A Vickery of Sorts


Seventeen minutes into the second quarter of the scrappy Friday night sludgefest between West Coast and Richmond, the ball is thrown in on the wing. West Coast ruckman Dean Cox hits his stringbean Richmond counterpart Tyrone Vickery in the sternum, clearly winding him. Vickery replies with an ugly roundhouse that hits Cox so hard in the face that he falls on the spot, head lolling sickeningly, and lands face down.

These are the facts. Now, let’s take a wider view to look at why Vickery did what he did and what it all means.

Interpretation 1: The Down in Flames Theory

No Richmond player has endured a more miserable season than Vickery.
As the Tigers crushed their fans in the first half of 2014 with some of their most insipid losses ever, Vickery was ineffectual, clumsy and just looked dispirited. He became, rightly, or wrongly, the encapsulation of Richmond’s failures. Scapegoats don’t last long at Punt Road. It would come as no surprise if 2014 is Vickery’s last season in the yellow and black.

After the Tigers hit rock bottom against Essendon in Round 10, Vickery’s game became noticeably, as well as perpetually, more bitter. Physicality became his first reaction.
He wrestled North Melbourne’s Michael Firrito before the match was a minute old in Round 12. He charged the Brisbane defence in Round 16, intent on bullying a young side out of the contest.
Bystanders could draw a conclusion: Vickery was aware and enraged that his days at Richmond were numbered. If he was going to walk the plank, he would do so with two middle fingers high in the air.

Vickery’s choice of target, timing and terrain were all terrible: to hit Dean Cox, a player admired and accepted as the most revolutionary ruckman since Simon Madden, just days after his announcement that he would retire at season’s end, in front of 32,270 parochial West Coast fans, has compounded the already serious trouble he faces. Which isn’t to take anything away from the unacceptable nature of his actions. It was quite possibly the ugliest punch seen since Barry Hall decided Brent Staker would be better off without his teeth. Vickery should receive a four week suspension. If he does, he may well have played his last match as a Tiger. A career once so promising now looks in danger, one way or another, of ending.

Interpretation 2: The One-Off Theory

Vickery will not be given a fair trial. Whether he deserves it or not is not the point – the context of his punch has doomed him as much the punch itself (for what it’s worth, Cox’s unprovoked hit, deserving of a week’s suspension, remains uncited).

Following half time, Vickery had no impact. His face was a picture of remorse and apologised publicly two days later.

“I unreservedly apologise to Dean and his family. What I did was completely unacceptable on all levels of football.”

This will change nothing in terms of his suspension, of course. It should, however, allay screeching slights against Vickery as a man.
Apologising for on-field actions is normally an appeasing act; racists are probably the only consistent apologisers. However, an act like Vickery’s – a terrible loss of self-control and discipline in response to relatively mild provocation – seems to never warrant an apology.
Nobody was asking for, or even expecting, one either. Vickery apologised because he felt it was right, not in hope of lightening the sentence.

Perhaps, for once, the cliché ‘out of character’ can hold a flicker of validity. Vickery knows that what he did was wrong. He knows its possible ramifications – disrepute, shame, end of his season – are wider than mere suspension.



About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Callum while it seemed a genuine apology you must wonder as it had already been suggested by Michael Voss in the media and others that he should apologise .
    It is fair to wonder if the apology was also a attempt to pull , Hardwick in to line re suggesting we need , Vickery to be tough and physical , belting , Cox is not tough , backing in to a pack unaware of what is coming ,clearing a path for others that is what the football world wants to see from a big guy not thuggery .
    When , Lake was totally undisciplined , Clarkson was quick to point out his displeasure and disgust which is exactly what , Hardwick should have done again the difference between a top club and a also ran and yet another failure by Hardwick .
    Creo my suggested question of the week is has there been as dumb and idiotic statement by any other coach as provided by , Hardwick ? V poor by Vickery equally by Hardwick , thanks Callum

  2. Skip of Skipton says

    I doubt Vickery will be going anywhere. I watched Richmond’s VFL side get spanked by Port Melbourne on the ABC on Saturday. Lots of big blokes; Hampson, Griffiths, McBean, Elton and others. Useless.

    Obviously the elbow to the solar plexus gave him a rush of blood. Four weeks. Move on.

  3. Poor act and even worse Hardwicj trying to justify it. I hope they throw the book at him

  4. Stainless says

    Congratulations on that rarest achievement – an objective, reasoned analysis on a topic involving Richmond. Other correspondents should note well.

    I’m with Skip on Vickery’s future. I think he’ll never be a star but there’s regular enough contributions amongst the ungainliness to keep him on the list in a Kevin Walsh manner, especially with the dearth of capable alternatives. For the record, at least one of the regulars I attend Richmond games with would love nothing more than to see him axed. He certainly polarises opinion!

  5. I’ve never met T. Vickery and I have no idea really but my guess is he would go well at another club – if it is the right club. And if he has the right coach. Who would get the best from him? D. Parkin. M. Blight. K. Hinkley? N. Buckley?

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Stainless surely you can not defend Hardwick’s stupid statement defending Vickery not the 1st and won’t be the last stupid act performed by a player but dumbest comment I have ever heard .

  7. At the game and watching the replay a few times since, I think Tyrone has a mega case of ‘small dick’ inferiority complex. As Callum suggests in point 1 he is sick of being regarded as a joke, but he lacks the footy ability to be anything but. Cox and NicNait were pushing him around and making him look inadequate at the clearances.
    He saw red when Cox gave him the standard ‘cop this young fella’ love tap as they lined up for the throw in. I think he decided to stiff arm Cox across the chest, but his hand/eye and brain/body coordination is not that good. He was trying to watch the ball and whack Cox at the same time. This is a guy who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.
    Reckless high contact; high impact. 3 weeks. As Skip suggests – move on – just like TV will be doing at season’s end.
    The Tigers need to keep Megan Gale in the stands. Why else do so many people watch them?
    Coach to get the best out of him: McCafferty’s. To her door.

  8. David Zampatti says

    It’s pretty clear Richmond and Vickery are mutually destructive, but, if not the Tigers, where to for Ty?
    Where’s there a club with one ruckman about to retire and another who can only get near the ball in ruck contests? A club that’s built a forward structure around marks and goals from resting ruckmen but hasn’t been able to generate them in the last couple of seasons? A club who’s supporters are happy to forgive, even celebrate, the transgressions, on and off field, of its players?

    Ironic, isn’t it?

  9. The suspension Vickery receives is irrelevant – he’s out injured for 6 weeks anyway with a severe cut to his hand from Cox’s glass jaw.

  10. Dave Brown says

    Richmond must keep Vickery. He has an ability, perhaps unmatched in the AFL, to raise the ire of his own fans. When Richmond are losing twitter positively lights up with Richmond fans venting their spleens and all other available organs at him. Great sport!

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