A Stats-free, Sabbath-left-overs, Richmond Sort of Night

by Jason Feldman

Since 2003 I have had the fortune of being paid to watch footy. I am a stats man for Champion Data. It’s not a bad gig; we get the best seats in the house, munch down on free party pies at half time and get to share the two man urinal with some of the game’s greats in the media bathroom at the Telstra Dome. The only downside, apart from some nervous moments at the urinal, is that the pace of the game is increasing at such a rate that you don’t have a moment to blink whilst the match flies along at warp speed below you.

For a statistician the game is not a story with a beginning, middle and end, it is a series of thousands of transactions where every moment is analysed in a split second and there is no room for uncertainty or the dreaded mistake. It is a rare treat when I have the chance to plonk myself on the couch and just enjoy a game of footy just like millions of other punters each weekend. And now I have a two-month old daughter these moments are becoming even more scarce.

So it’s ANZAC Day, I’ve been at the ‘G to statisticize (not a real word but I love using it) the Bombers great escape against the Pies, my Geelong supporting better half has organized some crappy DVDs and the bubba is in bed. Finally I sneak around the corner to my brother’s place to polish off the leftovers from last night’s Sabbath dinner and more importantly see Mark Coughlan’s return to footy and if the Tigers can actually bloody win a game for a change.

Hopes aren’t high, the Roos start well, after eight minutes the Tiges are three goals down and are heading for loss number five. The mood in the lounge room is beginning to deteriorate and I don’t help the situation by pointing out every clanger and ineffective kick to my agitated brother. Just as he threatens to throw me out Daniel Jackson snaps Brent Harvey’s elbow like a wish bone, Newman and Deledio kick a couple goals and the Tiges have a sniff.

So things are going OK, the chopped liver has held up well in the fridge overnight and I’m starting to watch the game like a normal person without calling out tackles, bounces, goal zones, free kicks or any other stat like a human computer.

The second quarter is one of the Tigers’ best for the season, not that it has much competition, and we’re looking half-decent. Jack Riewoldt is taking some big grabs, Deledio is starting to make Sam Power look fairly ordinary and the Persian Prince Robin Nahas is flinging his 68kg frame around like a midget WWE wrestler. There is some concern when Richo limps off with what looks like a hammy but the Tiges continue to control the game and are 14 points to the good. Only a shocking turnover from Jackson which leads to an Andrew Swallow goal before half-time spoils a very satisfying 30 minutes.

The second half starts well, the matzah balls and brisket go down beautifully and Matty White guides through a set shot for the first of the term. Richo makes an unexpected return to plant his big strained left buttock in the goal square. Going into time-on Richie Tambling takes a mark at half-forward. Typical of young Richie he’s a little nervous when he has the footy so in desperation he launches a massive torp deep into the forward line. Big Richo can hardly move but he brings the ball to ground, the baby giraffe Angus Graham swoops at ground level dishes off to Andy Collins and bang!! We’re 4 goals up; high fives are flying amongst the Feldman boys and despite playing some fairly underwhelming footy Richmond are looking like winners. I may hold off posting “Sack Terry Wallace” threads on almost every sporting fan forum in the English speaking world.

I’m a fairly typical Richmond supporter, the concept of victory is not only foreign but from another universe. I don’t think I’ve been comfortable going into a final quarter since the 1980 Grand Final. However, North look so stale and slow without “Boomer” I can’t see us getting rolled. Just on ten minutes in any doubts are erased when Deledio scoots away from half-back, has a couple bounces, links up with Joel Bowden who kicks the sealer. The Tiges go on and win by six goals and the miracle of Foxtel IQ allows us to watch Mark Coughlan lead the boys in a magnificently passionate rendition of “Tigerland” about a dozen times.

Tomorrow it back to the Stats at Geelong but for now I’m just another Richmond fan who looks at the ladder and can’t help thinking that we are only one game out of the 8.


  1. Thouroughly enjoyed reading this amusing and witty article. Keep ’em coming.

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