement  It was Mitchell who had brought a charging Shane Tuck down to deny the Tigers victory in their previous clash in 2010, when the Hawks fell over the line by three points.

Granted, the Tigers have a backline bereft of the suspended Luke McGuane and the injured pair of Kelvin Moore and Will Thursfield. Second-gamer Dylan Grimes and twentieth gamer David Astbury are assigned to the challenging Franklin-Roughead combination.

But Buddy’s on one leg and the constant rain will surely diminish the gap in skill and experience, bringing the Tigers right into the equation. And Jack’s back in the goalmouth after recovering from the blow to the cranium he suffered against the Saints eight days ago. We are playing some good footy. Didn’t we almost beat the previous year’s Grand Finalist?

The playing arena is filled with seagulls. Some of them swirling in the rain under the lights, others scrambling to take flight to avoid players pursuing the ball over the grass. Perhaps the gulls are under the impression that Williamstown are playing here tonight.

It seems all my pre-match hunches are wrong.

The Hawks have three on the board within the first five minutes. After 24 minutes they have five goals to one, with Franklin booting two of them. There’s nothing wrong with him. Hodge carries out his midfield general’s duties in a manner which suggests there’s nothing wring with him, either. Sewell muscles into the packs and scoops the ball out to Shiels, Burgoyne and Young. Rather than closing the gap between the sides, the rain actually exacerbates the difference in ability. The Tigers fumble, dive on the ball and constantly get pinged for lying on it, much to the ire of the Richmond barrackers.

In baseball there is a mercy rule. When a team trails by ten runs and has played at least seven completed innings, there is the option of finishing the game early. It protects teams from undignified losses and prevents the victors from gloating too much. When Franklin kicks his third at the eight-minute mark of the second term the Hawks canter to a 41-point lead. It is the point of no return. The task is too much for young Dylan Grimes and there is no-one to take his place. Everything that happens from this point will be a mere formality.

Why doesn’t the Rules of the Game Committee consider introducing a mercy rule? Say, 41 points adrift and let’s all go home? The fans become disinterested.  It is turning into that most dreaded of contests, the one where a team establishes its dominance very early in the piece and basically maintains the lead for the remainder of the match. Groups of spectators discuss leaving early and watching the rest on television. Some take up the option.

As for me, I cope by closely examining the spectacle of the raindrops and the gliding seagulls illuminated in the lights. It reminds me of those small plastic domes with alpine scenes that you buy in tourist shops. You turn them upside down to make the snow fall. I once had one that featured the Swiss town of Grindelwald.

I am in the dome. Does Grindelwald have a soccer team? I wonder what division of their national league they play in. Do the fans brave snowfalls rather than rain showers?

Franklin spends some time in the middle. He surges through the centre square and delivers lace-out to the leading Hodge, who duly converts.

What colours does Grindelwald wear? Do they have a mascot?  Have any Australians  played for them? What do their fans do in summer if they don’t have cricket or indeed, baseball? Do they reserve the summer months for hiking in the Alps and setting up secret bank accounts for foreign clients? The only Swiss band I have heard of is AC-DC clones, Krokus. Their singer is originally from Malta. Did they ever play in Grindelwald?

Buddy dribbles one along the ground from an acute angle and scores. He finishes with five. Jack can’t take a trick tonight. He misses a couple before popping one through at the beginning of time-on in the last after receiving a lucky free. Siren. The Hawks by 63 points.

I have a friend who once played professional volleyball in Switzerland. But she lived in Basle and not in Grindelwald.

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